Voters support action on climate

Public sentiment and recent world events portend political ramifications for liberals and conservatives who believe they can play politics with America’s energy future. Across the ideological spectrum voters are looking to their elected representatives to take action on common-sense energy solutions that maximize the diversity of sources and address our long-term environmental sustainability.

In the beginning of September, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, an organization dedicated to advocating comprehensive solutions to our nation’s energy issues, partnered with TargetPoint Consulting to conduct a national survey on energy and environmental issues. Not surprisingly, voters are ready for action.

First of all, this issue matters.  Even with reminders of the economic challenges facing America, more than 3 out of 4 voters (76 percent), believe that energy policy, specifically the exploration and development of both traditional and renewable energy sources, should be a very or somewhat high priority. And these numbers hold regardless of the party – 76 poercent of Republicans, 75 percent of Independents and 79 percent of Democrats say it is either very or somewhat important.

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When it comes to finding solutions, renewable energy sources have strong appeal.  60 percent of voters believe there should be more emphasis on “diversifying our energy sources to include renewable resources of energy like wind, solar and hydropower.”  Here the Republican plurality position may come as a surprise: 40 percent say there should be more emphasis – and only 20 percent say there should be less. Rank-and-file Republicans are not as monolithic as conventional wisdom might think on these issues.

This diversity within the GOP helps explain the strong majority of poll respondents, 62 percent, who said they favored the federal government "taking action to reduce emissions of gases like carbon dioxide that cause global climate change.” In the survey, we found that Republicans were split almost evenly on the issue, with nearly half (47 percent) saying they favor action by the federal government.  That’s a big number given Republicans’ reluctance to use the federal government to solve problems.  And here federal action doesn’t have to mean more mandates: 72 percent agree that government should focus on energy incentives and research, while adapting existing regulations to reduce burdens on the private sector.

When asked their view on global warming 64 percent of voters said there was solid evidence that the average temperature on Earth has been getting warmer.  Even here there exists a diversity of opinion among Republicans – 44 percent said there was solid evidence, while fewer than half (48 percent) said there wasn’t. A sizeable segment of Republicans believe global climate change is either happening, or will happen at some point.

Given these strong numbers, it is important that our elected leaders look for ways to build consensus on energy and climate policy, and move forward with common-sense solutions. Senator Lisa Murkowsi (R-AK) addressed this point with Fortune Magazine saying, “It doesn't make sense to argue about how much global warming is caused by man -- whether it's 5 percent or 50 percent. The best approach is to have a no-regrets policy.  We owe it to ourselves to keep healthy this marvelous world we've been given."

Survey research indicates that all voters, including Republicans, believe leaders on Capitol Hill need to take action on energy solutions that will help our economic, national, and environmental security.  If our Party hopes to win future Presidential and swing-state Senate races then we need to start talking about the importance of clean water and air, and a sustainable plan that secures our domestic energy sources for the future, and stabilizes our economy.

It is not only good policy, but it also appeals to the American people and a new generation of voters – that makes it good politics as well.

Lundry is vice president & Chief Data Scientist at TargetPoint Consulting.  Dozier serves as executive director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.

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