The Heat Is Online

76 Percent of Voters Want Mandatory GHG Cuts

US voters want strict greenhouse gas cuts - survey, July 11, 2002

WASHINGTON - Three-fourths of voters surveyed want the U.S. government to require power plants and industry to cut emissions linked to global warming, and not rely on voluntary cuts endorsed by the White House, according to a poll released by an environmental group this week.

The Zogby survey of 1,008 likely U.S. voters across the nation was commissioned by the Union of Concerned Scientists, an activist group that backs a Senate proposal for strict cuts in industrial emissions of carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping gas blamed for increasing the earth's temperature. Hotter temperatures could eventually raise sea levels, increase catastrophic wildfires and kill some species of plants and animals, according to scientists.

Some 76 percent of those surveyed said the U.S. government should set standards requiring power plants, oil refineries and other industries to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Another 16 percent said they supported a voluntary approach, while 8 percent said they were undecided.

The Bush administration has proposed a plan that would require cuts in pollutants sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury by 2018, but would rely on voluntary action by industry to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.

A Senate proposal would mandate deeper cuts for all four pollutants by 2008.

"This poll shows that the president's head-in-the-sand stance on global warming is also distancing himself from the public," said Alden Meyer, a lobbyist for the Union of Concerned Scientists. "We have the technology to reduce our dependence on dirty, outdated energy sources that cause global warming."

The survey also showed 78 percent of respondents said they believe global warming is a serious problem now or will be in the future.

The Bush administration has rejected any cap on carbon dioxide emissions, contending that such a move would be too costly to U.S. industry.

Last month, the administration quietly released a report that affirmed the probable harmful effect of greenhouse gases linked to industry, but President George W. Bush dismissed it as a product of the "bureaucracy."

The United States, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has refused to participate in the international Kyoto Treaty to curb carbon emissions.

On Monday, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham gave the White House several recommendations to improve a voluntary federal registry of greenhouse gas emissions by companies.

The proposals would require independent verification of emission cuts reported by companies and would develop accounting rules for crediting farmland and forestry projects that absorb or sequester carbon dioxide.

The proposals also would provide tradable credits for companies that cut emissions.

Final guidelines for the voluntary program will be issued by January 2004 as part of the administration's goal to reduce the greenhouse gas "intensity" of the U.S. economy by 18 percent by 2012, Abraham said.