DATE: July 29, 2002
PUBLIC OVERWHELMINGLY REJECTS BUSH 'CLEAR SKIES' PLAN; FAVORS ENFORCEMENT OVER 'CAP AND TRADE' APPROACH
(Washington, D.C. July 29, 2002) - The voting public overwhelmingly rejects the new, industry-friendly approach to air pollution control being touted by the Bush Administration, according to the results of a new national public opinion survey.
Instead, voters overwhelmingly want enforcement of clean air laws to "get stronger," the nonprofit Clean Air Trust noted today.
The Bush plan was very quietly introduced last Friday by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) right before the House of Representatives broke for a summer vacation.
"If it were up to the voting public, the Bush plan would be dead on arrival," said , executive director of the Clean Air Trust.
The survey of registered and likely voters, conducted for the Clean Air Trust, found that voters by nearly a three-to-one margin reject the notion that electric power companies should be able to buy "pollution credits" from another company rather than clean up their own emissions. 1
This so-called "cap and trade" approach is the heart of the "Clear Skies" plan proposed by the Bush Administration. The Bush plan, favored by industry, would eliminate key current Clean Air Act restrictions that govern all power companies, and instead permit power companies voluntarily to buy and sell pollution credits purportedly to achieve an overall national pollution ceiling.
"This national survey shows that the voting public decisively rejects the industry-friendly Bush plan," noted O'Donnell. He noted the public opposed the Bush approach by 68-22 percent margin -- even when it was described in terms similar to those used by Bush political appointees, asserting that "cap and trade" would "lead to faster reductions in air pollution at less cost by relying on the efficiency of the market." 2
O'Donnell noted that the survey questions were worded carefully in order not to "load" the results. "For example, we did not refer to the Bush plan as an 'Enron-style' approach, even though it is conceptually identical to what Enron lobbied for," said O'Donnell. "Similarly, we did not point out that the Bush Administration has adopted an Arthur Andersen-style method of accounting for the benefits of the current Clean Air Act. In effect, they have cooked the books to make their plan look better.
"The truth is, once the voting public understands what the Bush plan is all about, they flatly reject it," added O'Donnell, "even if we don't point out that it will encourage irresponsible corporate behavior."
O'Donnell noted that 53% of Republicans, 69% of Independents, and 70% of Democrats oppose this proposal. It is opposed by a majority of voters in every region of the country, and is opposed by every demographic group.
While scorning the notion of "cap and trade," voters overwhelmingly supported tougher enforcement of clean air laws, favoring it by an overwhelming 70-2 margin. 3
Voters also said they would be less likely (by a 45-10% margin) to vote for a candidate who supports "cap and trade." 4
Lake Snell Perry & Associates conducted a national omnibus survey among registered voters including a series of questions on the topic of Cap and Trade policy on behalf of The Clean Air Trust. The survey was conducted nationwide July 14 - 16, 2002 with 1,000 registered likely voters. The margin of error is +/- 3%.
1 The Bush Administration has proposed letting power companies choose to either reduce their pollution or purchase "pollution credits" from another company. In this way, companies that do not install pollution controls could comply with the law by purchasing "pollution credits" from companies that have reduced pollution by more than the law requires. This proposal is called "Cap and Trade."
Do you favor or oppose this "Cap and Trade" proposal?
2 Now I am going to read you two statements about "Cap and Trade." Please listen closely to each one and then tell me which one comes closest to your own viewpoint.
Some people say/ Other people say that "Cap and Trade" is the most efficient way to reduce air pollution. It would lead to faster reductions in air pollution at less cost by relying on the efficiency of the market. Inflexible, bureaucratic government regulation impedes the free market, thus forcing companies out of business, costing jobs, and driving up the price of electricity.
Other people say/Some people say that "Cap and Trade" allows polluters to continue polluting and to buy their way out of anti-pollution laws. It would not protect air quality at the local level. It relies on companies to report how much they are reducing their pollution and it has no way of proving that the reports are accurate. We all have the right to clean air and no one has the right to pollute it, no matter how much they pay.
Which statement comes closest to your own viewpoint?
IF "BOTH" OR "NEITHER," ASK: "IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE, WHICH ONE COMES CLOSEST TO YOUR VIEWPOINT"
|Most efficient way/supporters||22|
|Allows polluters to pollute/opponents||68|
|BOTH EQUALLY (DNR)||1|
3 Thinking about air pollution, do you believe that in the future enforcement of clean air laws should get stronger, stay the same, or should be made weaker?
|Stay about the same||25|
|Should be made weaker||2|
4 Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for a candidate who supports "Cap and Trade" or would it not make a difference?
IF CHOICE IS MADE, ASK: And is that strongly or somewhat (more likely/less likely)?
|NO DIFFERENCE (DNR)||35|