Majority of Americans Favor Stronger Environmental Safeguards
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Majority of Americans Favor Stronger Environmental Safeguards

The overwhelming majority of Americans support proposals that would strengthen government restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions and spend more taxpayer money to develop alternative sources of fuel and energy, according to Gallup’s latest environment survey.

Paul Holmes

The overwhelming majority of Americans support proposals that would strengthen government restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions and spend more taxpayer money to develop alternative sources of fuel and energy, according to Gallup’s latest environment survey. Public support for these proposals dipped slightly in 2006 but bounced back this year, and grew to a new high in the case of setting higher restrictions on auto emissions.

But Gallup finds much less support for expanding the use of nuclear energy or opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil exploration.

The percentages favoring each of the eight proposals tested range from a high of 86 percent for spending government money to develop alternative sources of fuel for automobiles, to a low of 41 percent for oil drilling in the Alaskan wilderness.

More than three-quarters (79 percent) of Americans now favor setting higher emission standards for automobiles, a slightly higher percentage than has been the case across four other measurements taken since 2001.An even greater shift is seen in the percentage of Americans in favor of setting higher emissions and pollution standards for business and industry, rising from 77 percent in March 2006 to 84 percent in March 2007.

Last year’s survey was conducted at a time of rising gas prices, which may have dampened Americans’ willingness to support environmental policies presumed to drive fuel costs even higher.

A 4-point increase was seen in the percentage of Americans saying they are in favor of imposing mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases—from 75 percent in 2006 to 79 percent today.

And 82 percent of Americans now say they favor “more strongly enforcing environmental regulations.” This is not appreciably higher than the 79 percent Gallup recorded in 2006, but is the highest percentage seen since Gallup began tracking the measure in 2001.

Democrats widely support most of the proposed government regulations on greenhouse emissions as well as increased government spending to develop alternative energy sources. A majority of Republicans also support these proposals, just not to as great an extent.

 

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