As House Democratic leaders try to cobble together a coalition on climate change legislation, a poll released this week suggests that most voters support their general efforts.
The poll, conducted by the Mellman Group, a Democratic firm, and released by the Pew Environmental Group, finds that 77 percent of voters favor action "to reduce global warming emissions" and that only 22 percent of voters say they would view members of Congress less favorably "if they support a comprehensive plan to create clean energy jobs and fight global warming."
Asked "how important is it for the United States to take action now to reduce its emission of gases like CO2 that cause global warming," 81 percent of voters said it is important or very important. Only 17 percent said it is not important.
Not surprisingly, the poll found that Democrats view action on global warming much more favorably than do Republicans, but it also found that the majority of Republicans support action of some sort. Ninety-two percent of Democrats say it's important to reduce greenhouse gas emissions now, compared with 64 percent of Republicans.
The poll found that 44 percent of voters want the money raised by an emissions control scheme to be distributed equally between research and development funding for clean energy technology and tax credits or tax cuts for the public; 26 percent of voters want the money to be used only for R&D; and 19 percent of voters want the money to be used only for tax credits or cuts.
Even when voters were told that opponents of climate legislation view it as "an energy tax increase of $1,300 on the average family," support remained high: 73 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans said they would still support "a plan to curb global warming," the poll found.
Meanwhile, a poll commissioned by the Pew Environmental Group but conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican firm, found that 59 percent of voters said they believe that "efforts to tackle global warming will create new jobs." This finding would suggest that Democrats' arguments to tie global warming legislation to job creation may be gaining traction.
Public support will surely be critical to the fate of legislation in the House, where Democratic leaders are trying to move a climate bill out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee by the end of next week. This week, one of the top-ranking House Democrats, Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, announced that progress has been made on firming up the support of moderate Democrats, such as Rep. Rick Boucher of Virginia. On Thursday, Boucher said that he "intends to vote yes" on the bill, thanks to the inclusion of at least $75 billion in provisions that will help promote technology to capture carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants.