According to this report from Reuters, 65 percent of Americans support “regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and factories” while 65 percent also support the president’s plan to begin taking action now. And, more significantly, this include a majority of self-identified Republicans.
In fact, 65 percent of voters support “the president taking significant steps to address climate change now,” according to a recent poll by the Benenson Strategy Group
But the devil is in the details, as a February Duke University study shows. Though public support for cap-and-trade or a carbon tax are tepid (30 to 35 percent support, with about the same percentage opposing), Americans overwhelmingly support “regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and factories” (65 percent support versus 14 percent oppose). [...]
Tea Party Republicans continue to paint the EPA as a political boogieman — but they have only isolated themselves from the broad mainstream. The EPA had a robust 45 favorable to 28 percent unfavorable rating in our latest national survey for the ALA in January, conducted with Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies.
Voters also supported the EPA “updating standards with stricter limits on air pollution” by a 69 to 26 percent margin. In fact, stricter air pollution standards had at least 60 percent support from Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans, with only conservative Republicans in opposition.
Based on my own observation, the reason the public strongly opposes cap-and-trade policy while strongly supporting the regulation of emissions is because it’s much easier to demagogue and vaguely smear cap-and-trade policy and paint it as an economic bummer. It’s far more difficult to attack the regulation of poison in the air.
The results of polls that measure public opinion on environmental issues are not so dissimilar to the way a majority of Americans may be reluctant to identify themselves as liberal whereas, if you poll them on specific issues, they are more liberal than they are conservative.