In spite of massive astroturfing campaigns by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and major industrial polluters, a clear majority of Americans support the regulation of greenhouse gases, according to a poll commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Remarkably, just 34 percent said they oppose the plan, while 60 percent were in favor, according to Bloomberg.
A smaller majority, 54 percent, said they felt confident in the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to effectively regulate greenhouse gases. Just 51 percent said they support the agency actually issuing the regulations, while 40 percent were opposed.
An overwhelming majority of respondents, 68 percent, said the government must "do more to hold corporations accountable for their pollution."
Since the 2007 campaigns, Obama has pledged his administration would be the first to have an EPA that regulates carbon, methane and other greenhouse gases. Obama has also called on developing nations to take "strong measures" on greenhouse gas emissions to boost hopes for a global deal on climate change.
"We understand the gravity of the climate threat," the president said during a major United Nations climate change conference in 2009. "We are determined to act and we will meet our responsibility to future generations."
The EPA in April, 2009, designated greenhouse gases as harmful to the public, a classification that gives the governing body the right to mandate emissions caps on industry. The Supreme Court enshrined this right in 2007, in deciding Massachusetts v. EPA et al. However, efforts by congressional Republicans and some Democrats -- namely Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-NY) -- have dealt numerous blows to efforts at increased regulation.
Sen. Rockefeller, with the support of his Republican colleagues and some conservative Democrats, recently introduced legislation that would mandate a two-year delay to any action regulatory taken by the EPA under the Clean Air Act. The bill is unlikely to clear the senate during this Congress, where it needs 60 votes to pass, but Sen. Rockefeller said he expects Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to bring it up for a vote this year. Similar legislation has been introduced in the house.
"Essentially, what Rockefeller is proposing would tell the EPA Ã¢â‚¬â€œ at least for two years, although we know that justice delayed is often justice denied! - that it has to be asleep at the switch, that it must not hold polluters accountable, that it must look the other way whole Big Oil and Big Coal trash the environment," the NRDC's MarkUp blog jeered. "Is that the lesson the Senate learned from the Gulf of Mexico disaster? Really?"
The potential for strong EPA regulations also suffered a setback when it was revealed that new rules would only apply to vehicle emissions and newly-constructed or rebuilt power facilities.
President Obama's administration was also in hot water with environmentalists last week for siding with electric utilities in a Supreme Court case brought by several states that sued for the authority to regulate greenhouse gases. The administration's position is that since the EPA is preparing regulations, the states should stay out of the way, making the lawsuit unhelpful.
"We're very angry and very disappointed that they would take this tack," David Doniger, a climate change policy director with the NRDC, told The Washington Post on Thursday. Environmental groups argue that the administration's position hampers their efforts to act for a cleaner environment.
President Obama in May signed a memo requiring vehicles manufactured in the U.S. after 2014 to have greater fuel efficiency, ultimately reducing emissions by half over the next 20 years, he said.
The U.S. government noted recently that June, 2010 saw the highest average global temperature in recorded human history, as did the three months before it.
Advocates of strong climate policies say that man-made global climate change is accelerating and will result in chaotic weather patterns, drought, famine, diseases and widespread war as sea levels rise and supplies of food and water shrink for much of the globe's human population.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll in June found that 71 percent of respondents favored the regulation of greenhouse gases, while just 26 percent were opposed.
The NRDC's poll of 1,401 registered voters considered likely to ballot in 2010 was conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent.
The NRDC is in the midst of a major campaign to reduce the burning of fossil fuels. The environmental group released a video earlier this month featuring actor Ryan Reynolds, who advocated for political action to secure America's clean energy future.
This video was published to YouTube by the NRDC on August 19, 2010.
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