Coloradans oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan when it comes to increases in electricity bills, effects on minority communities, and negligible effects on global temperatures or carbon emissions, a poll conducted by Magellan Strategies found. The poll was commissioned by the free market think tank, the Independence Institute.*
Clear majorities of Colorado registered voters also rated the state’s environmental quality as very good to excellent and believe that federal regulations hurt more than help the environment, with those surveyed giving the state the nod over Washington D.C. when it comes to trust over environmental regulations.
The EPA released the finalized Clean Power Plan rule with differing state target levels on August 3. Colorado must reduce its carbon output by more than 40 percent by 2030, according to the agency.
The poll was conducted August 9-10th and found those surveyed more likely to oppose the EPA’s controversial Clean Power Plan if the rule resulted in electricity bill hikes, 59 to 33 percent.
Fifty-five percent said they would oppose the plan if it meant spiking poverty rates in black and Hispanic communities by 23 and 26 percent, as a recent study by the National Black Chamber of Commerce concluded.
Respondents also opposed the plan when it came to the core environmental impacts projected by the agency—a 0.02 degrees Celsius reduction in global temperatures and no notable impact on carbon emissions. Fifty-one percent said the promised temperature reduction would make them more likely to oppose the finalized rule, while 58 percent said that the Clean Power Plan’s non-existent impact on carbon emissions would do the same.
Finally, 63 percent said that a combination of raised electricity rates and a lack of discernible impact on carbon—one of the key reasons for the plan in the first place—would make them oppose the finalized rule.
While Colorado’s Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman, has not weighed in on whether the state could join a multi-state lawsuit against the EPA over the Clean Power Plan (she has said it is on the table), a 53 to 37 percent majority favored the state joining at least 16 other states in the suit.
Nearly 6 in 10 said the state should wait to comply—not move forward as Governor John Hickenlooper has directed—on drawing up a state implementation plan for the Clean Power Plan.
Nearly half said that they would be more likely to support a plan if the state of Colorado determined the cost of compliance before that plan became law.
When it comes to environmental regulation and quality, Coloradans clearly preferred the regulators in Denver to those in Washington, D.C.
The State of Colorado does a better job regulating for a clean environment 37 to 5 percent over federal regulators. Twenty-seven percent said both state and federal agencies handled the job equally well, with nearly one in five saying that neither has done particularly well in this area.
“The Clean Power Plan would completely usurp the state’s long-held authority to oversee its retail electricity market, and would instead place all of Colorado’s energy decisions under the thumb of the EPA. This should trouble Coloradans, insofar as the poll demonstrates their strong opinion that local control leads to better outcomes,” said William Yeatman, a senior fellow in environmental and energy policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.
In fact, 65 percent of Coloradans give the state high marks for environmental quality, with 44 percent calling it “very good” and another 21 percent giving the Centennial state an “excellent” rating. Just nine percent deemed it “unsatisfactory.”
Fifty-two percent of those interviewed thought that federally imposed environmental regulations hurt the environment, with 35 percent saying Washington D.C.’s intervention helped.
The EPA has come under increased scrutiny in recent days due to a spill of toxic metals and other environmental contaminants triggered by the agency’s activities along the Animas River in southwest Colorado.
A joint poll conducted in late July and released last week by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry and the National Association of Manufacturers found 76 percent of Colorado registered voters rated local air quality as “excellent” or “good.”
Only 18 percent said that the federal government should have a bigger say in air quality regulations, with 77 percent wanting local and state officials to handle those decisions, according to the poll.
Fifty-seven percent of Coloradans are more concerned about “less economic growth and job opportunities caused by regulations” than “lower air quality caused by pollution,” at just 30 percent.
Large majorities believe that more strict federal air quality regulations would lead to an increase in taxes (77 percent), make it harder for local business to grow and to start new businesses (62 percent), and increase the costs of goods and services (76 percent).
Just 34 percent of those surveyed in the CACI/NAM poll were willing to accept less economic growth in return for stricter federal air quality regulations.
The partisan split of registered voters in the Magellan survey was 31 percent Republican, 30 percent Democrat, and 39 percent independent or unaffiliated. Fifty-two percent of the respondents were women.
The poll was conducted August 9-10th, with 730 registered voters in the state of Colorado participating. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.63%.
*Disclosure: The author of this piece is employed by the Independence Institute.