Poll Shows Support for Cap and Trade, Until Consequences are Considered

The Associated Press today reported on an AP-GfK poll showing that a majority of Americans believe, in the words of the AP headline "action on climate will heat up economy, jobs." The headline was misleading, however, in that it gave readers the impression that the public is firmly behind the creation of what the Obama administration has dubbed the "green economy."

When asked what effect they thought federal policies designed to curb global warming would have on the economy, 46 percent said it would help, 27 percent said it would hurt, and 24 percent said it would have no effect.

The AP trumpeted these results as a sign that "the public is showing more faith in President Barack Obama's economic arguments for limiting heat-trapping gases than in Republican claims that the actions would kill jobs."

Of course the primary legislative initiative designed to bring about this elusive green economy is an environmental tax, commonly referred to as "cap and trade", passed by the House over the summer and awaiting consideration in the Senate. Respondants favored passage of the bill by 58-37 percent and 50-47 percent margins, depending on the wording of the question.

But when asked whether they would support Cap and Trade given relatively small increases in energy costs, backing for the legislation evaporated. By a 75-20 percent margin, respondants said they would not favor the bill if it raised monthly electricity costs by $25, and by a 59-37 percent margin they said they would not support it if those rates went up by $10 a month.

The Heritage Foundation found in its exhaustive study of the legislation that energy costs would skyrocket after passage.
For a household of four, energy costs go up $436 that year, and they eventually reach $1,241 in 2035 and average $829 annually over that span. Electricity costs go up 90 percent by 2035, gasoline by 58 percent, and natural gas by 55 percent by 2035. The cumulative higher energy costs for a family of four by then will be nearly $20,000.
Residential electricity prices would dip slightly beginning in 2012 to just under $200 per year for a family of four (the average family size in the US is 3.22), then skyrocket to over $500 by 2025.

Readers might accurately take away from the AP's article that Americans think environmentalism is all well and good until they are shown the necessary consequences of the destructive policies designed by its proponents. Barack Obama himself has stated that "electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket" under the proposed cap and trade scheme.

But the AP chose to highlight a results from its poll that really say nothing about public sentiment regarding cap and trade. Who wouldn't want a new, shiny "green economy" after all? But when pollsters started asking about the necessary tradeoffs that would have to take place to institute such a plan, support disappeared. Still, the AP touted public backing for cap and trade, making it seem as if the public stands behind the plan.

AP reporter Dina Cappiello missed the real story of the poll, which was that Americans favor cap and trade and similar environmental policies until they are forced to give up the cheap energy provided by fossil fuels.