Majorities in Almost Every State Favor new Limits on Coal

August 6, 2015


Obama’s Clean Power Plan turns up the heat on climate deniers who are being left behind by a changing demographic.

Yale Project on Climate Communication:

The final rules of the EPA Clean Power Plan are now unveiled. The plan requires states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, one of the nation’s largest sources of carbon pollution.

In recent months, some Republicans in Congress and governors from coal-producing states have attacked the new plan. These attacks might suggest there is widespread public opposition to regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant. However, our research finds the opposite.

In our latest national survey (March, 2015), we found that a large majority of Americans support setting strict emission limits on coal-fired power plants – by more than a two-to-one margin: 70% support; 29% oppose.

Likewise, our models of public opinion in all 50 states (2014) find that a majority of Americans in almost every state support setting strict emission limits on coal-fired power plants.


WASHINGTON — An overwhelming majority of the American public, including half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future.

In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans said they were more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They were less likely to vote for candidates who questioned or denied the science that determined that humans caused global warming.

Among Republicans, 48 percent say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports fighting climate change, a result that Jon A. Krosnick, a professor of political science at Stanford University and an author of the survey, called “the most powerful finding” in the poll. Many Republican candidates question the science of climate change or do not publicly address the issue.


11 Responses to “Majorities in Almost Every State Favor new Limits on Coal”

  1. Gingerbaker Says:

    So, what is a utility located in a state with suboptimal wind and solar going to do with these new rules?

    They could pay for extensive scrubbing of coal plants. Result – more CO2 in the air and higher electricity rates.

    They could invest in new natural gas plants. Result – higher electricity rates, and more CO2 in the air.

    They could invest in renewables. Result – no more CO2 in the air, but an expensive proposition to overbuild, leading to higher rates in the short to mid run.


    We could invest in a new national system, where renewable electricity could be produced only at optimal sites, and then transported with high-efficiency DC lines to where it is needed. Result – no more CO2, and the infrastructure costs shouldered by all equally.

    If we have to fight for something politically, does it not make more sense to get a real solution committed to, rather than fight a hundred piecemeal battles?

    • greenman3610 Says:

      Agreed on a comprehensive solution needed.
      Then let’s all work for that. Clearly a national solution is the best idea. so we’ll need a science-positive majority in both houses.
      So let’s work for that, too.
      Meantime, let’s do what we can do, with what we have, where we are.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        1) Look, you can argue and fight and scratch just to get, say, a carbon tax. People have been arguing, and fighting about it for YEARS. And, if you get it, you will be maybe 1/100th of the way toward building the infrastructure that we need to stop burning fossil fuels. Only 99 more battles to go, huzzah!

        Or, we can choose a single better battle. Comprehensive reform that will solve the problem in one fell swoop. One battle or 100 – your choice.

        2) The other point you raise is about Congressional approval. My reply would be – do we really need it? What can the Executive branch do by itself? What can the Executive branch do if they declare the issue a matter of National Security (as the military has already avowed that it is)?

        3) You can’t get a new national renewable energy system unless you start talking about it seriously. So… start talking about it already. At minimum, it will make a carbon tax a thousand times more attractive to Republicans.

        And, btw – we owe the Republicans a debt of gratitude. They have been demonstrating to us, time and time again, how to successfully change public opinion and national politics, and they have been doing it for decades now. We just haven’t paid enough attention, evidently. (Your reply to me above is a perfect example):

        => If you don’t like where public and political opinion is right now, you move it. You don’t just say “Shucks, we must settle for table scraps”. You move the Overton window. You start by repeatedly and consistently demanding the outrageous. And, over time, the outrageous becomes the norm. And then you can compromise a bit, and settle for the Nearly Outrageous. And you have won.

        • Given the Republican reaction and the dismal possibility that a Republican may be the president in 2017, this action is moving the Overton Window.

          “States develop and implement tailored plans to ensure that the power plants in their state meet these standards– either individually, together, or in combination with other measures like improvements in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The final rule provides more flexibility in how state plans can be designed and implemented, including: streamlined opportunities for states to include proven strategies like trading and demand-side energy efficiency in their plans, and allows states to develop “trading ready” plans to participate in “opt in” to an emission credit trading market with other states taking parallel approaches without the need for interstate agreements.”

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    It’s interesting to see that many of the states on the list of the 15 worst offenders for generating electricity from coal are also among the 16 states whose attorney generals have signed the letter to the EPS asking that the new rules be rescinded and who are preparing to sue the government—they are identified with (**) on the list, and there will likely be more.

    **WV —94.6 of electricity generated from burning coal
    **KY—89.0 etc.

    Considering that the voters in West Virginia, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Alaska are the only ones in the country that don’t favor limiting the burning of coal, there is a rather large disconnect between the voters and those who are elected and/or paid to represent them. It would appear that dirty money, politics, and “red statism” trump what the voters in those states want.

    The Repugnants are painting themselves into a nice corner here. Can’t wait to see them squirm as they try to explain themselves.

  3. Sir Charles Says:

    Many so-called representatives are fighting tooth and nail against Obama’s new energy plan => The Ridiculous Responses Climate Deniers Had To Obama’s Climate Plan

  4. indy222 Says:

    Does it matter that a majority of the rank and file voters in every state favor limiting coal-fired power plants? Given the Princeton study (Gilens and Page 2014) on the zero correlation between what the average voter wants and what get enacted, and given the perfect correlation between what DOESN’T get enacted and what is NOT wanted by the economic elites, I’m guessing this isn’t going to be so easy.

  5. redskylite Says:

    NOAA’s July 2015 Monthly Average Mauna Loa CO2 is 401.30 ppm, that is 2.30 up on last year and for all the good news on reafforestation, renewables, national commitments, EV’s etc, mankind has not even made a tiny dent of the Carbon Budget. We can see it is hard to get national agreement to act, never mind global agreement.

    As governments swing left-right-center pledges and commitments change, as we can see in Poland…

    Time for the U.N to find it’s balls ? at least the IPCC should announce a new chairperson.

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