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Rabe and Mills for Brookings, "Americans want states to pick up federal climate slack"

June 21, 2017

In “Americans want states to pick up federal climate policy slack,” published by the Brookings Institution’s Fixgov blog, Barry Rabe, Sarah Mills, and Christopher Borick share new data from the National Surveys on Energy and Environment (NSEE), which show that “a majority of Americans believe that states have a responsibility to act” in the face of federal inaction on climate.

“[T]he survey finds clear—and bipartisan—support for states to take action on climate change,” say the authors. “Over three-quarters (77 percent) of Democrats now say they believe it is their state’s responsibility to address global warming, a 20-point jump from 57 percent in 2013. Notably, a majority (51 percent) of Republicans now also agree that states should act, up from just 34 percent four years ago.”

The survey asked respondents to indicate the extent to which they would support specific state policies to address climate, and a strong majority indicated support for increased energy efficiency standards (81 percent) and increased renewable energy mandates (79 percent). Interestingly, this support held true even for those who did not believe in climate change. According to the survey results, “two-thirds (67 percent) of those who do not think the climate is changing say they would support increasing the use of wind energy and nearly three-quarters (74 percent) support increasing solar energy in their state.”

“Prior to the Obama era, states—rather than the federal government—drove U.S. climate policy adoption and implementation,” note the authors. “This first glimpse into the views of the citizenry during the Trump Era of federal climate policy retraction would suggest a broad base of support for renewed state efforts on two well-established state-level policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The National Surveys on Energy and Environment are a joint effort between Muhlenberg College and the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. To learn more about these survey results, read the report, "Strong public support for state-level policies to address climate change," and the associated Michigan News press release.