Survey shows that American voters, despite party preference, prefer a straight carbon tax over cap-and-trade as a policy option to address climate change.
According to the results of a new survey, American voters -- regardless of party preference -- prefer a carbon tax over a cap-and-trade to control carbon emissions.
The survey, conducted by Hart Research and commissioned by Fortune 500 and the U.S. Climate Task Force, found that once voters were educated about the differences between the two policy mechanisms, they preferred the carbon tax by a margin of two to one. 58% of those polled said they would support a carbon tax versus 27% for a cap-and-trade. 15% of those responding were unsure.
Importantly, the study's authors note, "the preference for a carbon tax approach holds up across the electorate." After explaining the difference in policy mechanisms, strong support for a carbon tax was indicated by Democrats, Independents, and Republicans; voters in every income bracket; voters in each region of the country; voters that identified themselves as strong environmentalists; and those who do not.
As the climate policy debate heats up again on the Senate floor in the public sphere, there has been lots of talk about whether a cap-and-trade to control greenhouse gas emissions--one similar to the House's American Clean Energy and Security Act (aka, the Waxman-Markey bill)--will even be taken up by the Senate this year.
Post-healthcare debate political tensions on Capitol Hill are running extremely high. The Democrats have now lost their "veto-proof" supermajority in the Senate. And President Obama has dropped $646 billion in projected revenue from a carbon trading scheme in the 2011 budget. Political pragmatists are starting to wonder if they need to begin exploring other avenues to a cap-and-trade -- if only to get something through the Senate. One of those policy alternatives is a cap-and-dividend and another is a straight carbon tax.
Despite the fact there are some compelling reasons why a carbon tax is superior to a cap-and-trade, no serious debate has been given to such a mechanism by either the Senate or the House. However, as the political makeup of Congress shifts and people become more informed about the policy options on the table, that may be changing.
Conducted on over 1,000 registered voters across the country and offers some of the first insight into the American public opinion on cap and trade as well as other policy options.
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