Overwhelming Majority of Americans Oppose Lieberman-Warner Global Warming Proposal, New Poll Suggests

Clinton, McCain and Obama at Odds With 90%+ of Americans

Washington, DC – Just as the U.S. Senate is poised to vote on the Lieberman-Warner America’s Climate Security Act (S. 2191), a new poll finds an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the higher energy costs that Lieberman-Warner would impose. 

The poll, conducted by the Public Opinion and Policy Center of the National Center for Public Policy Research, found that 65% of Americans reject spending even a penny more for gasoline in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The number rejecting raising gas prices  in an effort to combat global warming has increased by 17 percentage points — or 35% — in just over two months.  The National Center conducted a similar survey in late February.

An additional 13% oppose spending more than 5% more for gasoline to attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Lieberman-Warner plan would increase petroleum prices by 5.9% by 2015, according to Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.  Other studies indicate the plan would push prices even higher.

The survey also found that 71% of Americans reject spending more for electricity, with 16% opposing spending any more than 12% extra for electricity. 

A study commissioned jointly by the American Council for Capital Formation and the National Association of Manufacturers estimated that the Lieberman-Warner proposal would increase electricity prices by between 13% and 14% by 2014.  Other econometric studies indicate that Lieberman-Warner would push electricity costs even higher.

When gasoline and electricity price increases are taken together, 90% of Americans reject Lieberman-Warner plan’s costs — even the low-range of the projected costs.

“As incredible as it sounds that 90% of Americans reject the Lieberman-Warner plan’s costs, the actual number who reject it may be even higher.  Electricity and gasoline price hikes are only two of the costs of this proposal,” said David A. Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research.  “The price for food and consumer goods would also be pushed higher and many Americans would lose their jobs.  You can’t merely accept energy price increases and opt out of all the other costs.”

“As amazing as it is that 90% of the public agrees on anything,” added Ridenour, “is the fact that all three of the major presidential candidates — Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama — favor a proposal the public appears to be almost unanimously against.”

The America’s Climate Security Act (S. 2191), which could be voted on in the U.S. Senate as early as June 2, would place strict caps on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that power plants, fuel refiners and producers, chemical producers and other manufacturers may release into the atmosphere.  The proposal — frequently referred to as a “cap-and-trade” plan — would also establish an emissions trading system that would permit companies that emit fewer greenhouse gases than they are allowed to sell the excess portion to companies that exceed their allowances.  The Act’s sponsors estimate that the bill would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by up to 63% by 2050.

Respondents to The National Center’s survey were provided with a brief description of what America’s Climate Security Act would do and then asked how much more they would be willing to pay for gasoline and electricity to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. 

They were given the choice between “nothing more,” percentage increases correlating to estimates from three different econometric studies of Lieberman-Warner, and a percentage increase just below the most optimistic of these projections.

The poll used studies from Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, and from the American Council for Capital Formation and the National Association of Manufacturers.

The National Center used all three studies because the findings of the studies varied widely.

“There’s been a robust debate over which economic analysis is accurate.  Proponents believe that lower-range cost estimates strengthen their case for approval of the plan, while opponents believe higher-range cost estimates strengthen the case against it.  That debate turns out to be irrelevant,” said Ridenour.  “Americans oppose Warner-Lieberman no matter which study is closer to the mark.  Just 6% would be willing to accept the gasoline and electricity price increase ranges forecast by any of the three studies.”

Opposition to higher gas prices was particularly pronounced among minorities, with 72% of blacks and 72% of Hispanics opposed to paying any more for gasoline to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  This compares with 64% of whites opposing paying more.

Hispanics led the way in opposition to higher electricity prices, with 77% opposed to spending any more for electricity, compared to 71% of whites and 69% of blacks saying they were not willing to spend more.

The poll was conducted by Wilson Research Strategies, which surveyed 802 people who are likely to vote in the 2008 general elections.  It included 37% registered Democrats, 30% Independents and 29% Republicans.  It has a margin of error of +-3.46% at 95% confidence interval.

The National Center is a non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation based in Washington, DC established in 1982.  It is a truly independent foundation, with approximately 99% of its funding comes from some 72,000 active donors.


For more specific information about the poll: The text of the questions asked in the poll can be found here (pdf). The cross-tabs can be found here (pdf).

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.