Strong Support for Clean-Energy Economy

One of the Obama administration’s key objectives is making the transition to a clean energy economy, a priority that is amply reflected in the budget currently being debated in Congress. As with the administration’s other priorities, this one enjoys very strong public support.

In the just-released Progressive Studies Program survey on the State of American Political Ideology, 76 percent of respondents agreed that “America’s economic future requires a transformation away from oil, gas, and coal to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar,” compared to 11 percent who disagreed (12 percent were neutral). This was the highest level of agreement recorded among the ten progressive and conservative economic statements tested by the survey.

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In another reflection of these sentiments, Gallup recently found overwhelming (77 percent) support for increasing financial backing for producing energy from alternative sources like wind and solar. This compares to just 39 percent who wanted to see support increased for producing energy from traditional sources like oil and gas.

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The public also favors setting limits on carbon dioxide emissions and making companies pay for their emissions, even if that raises energy prices. In an early March Pew poll, 59 percent said they’d support such limits, while only 33 percent said they would not.

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Clean energy is fast becoming a consensual goal among the American public—one of the defining features of our new progressive America. Policymakers should adopt this priority as well, or they risk being seriously out of step with today’s public.

Read more from Ruy Teixeira on our Public Opinion page.