Powerful Voter Support for State Global Warming Policies

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Palo Alto, CA – A new poll tests voter appetite for a suite of state energy policies to reduce global warming pollution due to be released this Thursday, June 26th by the California Air Resources Board. 73 percent of voters surveyed believe California can grow the economy while reducing global warming pollution, while 79 percent support the state’s draft package of policies aimed to transform the state’s energy profile, with 58 percent support even if the policies result in higher prices. Support for the policy package remained strong across party and ethnic lines. 86 percent of voters polled say encouraging the development of technological innovation and renewable energies are very or extremely important, while 83 percent say they are ready to make personal changes to reduce global warming.

“In adopting America’s first cap on global warming pollution, California has taken the lead in addressing the interrelated problems of energy security, environmental quality, and economic growth, “ commented Ray Lane, managing partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. “AB 32 sets our economy on a fast trajectory toward greater prosperity and improved quality of life for all Californians. It is clear from this poll that an overwhelmingly majority of Californians agree.”

The poll was commissioned by Next 10 (www.next10.org), a nonpartisan nonprofit research organization and conducted by Fairbanks, Maslin, Maullin & Associates (FMM&A), a California-based national firm specializing in public policy-oriented opinion research.

While voters are optimistic about the state’s ability to move to a clean energy economy, they are very concerned about our current energy posture. 90 percent of voters surveyed say that in developing policies to address global warming it is very or extremely important to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. With oil at the Energy Information Agency’s projected average 2008 price of $122 a barrel, California will export an estimated $38.4 billion to buy oil from foreign countries this year (based on 2006 oil imports, according to the California Energy Commission). 87 percent of voters polled support requiring energy companies to produce one-third of their electricity from renewable sources. 75 percent say it is extremely or very important to save consumers money by helping them to decrease household energy use. 85 percent of voters say it is very or extremely important to reduce the long-term cost of energy, while 81 percent say it is very or extremely important to reduce air pollution.

“Voters get that our dependence on fossil fuels is expensive and dangerous in the shortand long-term, to consumers pocketbooks, national security and the air we all breathe,” said Carol Whiteside, former Executive Director of the Great Valley Center in Modesto, California and former Director of the Resources Agency under Governor Pete Wilson. “In the Central Valley, there is no more urgent priority than reducing toxic emissions. The package of policies under consideration by the state will also decrease the emissions causing our Valley’s dangerous air pollution, while reducing global warming pollution.”

Support for the proposed state policy package ran strong across party and ethnic lines:

  • 79 percent of all voters polled support the state’s proposed package of policies to reduce global warming emissions
  • 91 percent of Democrats, 85 percent of Independents and 61 percent of Republicans surveyed support the state’s proposed package
  • 76 percent of White, 86 percent of Latino and 86 percent of all voters of color polled support the proposed package

And, support for state policies remained strong even if they lead to increased costs:

  • 58 percent say they support state policies even if they increase the cost of gas, electricity and some consumer goods
  • 71 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of Independents and 37 percent of Republicans polled say they support the policies even with price increases
  • 55 percent of White, 61 percent of Latino and 64 percent of all voters of color polled say they support even with price increases

California voters recognize global warming as a threat to California’s economy and quality of life, believe California must move farther and faster than the federal government, and say they are willing to make changes to reduce global warming:

  • 79 percent say that global warming is a serious threat to the economy and quality of life for California’s future
  • 78 percent say global warming is caused by human activities and we can act now to reduce it
  • 69 percent support the California state government making its own policies in absence of federal action
  • 67 percent believe California should make policies stronger than the federal government
  • 83 percent say reducing global warming will require “action from all of us, and I am ready to make some changes”

Next 10, an independent research organization focused on innovation and the intersection between the economy, the environment, and quality of life issues for all Californians, produces the annual California Green Innovation Index to track critical economic and environmental indicators of the state’s performance in meeting the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goals of the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). The 2008 inaugural edition of the Index found that over the last thirty years California’s pioneering energy policies have reduced GHG emissions per capita while growing one of the largest economies of the world. In addition, statistics show that Californians have one of the cleanest electric systems in the country but pay lower electricity bills per capita, compared with the rest of the country. California’s overall electricity bill is a much lower fraction of the state’s economy, than Texas and other states. As a fraction of a state’s gross domestic product, the Texas electricity bill is almost double the California electricity bill – representing $25 billion in savings for Californians in 2005 alone. The money saved on electricity bills is spent by consumers for other goods and services, which helps grow the state’s economy.

“Californians understand that clean energy combined with energy efficiency measures, which the state has pioneered for decades, mean their total energy bill will go down,” said F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10. “Voters recognize that when California innovates