Survey: Californians support state’s environmental laws, could do more

imgresCalifornians think the state could do more and spend more to clean up the environment, according to a new poll.

According to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday, a majority of Californians support government efforts to improve the environment, despite possible rises in energy costs and ongoing debates about the legality and effectiveness of the state’s environmental policies.

The study, which surveyed around 1,700 California residents about various environmental concerns, found that the majority of Californians supported existing plans to combat global warming, and were willing to expand these laws, even if that means paying more for gasoline and electricity.

“We find strong support today for the state’s greenhouse gas emissions targets set 10 years ago,” PPIC president Mark Baldassare said. “The commitment to help reduce global warming includes a surprising willingness on the part of majorities of Californians to pay higher prices.”

Big dreams for a cleaner California

Sixty-nine percent of Californians approved of plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels, as laid out in AB32, one of the state’s landmark environmental laws.

But government plans to reduce emissions have been met with mixed results. The cap-and-trade program, created by the Air Resources Board in response to AB32, places carbon emission limits on businesses and allows them to purchase credits for exceeding those limits. But at May’s quarterly auction, businesses purchased only 2 percent of the anticipated revenues.

The program faces legal challenges as well. A lawsuit by the California Chamber of Commerce claims the program is actually an illegal tax on businesses, requiring a two-thirds vote to become law.

Critics have complained about how the cap-and-trade revenue is spent – that the money doesn’t often fund projects that meet the required emission reduction goals. Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, said he is concerned about how the revenues are spent, calling the program “a feeding frenzy for a multitude of pet projects,” according to The Sacramento Bee.

And though there has been a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, some say the lower levels may reflect outside factors like business scale-backs during the Great Recession.

“The jury’s really out on whether we’ve seen a lot of reductions caused by cap-and-trade,” James Bushnell, an energy economist at UC Davis, told the Los Angeles Times

Despite varied expert opinions, 54 percent of respondents in the PPIC survey approve of the cap-and-trade program – after the surveyors gave a brief explanation to the 55 percent who had never heard of the program before.

Respondents also support a proposed new law that would ramp up AB32’s plans to control emissions, which would exceed AB32’s reduction goals and extend the program to the year 2030.

And 58 percent of those surveyed believe local and state governments should devote more resources to other environmental issues, as well – electric cars, solar power and drought management.

A big paycheck for California residents

Californians know that reducing greenhouse gas emissions could raise energy costs – and they are ready to foot the bill.

The majority of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for gas (63 percent) and solar- or wind-generated electricity (56 percent). The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that gas prices would rise 11 cents as a result of the cap-and-trade program.

But this widespread support of energy reforms comes alongside equally widespread opposition by those who prioritize economic concerns over the environment.

How it’s playing in 2016

Alternative energy plans come with a cost – and according to Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, the Inland Empire may not be able to afford it. In 2015, the San Bernardino Democrat opposed a petroleum-reduction provision of Senate Bill 350, another key piece of California’s environmental policy, citing concerns that potential rising energy costs could harm lower-income families.

However, some voters said Brown’s opposition amounted to a rejection of the entire clean energy campaign and retribution was swift. Protests, rallies and criticisms from other officials have threatened Brown’s re-election, while the campaign has become a proxy war between Big Oil and Big Environment. 

“Do you ever feel that something is not going quite right?” Brown asked the Los Angeles Times in March. “They are after me, and I still don’t know why. I don’t know who ‘they’ are. But I will find out soon.”

Concerns about the impracticality of California energy reforms are reflected in the PPIC survey, as well. The majority of respondents supported clean energy programs like electric cars and charging carports, with 68 percent in favor of tax credits for purchasing electric cars, and 77 percent supportive of infrastructure for charging the vehicles.

But less than half (47 percent) are actually considering purchasing an electric car themselves, suggesting that good intentions may not match up with environmentally conscious decisions.

8 comments

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  1. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 27 July, 2016, 22:34

    The best things these enviromental weenies can do is to quit opposing fracking,drilling for oil and have their dumb envromental regulations and laws amended or repealed But the ESA bring in big dollars to the eco-freaks from Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and Earth Justice and the rest of the watermellon groups

    Reply this comment
    • Mr. Pickle
      Mr. Pickle 2 August, 2016, 11:48

      It is my understanding that Sierra Clubbers mine the Death Notices in newspapers, then contact the Widow asking for money for their causes.
      Usually a 1X2 inch plaque w/husbands name on it posted on a bark beetle infested tree somewhere with a donation………. sick..
      Geesh!

      Reply this comment
  2. Ron
    Ron 28 July, 2016, 09:02

    Governor Brown may need “real” tax dollars to continue to fund his high speed rail as those “fees” from cap &trade are diminishing. Maybe it’s karma that the cash cow of the cap& trade “fees” may be dying, as CARB avoids the transparency that the program has done little in 10 years to reduce California’s 1% contribution to the World’s Green House gases.

    In 2015, Britain’s energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd set priority to ensure energy bills for hard working families and businesses to be kept as low as possible, announced sweeping CUTS to renewable energy subsidies.

    In Australia, after almost a decade of heated political debate, became the world’s first developed nation to repeal carbon laws that put a price on greenhouse-gas emissions. In 2015, Australian voters turned against climate laws, blaming them for lost jobs, rising energy bills, higher production costs, and living costs. J.P. Morgan, estimated the removal of the carbon tax would boost its valuation on several companies as much as 6%.

    Reply this comment
  3. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 28 July, 2016, 11:26

    Push polling is a meaningless and obvious fraud meant to ‘drive’ policy at the grass roots level. Most californians are oblivious to the costs that state-level environmental hyper-regulation bakes into their cost of living. Go to your regional water quality control board meeting and observe with a critical mind. It really is at the level of gnats on the head of a pin.
    Meanwhile the real everyday environment that all californians live in is utterly trashed. Way too many people on the landscape….

    Reply this comment
  4. Queeg
    Queeg 29 July, 2016, 10:12

    Comrades

    Earth Day indoctrination has consequences…..the sprout eaters are scared Miami perversion dens and Sausilito hooka shops will flood from rising tides.

    Most drug stoned, fungus toe hippies in California have no idea what day it is let alone know Climate Happens-

    Relax…..

    Reply this comment
  5. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 1 August, 2016, 08:32

    Moonbeams favorite sound gose KA-CHING,KA CHING,,KA CHING

    Reply this comment
  6. Mr. Pickle
    Mr. Pickle 2 August, 2016, 11:44

    As stated, RISING COSTS due to this, and more Fee’s & Taxes stacked on top of each other. What about the low income, fixed income and welfare folks? THEY CANNOT AFFORD THE MOST EXPENSIVE UTILITY COSTS IN THE NATION!
    Polls, smolls……… I don’t believe it. Wake up Californians and MAKE change………………. Throw the bums out……….

    Reply this comment
  7. #therealTed Steele
    #therealTed Steele 3 August, 2016, 08:23

    Without the enviro groups and our watchful citizenry California would look like Mexico—– thank God for the Sierra Club, Peter Douglas’s legacy and the Surfrider Foundation!

    Reply this comment

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