Poll Shows US Population Supports Curbing Causes of Climate Change

It seems hardly a month goes by without some member of the US Senate or the House of Representatives making an attempt to curb the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate the causes of climate change. Not only Republican lawmakers, but conservative Democrats like Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu have joined the cause, introducing or supporting amendments that would tie the EPA’s hands at seemingly every opportunity.

The impression you would get is that there must be widespread concern among US voters that limiting the causes of climate change is a bad idea. Yet the results of a new national poll overwhelmingly refute that view. According to a poll conducted by Infogroup/Opinion Research Corporation, large majorities of Americans support the EPA taking action to curb greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and to reduce the causes of climate change.

Of those surveyed, fully 72% said they support the EPA’s recent move to begin regulating greenhouse gases as a pollutant. 71% say preventing the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases would send the wrong message to major polluters. And 83% of respondents say EPA scientists and experts are better qualified than politicians to protect the public from the causes of climate change. In other words EPA authority, and specifically its ability to regulate greenhouse gases, has the overwhelming support of US voters.

Poll respondents agreed the EPA should be allowed to do its job—not just by slim margins, but by an overwhelming majority. This holds true across all major regions of the United State: the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. It’s even true across party lines: 71% of Republicans support the EPA’s work, along with 93% of Democrats. There may be few other causes that can claim such broad bi-partisan support from US voters. The people of the US recognize that everyone benefits from clean air and a stable climate, and support the EPA in taking innovative steps to reduce the causes of climate change.

So why the inconsistency between widespread voter support for the EPA, and nearly non-stop efforts to reduce the EPA’s authority in Congress? The disconnect is almost certainly caused by the huge influence polluter corporations hold in politics, and the fact that the coal and oil industries have a powerful incentive to see the EPA handicapped and reduced to powerlessness.

Maybe this new poll will inspire at least some lawmakers to take a stand for a strong EPA—the kind of regulatory agency which voters clearly want to see. At a time when the two major parties are seen by many as locked in a perpetual tug-of-war over key issues, the cause of ensuring the EPA can do its job might help unite voters from across the political spectrum. Perhaps the new poll will prompt members of Congress to get serious about encouraging low-carbon innovation, and cracking down once and for all on the causes of climate change.

Photo credit: Nick Engelfried

Nick Engelfried is a freelance writer on climate and energy issues, and works with campuses and communities in the Pacific Northwest to reduce the causes of climate change.