Coal state voters unlikely to back climate-friendly candidates

Most voters in eight coal-heavy states would oppose a Senate candidate who supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest carbon pollution rules for power plants, a mining industry-backed survey concluded.

The survey released Thursday found that 55.2 percent of respondents would opposes Senate candidates who like the EPA’s proposal, compared with 31.4 percent who would support such a candidate, said the National Mining Association (NMA), which commissioned the poll.

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Only 37.3 percent of voters said they support the EPA’s proposal to cut power plant carbon emissions by 30 percent, and 47.1 percent oppose it. Opposition increased when pollsters told respondents the rules would cause a “short term hit” to consumers, that states would have to use “cap and trade, tax and regulatory programs” to comply and that it could result in hundreds of thousands of jobs lost.

“The implication for U.S. Senate candidates in coal states is stark: putting yourself in favor of a rule that puts low-cost electricity and jobs at risk will put your race at risk,” Rich Nolan, senior vice president of government affairs at the NMA, said in a statement.

“Voters in these states remain overwhelmingly concerned about jobs and the economy,” Nolan said. “They will bear the consequences from this regulation and so will candidates in close races who support it.”

Magellan polled voters in Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana and North Carolina. The NMA chose those states because they use a high percentage of coal-based electricity, coal production is important or they have important Senate elections coming up, said NMA spokeswoman Nancy Gravall.

A survey released Wednesday by Bloomberg News found that twice as many United States residents would pay more on their electricity bills if it meant reducing carbon emissions.