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Environmental advocates can strengthen their argument on permitting reform by framing it as an issue of communities vs. corporate interests. Voters overwhelmingly believe that input from impacted communities should be prioritized over input from industry association groups as Congress considers changes to the permitting process for energy projects. Voters support the Environmental Justice for All Act by a greater than three-to-one margin (69% support / 20% oppose) after reading a brief description of it. By a 65%-22% margin, voters prefer that lawmakers prioritize feedback from impacted communities over industry association groups like the American Petroleum Institute when considering changes to the permitting process. By a 56%-35% margin, voters say that President Biden should prioritize permitting for clean energy projects over fossil fuel projects. Just 16% of voters believe that permitting reform should be attached to the annual government spending bill, compared to 59% who say it should be considered as a standalone bill and 10% who say it shouldn’t be considered at all.
If humanity is to survive the climate crisis, we must manage a just and orderly transition away from fossil fuels. Acknowledge the full scope of the problem. Recognize the limited scope of economic policy solutions. Accept that substantially reducing greenhouse-gas emissions presents an existential challenge for the industry. We face the challenge of managing “compassionate destruction,” in which we guide all the complex and expansive elements of the fossil-fuel sector through a just and orderly transition to a carbon-free economy. Bring about the end of the entire sector through corporate collaboration. Protect workers and avoid labor flight during transition. Overcome political and social resistance to change. Account for the full scope of the financial impact of the transition. Control the fate of products both used and unused. Protect indirect workers in related industries. Maintain justice and equity for all communities. Decommission, remediate, and repurpose dedicated infrastructure. Leverage the power of government. Overhaul business education as if people and the planet really matter.
New Mexico voters widely support proposals to shift the state toward clean energy, reduce methane pollution, and protect safe drinking water. 89% of New Mexico voters support a proposal to provide funding to help rural and tribal communities repair systems that ensure safe drinking water. 70% of New Mexico voters support the state’s new requirements for the oil and gas industry to use technologies that limit methane emissions and other pollution. 58% of New Mexico voters support proposed state legislation that would make New Mexico a national leader in clean energy production and require that the state cut climate pollution by half by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.
Poll: Latino Voters Support Holding Oil and Gas Companies Accountable for High Prices and Taking Action on Climate Change
Latino voters are widely supportive of the clean energy transition and see it as an economic positive. Amid the energy crisis, most Latino voters blame oil and gas companies for high gas prices and want to see these companies held accountable. The poll finds that climate change is a major worry for Latino voters: nearly half of Latino voters nationwide (47%) say they are “very concerned” about climate change, including just over half of Latino voters in Florida (51%) and Nevada (51%). Climate Power and Data for Progress also find that, amid the current energy crisis, Latino voters are more likely to blame oil and gas companies for higher energy prices than any other actor. The majority (55%) say that oil and gas companies deserve “a great deal” of blame for higher prices, while 40% blame Vladimir Putin a “great deal” and 36% blame President Biden “a great deal.” And consistent with the blame they put on fossil fuel companies for higher energy prices, there is widespread support among Latino voters for a tax on the excess profits of oil and gas companies (73% support / 21% oppose, with 47% “strongly” supporting the idea).
Historic Environmental Justice Victory: City of Los Angeles is creating a pathway to phase out existing oil and gas wells
Residents, community organizations, and health care practitioners organized for over a decade to protect the health of residents on the front lines of urban oil extraction in L.A. In January 2022, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to draft an ordinance to prohibit all new oil and gas drilling and to phase out existing drilling operations throughout the City of Los Angeles. This resource is based on an interview with Wendy Miranda (she/they), a community leader with Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) and resident, about the historic victory. The organizing strategy to get this victory involved various lobbying efforts, rallies, press conferences, petition collections, a wide range of community/organization endorsements, phone banking, and social media outreach. Overall, frontline residents providing public comments and sharing their personal experiences were some of the strongest and most powerful tactics. STAND L.A. will continue to be part of the process to help draft an ordinance and direct the City of Los Angeles on how to lead a genuine community participation process. Miranda shares that this victory is proof that frontline communities can lead the change toward a just, equitable transition to a clean energy future.
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%).
73% of initially planned oil, gas, and coal export projects in the region have been cancelled since 2012. Fossil fuel executives from dozens of companies once seemed to be salivating over the idea of exporting massive quantities of gas, oil, and coal from the Cascadia coast—but local communities, Tribes, environmentalists, and local governments rejected calls to turn Cascadia into a fossil fuel export terminal. They protested projects’ abrogation of Indigenous sovereignty, the risk of oil spills and damage to sensitive ecosystems, the pollution spewing from coal trains, the climate harms of extracting, transporting, and burning hydrocarbons, and the safety hazards of transporting flammable fuels through populated areas—and for the most part, they’ve won. Since 2012, fossil fuel interests have schemed more than 50 large projects to export coal, oil, gas, or their derivatives from Cascadia’s coast in British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington, and today, 40 of those—a whopping 73%—have been canceled by project backers who faced local opposition, see-sawing energy prices, and regulatory hurdles.
Few have heard about the Biden administration’s decision to allow higher-ethanol gasoline blends, but voters learn toward supporting the decision as a way to reduce gas prices. The latest national tracking poll from POLITICO and Morning Consult finds that just 15% of voters have heard “a lot” about the U.S. government allowing summertime sales of higher-ethanol gasoline blends in order to reduce gas prices. When informed about the decision with the following explainer, however, voters support the move by a 42%-28% margin (with 26% unable to give an opinion): “As you may know, President Biden announced that the government would allow summertime sales of higher-ethanol gasoline blends in order to reduce gas prices. While this could lower gas prices, some say that higher-ethanol gasoline blends can contribute to smog in warmer weather. Do you support or oppose allowing summertime sales of higher-ethanol gasoline blends?”
Voters overwhelmingly agree that it is “more important than ever for the United States to become less dependent on fossil fuels” after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. High support for increasing fossil fuel production in the short term shows that voters are feeling cross-pressured on the issue amid the current energy crisis. 75% agree with the statement that “the primary goal of U.S. energy policy should be achieving 100% clean energy.” 71% agree with the statement that “it is more important than ever for the United States to become less dependent on fossil fuels such as oil and gas because of the spike in gasoline and natural gas prices that have been caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine.” Majorities agree that increasing production of renewables would be better than increasing production of fossil fuels for energy independence (59%-35%), national security (55%-35%), and job creation (53%-36%). At the same time, however, voters are clearly feeling squeezed by high gas prices (54% are “very worried” about the price of gasoline) and the public is accordingly willing to accept several proposed remedies aimed at alleviating the energy crisis - including increasing the domestic production of fossil fuels. When they are proposed as policies to respond to the spike in gasoline and natural gas prices, majorities support both increasing the production of renewable energy in the United States (72% support / 18% oppose) and increasing the production of oil and gas in the United States (70% support / 18% oppose).
This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including new polling about increasing domestic energy production from different sources amid the crisis in Ukraine and a new poll on water-related environmental issues.