New Polling Data Shows Californians Are Wary of the Potential Impacts of Climate Change Policy

New polling data shows Californians are wary of the potential January 1, 2015 impacts of climate change policy on their everyday lives.

The results of two new surveys clearly demonstrate most Californians know little to nothing about the California Air Resources Board’s cap-and-trade program or the planned January 2015 expansion of CARB’s cap-and-trade program to transportation fuels. The program calls for California fuel distributors to buy emission allowances for every gallon of gasoline and diesel sold in California, a requirement that could add billions of dollars to the cost of supplying and delivering fuel to consumers. According to CARB’s own analysis, compliance could trigger cost increases between 16 cents and 76 cents per gallon.

The two surveys indicate strongly that state leaders need to re-evaluate the program and seriously consider delaying it or changing their approach in addition to providing the public the necessary education and information on how Californians will be impacted.

A new Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) survey reports Californians immediately abandon support for CARB’s cap-and-trade program – only 39 percent of respondents supported the program – once they learned action could increase the price of fuel.

A July 2014 survey conducted by EMC Research showed a large majority of California voters – 68 percent – are unaware that gasoline and diesel are scheduled for regulation under the cap-and-trade program and feel strongly that the public needs to be better informed.

EMC found 59 percent of Californians flatly oppose the program and 63 percent believe it should be canceled or delayed.  Additionally, 88 percent of potential voters said consumers would be very angry if they experienced higher fuel costs due to the expansion of CARB’s cap-and-trade program.  Potential voters also showed significant concern that higher prices for fuel would have the greatest impact on people who can least afford them.

UC Berkeley Professor James Bushnell’s recent article on California and cap-and-trade offers sage advice :

“Maybe one of the most important lessons we need to learn is whether the public, and our political leadership, can tolerate policies that are transparent in their impact on energy costs.  If not, then we will be left with a suite of less efficient, more feel-good policies that impose only hidden costs.”

Find out more here.