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This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including new polling on the Inflation Reduction Act, attitudes toward the country’s major domestic energy sources, and a new paper on the behaviors and perceptions that correlate the most strongly with changes in climate attitudes.
Wind and solar remain Americans’ most favored energy sources, while support for nuclear energy continues to trend steadily upward. Americans are far less likely to blame gas for pollution and climate change than other fossil fuels. 77% of Americans say the United States should be spending more money over the next few years on the research and development of wind and solar energy. 76% of Americans recognize that oil contributes to unhealthy air pollution and climate change. 73% of Americans recognize that coal contributes to unhealthy air pollution and climate change.
A Guide for Municipal Utility Leaders: Electric Municipal Utilities & the Transition to a Clean Energy Future
Transitioning to clean energy can create a more flexible, economic, and resilient electricity system. Small and mid-sized cities can enjoy safer, cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable service. Municipal utility leaders face unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to making the most of this transition. This resource is designed to provide a guide for municipal utilities seeking to make responsible, forward-looking planning decisions and investments within a clean energy transition while meeting their bedrock obligations to ensure reliable service in an economic manner. Benefits to consumers can include lower utility bills, healthier homes, and reduced energy burdens, especially for low-income residents. Benefits to communities can include local jobs, cleaner air and water, healthier communities, and climate change mitigation and resilience. Benefits to utilities can include cost savings, lower financial risk, reduced policy risk, energy security, resilience to weather disasters, and protection from fuel supply shortages.
A Guide for Cooperative Leaders: Rural Electric Cooperatives and the Transition to a Clean Energy Future
Rural electric cooperatives are foundational institutions within their communities. Cooperatives serve as energy providers and a cornerstone of economic development and community well-being. Today, the electric utility industry — including rural cooperatives — is undergoing a transformation that is on par with some of the biggest industrial transformations in history, and cooperative directors are on the forefront of that transition. This paper is designed to provide a guide for electric cooperative directors seeking to make responsible, forward-looking planning decisions and investments within a clean energy transition – while delivering more flexible, resilient, and economic service to member-owners. Rural electric cooperatives ground their work in the seven cooperative principles: Open and voluntary membership; Democratic member control; Members’ economic participation; Autonomy and independence; Education, training and information; Cooperation among cooperatives; Concern for community.
Texas voters view the clean energy transition as a net positive for the state economy, and most want to see their state leadership strengthen regulations on utilities and fossil fuel companies. 65% of Texans agree that state leaders such as Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton didn’t do enough to protect consumers with high energy bills following Winter Storm Uri, and two-thirds (67%) believe that the federal government should investigate possible price gouging by power companies during the storm. Additionally, only 35% believe that the Texas state government is doing enough to prepare the state for the impacts of climate change. The clear majority (64%) support more regulations on power companies and oil and gas producers “given the disruptions to the power grid and high energy prices caused by Winter Storm Uri in February 2021.” And by a 56%-34% margin, Texans side more with an argument that “regulations on energy companies need to be stronger in Texas to ensure power stays on and to protect Texas consumers from high prices” than a competing argument that “regulations on energy companies are an overstep of the government, don’t usually deliver the benefits they promise, and are not worth the cost.” Importantly, the poll also finds that more Texans believe that the clean energy transition will improve Texas’s economy (47%) than worsen it (35%).
California voters lean toward keeping nuclear energy in the state’s power mix, while their support for natural gas has declined. The poll encouragingly finds that voters overwhelmingly approve of solar (91% approve, including 73% who say they “definitely” approve of it) and wind (81% approve, including 67% who “definitely” approve of it) being used as electricity sources for the state. A clear majority also approve of natural gas as an electricity source (71% approve), though with considerably less enthusiasm (40% “definitely” approve) than they feel about solar and wind. Californians are relatively more split in their feelings about nuclear power, but over half approve of it being included in the state’s energy mix (54% approve / 36% disapprove). The poll release also includes time-series trend data from 2013 for comparison. This trend data shows that, over the past nine years, Californians’ approval of nuclear (51% to 54%, +3) and solar (94% to 91%, -3) has barely budged, while there’s been a dip in approval of wind power (92% to 84%, -8) and a more sizable drop in approval of natural gas (89% to 71%, -18).
Poll: Mass. residents concerned about climate change, but more worried about health care, education & jobs
Massachusetts residents are concerned about the impacts of climate change, with majorities saying that climate impacts like heat waves, coastal flooding and more powerful storms are already or very likely to hit the state in the next five years. However fewer than half of residents (47%) list climate change as a high priority -- it trails behind worries about health care, jobs and the economy, education, taxes, and fuel costs. The new survey suggests concern over climate change has declined since a similar poll in 2019 in which 54% of residents called climate change a high priority for state government.
Majorities of MA residents support climate and energy policies including:
- Update the states' building codes to require buildings to be better protected against climate change (76%)
- Require new or renvoated buildings to be ready to charge electric vehicles (70%)
- Require new or renovated buildings to be fully electric, using no oil or natural gas (57%)
Additional analysis and data visualizations in this article from WBUR.
This deck from polling firm Global Strategy Group compiles recent public opinion findings on climate and clean energy issues, including the top-testing messaging and language to proactively talk about climate and health, economic impacts, and environmental justice as well as guidance on how to respond to attacks.
(This deck was collected by the Environmental Polling Consortium. If you would like to learn more about the EPC and receive weekly polling insights, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
This post includes a roundup of climate + environment headlines from this week’s public polls, good data points to highlight, and a full roundup including key takeaways from each poll.
- Climate Power + LCV - Investments in clean energy, climate action, and environmental justice bolster support for the reconciliation bill; the most persuasive messages focus on economic aspects including how the bill will lower costs for households (Slide Deck)
- Climate Power + Data for Progress - Voters support a range of climate-related proposals that were left out of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, especially clean electricity incentives, investments in energy efficiency, and investments in solar and wind (Release, Memo, Topline)
- POLITICO + Morning Consult - Voters continue to back the bipartisan infrastructure bill, especially investments in roads, bridges, and water infrastructure; voters are more split on the reconciliation package, but overwhelmingly support expanded home care for the elderly and disabled (Topline, Crosstabs)
- Data for Progress - Voters think that oil and gas companies have too much power, especially after learning about comments made by a senior Exxon lobbyist; “oil and gas companies” are a more compelling villain than “fossil fuel companies” (Release, Topline)
- Yale Program on Climate Change Communication + George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication - Petition signing is the most appealing ask to get voters involved in climate advocacy, and there is clear interest in community preparedness groups (Summary, Full Report)
Survey data from 19 competitive House districts across the US revealed strong support (59%), across party lines, for the American Jobs Plan. Notably, the provisions that would address the climate crisis garnered even stronger support than the overall infrastructure plan did.
Among the specific provisions designed to address the climate crisis:
- 82% of voters support investments to rebuild roads and bridges and modernize public transportation to ensure it is cleaner and able to serve more people.
- 81% of voters support overhauling our country’s drinking water infrastructure.
- 70% of voters support addressing the challenge of climate change by shifting to greater use of clean energy, reducing carbon pollution from vehicles and industry, and making homes and buildings more energy efficient.
- 69% of voters support investments in clean energy such as wind and solar power by extending tax credits to spur innovation and manufacturing.
- 61% of voters support investments in electric vehicles and charging stations to reduce pollution and help more Americans buy clean cars.