Texas industry and government officials seeking to fuel opposition to the energy/climate policies being pursued by the Obama administration and the Democratic leadership in Congress may find little consolation in a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Friday.

BallotIn the national survey, conducted Aug. 13-17, respondents said they generally approved of President Barack Obama’s energy policy by 55-30 percent – a wider margin than their overall 57-40 percent approval of his performance in the White House.

Texas-based and other opponents of proposals by Obama and congressional Democrats have argued that such measures – especially the cap-and-trade energy/climate bill passed by the House – will boost energy costs.

The Post-ABC poll found, however, that most people don’t think that what pollsters called “the proposed changes to U.S. energy policy” that are under consideration in Washington will increase their own costs.

A total of 52 percent said they didn’t think it would happen (36 percent saying the proposals would make no difference in their costs and 16 percent saying they would decrease their costs). Forty-one percent said they expected their own energy costs to increase.

The poll found approval of the general cap-and-trade concept, much criticized by Texas political leaders like Gov. Rick Perry, by a margin of 52-43 percent. That was about the same level of support as in June, but less support than in July, when Post-ABC respondents backed the concept by 59-34 percent.

(As reported earlier by Texas Climate News, Texans surveyed in June in the Texas Lyceum Poll supported the general cap-and-trade idea by a margin of 47-42 percent.)

Without specifying a cap-and-trade system as part of the approach being described, Post-ABC pollsters asked whether “proposed changes to U.S. energy policy would or would not address the global warming issue.” By 52-34 percent, respondents thought the changes would do so. Critics of cap-and-trade, including some in the traditional-energy sector, have argued that such a system will not help reduce global warming.

As in earlier Post-ABC polling this year, support was stronger for a cap-and-trade program that “significantly lowered greenhouse gases” if it raised a respondent’s monthly electric bill by only $10, as opposed to $25. Those were the only two cost scenarios described.

With a $10-higher bill, respondents voiced support for such a program by 58-40 percent in the latest Post-ABC poll. With a $25-higher bill, however, that margin was reversed, with only 39 percent in favor of a cap-and-trade system and 59 percent opposed.

Earlier this month, the federal Energy Information Administration issued an assessment of the projected costs of the House-passed cap-and-trade bill, concluding that the “overall impact on the average household, including the benefit of many of the energy efficiency provisions in the legislation, would be 23 cents per day ($83 per year).” Critics, such as the American Petroleum Institute, have commissioned economic studies yielding higher projected costs.

When it came to naming other actions that the federal government should pursue “to address the country’s energy needs,” Post-ABC poll respondents generally exhibited what has been called an “all-of-the-above” approach, though with much greater support for alternative-energy and energy-conservation proposals than for others, such as new nuclear plants and power plants burning fossil fuels.

These margins of support were discovered in the poll for:

  • Building more nuclear power plants – 52-46 percent
  • Developing more solar and wind power – 91-8
  • Increasing oil and gas drilling – 64-33
  • Increasing coal mining – 52-45
  • Developing electric car technology – 82-17
  • Requiring more energy conservation by businesses and industries – 78-20
  • Requiring more energy conservation by consumers like yourself – 73-25
  • Requiring car manufacturers to improve the fuel-efficiency of vehicles sold in this country – 85-14
  • Building more power plants that burn oil, coal or natural gas – 51-41
  • Using cash rebates to encourage people to buy more fuel efficient cars – 69-30

– Bill Dawson

Photo credit: DNY59 – iStockphoto.com