Friday, February 14, 2014

National Survey Shows Strong Support for Carbon Pollution Limits

Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Despite the political backlash in Pennsylvania and other coal states, a new national survey says there's strong public support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s move to limit carbon pollution from power plants.

The poll, commissioned by the Sierra Club, finds that 57 percent of those questioned support the idea, and that more than three out of five support investing in clean energy sources and energy efficiency instead of the traditional mix of coal, oil and gas.

"These results serve as a strong reminder that when we make choices about which path we're going to take, the voices of American families are loud and clear,” says Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign.

“They want clean energy, and they want it right away."

The National Mining Association ranks Pennsylvania as the fourth highest among states in terms of coal production, with just under 5.5 percent of total U.S. coal production in 2012.

Alex DeSha, a Sierra Club member, counters that coal is, in his words, no longer cheap.

And he sees the EPA's push for stricter rules on carbon emissions as a chance to broaden the nation's energy mix.

"We've seen the coal industry lose its competitive edge to other resources,” he points out. “Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency is, you know, the direction the nation as a whole is going.

“I look at the carbon rules as an opportunity for us to be innovative."

The poll found 44 percent of those questioned had a favorable opinion of the EPA, compared with just 27 percent who rated the agency unfavorably.

Pollster Andrew Baumann, vice president of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, calls those very solid ratings from a cross-section of Americans.

"So, you know, the EPA – unlike some would have you believe – is not at all the bogeyman,” he says. “It's actually quite popular, and trusted."

Critics of the new poll claim it comes from what they see as an anti-coal polling firm, and say the coal industry has to do a better job of communicating its value to the public.

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