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Most Like New EPA Emissions Controls But Say Congress Needs to OK First

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Voters continue to have a love-hate relationship with environmental regulations. Most approve of the EPA’s new restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions even though they expect energy costs to rise as a result, but they also don’t think the agency should be able move ahead on energy controls like this without Congress’ approval.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Likely U.S. Voters approve of new environmental regulations to place stricter limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just 30% oppose the regulations intended to reduce the emissions 30% by the year 2030 as part of the EPA’s effort to fight global warming. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Fifty-two percent (52%) believe the new regulations will increase energy costs in the United States. Only 12% think they will decrease energy costs instead, while 18% say the regulations will have no cost impact. Another 18% are not sure.

This is slightly higher support for the regulations than voters have expressed in surveys since April 2012 when President Obama first proposed them, but views of their impact on energy costs are essentially unchanged. 

Voters are less enthusiastic, however, when their own pocketbook is involved. Most of the power plants impacted by the new EPA regulations are coal-fueled, and utility industry officials say the new regulations will drive up energy costs. Just 28% of voters are willing to personally pay higher utility costs to reduce America’s use of coal to generate electricity.  

The EPA at the president’s direction is moving ahead on its own with the emissions control regulations, but only 30% think the EPA should be able to implement major regulations like this without congressional approval. Fifty-three percent (53%) disagree and say the approval of Congress should be required. Seventeen percent (17%) are undecided.

Early last month, 30% of voters also said the president should take action alone if necessary to deal with global warming, but twice as many (59%) said the federal government should only do what the president and Congress jointly agree on.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 6-7, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Unchanged from last July are the 33% of voters who believe the Obama administration wants to outlaw the coal industry. Another 33% disagree, however, while 34% are not sure.

Voters continue to have a more favorable opinion of the coal industry than of the EPA. Forty-eight percent (48%) view the coal industry favorably,  compared to 36% who say the same of the EPA.

Voters under 40 are more enthusiastic supporters of the new EPA regulations than their elders are. Older voters believe more strongly that the EPA needs congressional approval before implementing major regulations like these.

Fifty-two percent (52%) of Republicans believe the Obama administration wants to outlaw the coal industry. But just 18% of Democrats and 32% of voters not affiliated with either major party agree.

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of Democrats and 56% of unaffiliated voters favor the new regulations to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of GOP voters are opposed.

Since Republicans in Congress are the chief opponents of the president’s global warming agenda, it’s no surprise that a plurality (48%) of Democrats think the EPA should be able to implement major regulations without congressional approval. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of Republicans and 58% of unaffiliated voters believe the EPA needs to get Congress’ approval first.

Voters who favor the new regulations believe by a 49% to 32% margin that the EPA should be able to move ahead without the okay of Congress. Ninety-three percent (93%) of voters who oppose the regulations say congressional approval should be necessary before they are implemented.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of all voters say they have been following recent news reports about the EPA, with 31% who have been following Very Closely.

Sixty-two percent (62%) continue to view global warming as a serious problem, with 39% who say it is a Very Serious one. But just 45% are willing to pay more in taxes or in utility costs to generate cleaner energy and fight global warming, including 21% who are willing to pay no more than $100 extra a year. 

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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