Polls clash over public support for making emissions reductions

The same poll showed that 56 percent say the U.S. should make meaningful reductions in its emissions regardless of what other nations do, while 17 percent say the U.S. should act only in concert with other nations, and 23 percent said the U.S. does not need to make significant cuts regardless of what other countries do.

The poll also asked about the climate science e-mails hacked from a prominent U.K. research institute that climate skeptics argue have undercut the case behind human-induced global warming.

Advocates of emissions curbs say the e-mails do nothing to alter evidence behind the widely held scientific view that the planet is heating up and that burning fossil fuels is a big reason why.

Among voters who were familiar with the controversy, 53 percent said it did not affect their views on global warming. Twenty-six percent said the e-mails made them less likely to support U.S. action to cut global warming, while 20 percent said the controversy made them more likely to support action.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), meanwhile, released the results of two polls on Tuesday that show deep concern about proposed emissions policies.

One solicited the views of small-business owners and managers about proposed cap-and-trade legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions; the other polled voters generally.

According to the mid-December small-business survey of 750 people conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, 45 percent strongly opposed a cap-and-trade plan, 21 percent were somewhat opposed, 9 percent were strongly in favor and 15 percent were somewhat in favor.

A separate survey of 1,000 voters commissioned by NFIB and conducted by MBE Enterprises found that 52 percent oppose cap-and-trade strongly or somewhat, while 37 percent support it.

Cap-and-trade is at the heart of the House-approved climate bill and is also the mechanism used in a pending Senate climate bill. Cap-and-trade sets a declining nationwide emissions cap, and polluters would either be allocated or buy federal emissions permits that can be traded among businesses and other parties.

Here’s how the NFIB-backed poll asked voters about cap-and-trade (the small-business survey used almost identical language):

A federal cap and trade system would mandate a government-run system to limit the amount of greenhouse gas U.S. businesses can produce. Energy-intensive businesses that exceed the limit would be forced to pay for permits for more emissions. Those that emit below a certain level could sell their credits. The overall purpose of cap and trade would be to lower U.S. emissions to a defined level in the future. (read and rotate support/opposition statements).

Supporters say cap and trade creates a market system that decreases emissions by replacing traditional energy sources such as oil, coal and natural gas with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. They believe this would decrease U.S. emissions, improve the global environment, create jobs and grow the economy.

Critics say cap and trade is a nearly a $1 trillion energy tax that will significantly increase consumer and commercial energy costs, drive up the price of goods and services, cause major job losses and force businesses to close or move overseas to non-cap and trade countries like China and India at a time we can least afford it.

After hearing this, do you favor or oppose a cap and trade system in the United States?