Most Americans support a carbon cap

A MARCH SURVEY conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, a nonpartisan “fact tank” that provides information on attitudes and trends affecting public policy but does not take positions on issues, shows that a majority of the public (59%) favors setting limits on carbon dioxide emissions and making companies pay for their emissions, even if that may mean higher energy prices. A third (33%) oppose capping carbon emissions under these conditions.

Support for a cap is stronger among Democrats (70%) than independents (60%) or Republicans (42%), but among these groups there are substantial ideological and class divisions. The more education a person has, the more likely he or she is to support caps. Seventy-two percent of college graduates support the idea, while only 60 percent of those with some college and 50 percent of those with no more than a high school education do so. Support also differs significantly by region, with respondents living in the West and Northeast (64%) being more likely to support it than those in the Midwest or South (56%).

Age plays a role as well. Sixty-one percent of persons between the ages of 30 and 64 support caps, while only 57 percent of those 18-29 support them, and after 64 support falls to 51 percent.

Trading emission credits would lower the cost of a cap

THE BOILERMAKERS UNION supports a proposal in Congress to issue permits limiting the greenhouse gas emissions a company can put out, and then allow companies that do not use all their permits to sell them to other companies. Cap-and-trade, as it is called, would reduce the initial cost to companies needing to lower their emissions, yet allow them to meet their target reductions over time. A similar system has proven successful in lowering sulfur dioxide emissions.

A poll conducted by ABC News, Green Planet, and Stanford University last July showed that 59 percent of Americans support the cap-and-trade concept.