Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Floridians' Concerns About Climate Pollution in Line with New National Poll

Floridians' Concerns About Climate Pollution in Line with New National Poll

Americans Support Limiting Carbon Pollution from Power Plants, Excited about Clean Energy

Carbon from power plants causes sea level rise on Miami Beach (photo by Jon Ullman)

MIAMI, FL - Americans overwhelmingly support implementing strong standards for carbon pollution from power plants, according to a new study announced by the Sierra Club today. The national poll surveyed 1,000 registered voters across the nation about a variety of issues, including public health, climate disruption, and energy issues. The findings demonstrated overwhelming support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s new proposal to limit power plant emissions, driven primarily by concerns for public health and pollution.
“The findings from this survey show us that Floridians feel strongly about protecting their children and communities, and are serious about taking action on dangerous carbon pollution,” said Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.
In line with the poll’s findings, Floridians across the state are concerned about sea level rise and its impact on coastal communities. Floridians face ominous prospects from sea level rise and drought as a result of climate disruption caused by unchecked carbon pollution. South Florida cities such as Miami Beach and Ft. Lauderdale have already experienced extensive tidal flooding and Floridians could see several feet of sea level rise by the year 2060. Many important gravity-controlled flood protection systems in South Florida will fail with as little as 6 inches of sea level rise. Several South Florida counties have joined together in an effort to plan for sea level rise and address carbon pollution.
“This further demonstrates that Floridians, including those in Miami-Dade County, take climate change and sea level rise as a threat and understand that doing nothing is not an option,” said Maggie Fernandez, president of Sustainable Miami. “This is a mandate to our current state and local leaders to take these risks seriously and act immediately.”
Key findings include:
  • By nearly a 2-to-1 margin, voters think the country should be investing more in clean energy sources and energy efficiency rather than in fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas (61% clean energy vs. 33% traditional sources). A majority of voters (51%) “strongly" prefers investing in clean energy. Support is even higher among African-American voters (77%) and Latino voters (71%).
  • A strong majority of voters (58%) favor the U.S. setting national goals to move away from coal and other fossil fuels and replace them with clean, renewable sources by the year 2030 - this includes 57% who favor moving "entirely away from coal," and 59% who favor moving entirely away from “fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.”
  • Two-in-three U.S. voters say the issue of climate disruption is a serious problem.
  • The majority of voters (56%) believe that the government already limits the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can release, which the government currently does not.
  • When presented with President Obama’s climate plan and the proposed Environmental Protection Agency limits on carbon pollution from power plants, seven-in-ten Americans favor the EPA putting limits on the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can release.

In addition, Tampa Bay-area residents are concerned about the effect of pollution from Duke Energy’s Crystal River coal plant on the community.  The Crystal River coal units are Florida’s top source of mercury air pollution; mercury is a potent toxin that can affect the growth and development of babies and young children. In many states, pregnant women have been advised to limit or avoid eating fish and seafood during their pregnancies to protect their children. A growing coalition in the St. Petersburg-Tampa Bay area has called on Duke Energy to phase out the coal-burning units at Crystal River by 2016 and replace it with clean energy solutions like energy efficiency and solar power.
This poll was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research from January 11-20, 2014. To read the executive summary or read the full poll results, visit Sc.org/climatepoll.
Sierra Club is the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Founded in 1892, the Sierra Club and its 2.1 million members and supporters work to fulfill the organization’s mission of enjoying, exploring and protecting the planet. Learn more at www.sierraclub.org.
-- Jonathan Ullman, Sierra Club South Florida/Everglades Senior Organizer, Miami