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Clean energy policy is political priority for Americans [survey]

Posting in Energy

When it comes to climate change beliefs -- and opinions about government involvement -- Democrats and Republicans might be closer than you think on some issues.

Yet another survey from yet another credible source suggests that Americans care more about climate change than we would be lead to think after all the political rhetoric about it from both sides of the Congressional aisle. In fact, the more a climate change issue is tied to a specific economic policy, the closer to agreement all of the major political parties seem to move.

This time, the data I am considering comes from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, in the form of a report called "Public Support for Climate and Energy Policies in November 2011." The key highlight of the report is this:

  • 70 percent of Americans say that global warming should be a very high, high or medium priority for Congress. As you might guess, the report among registered Republicans was much lower (44 percent) and higher among registered Democrats (85 percent). Independents were almost right on the average.

That's the highest level finding, and it doesn't seem all that surprising. Although, perhaps, somewhat higher than I might have expected. I actually found these threes statistics even more intriguing, because they directly relate to U.S. economic policy.

  • 90 percent of Americans say that developing clean energy should be a very higher, high or medium priority. This time, there was far more buy-in among registered Republicans, who were at 82 percent. The result was 91 percent among Independents and 97 percent among registered Democrats.
  • 65 percent of Americans were in favor of a "revenue neutral" carbon tax, when it positioned in such a way as to decrease pollution and create jobs. The results along party lines were Republicans (51 percent), Independents (69 percent) and Democrats (77 percent)
  • 69 percent were opposed to federal subsidies for fossil fuels. The party line responses were Republicans (67 percent), Independents (80 percent) and Democrats (68 percent).

The survey measured the responses of 1,000 adults surveyed during late October and early November 2011.

That last statistic was particularly illuminating, since Democrats and Republicans were actually in agreement on something.

Of course, if you tied any one of these questions to a potential negative impact on the local economy of the respondents, the views would be much different. Everyone wants U.S. spending to be cut, just not for the issues or causes they support.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure