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Californians: State Should Take Lead on Global Warming

Californians support more stringent fuel economy regulations.

A new survey released by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found that 86% of Californians believe global warming will affect current or future generations and that 54% lack confidence in the environmental and energy programs of the federal government and want the state to act on its own to address the problem.

Accordingly, 77% favor the state law requiring automakers to further reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from new cars in California, beginning in 2009; 83% favor requiring automakers to significantly improve the fuel efficiency of cars; and 73% percent support the policy even if it increases the cost of buying a new car.

According to the survey 57% believe the effects of global warming are already being felt. Three in four (75%) say the effects of global warming on the state’s economy and quality of life will be very or somewhat serious.

Furthermore, 69% support the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets recently established by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, which aim to reduce GHG emissions from cars, power plants, and industry by more than 80 percent over the next 50 years.

Californians do not have much faith in government in general, but when it comes to environmental and energy issues, they clearly see the state as more adequately representing their interests.

—Mark Baldassare, PPIC statewide survey director

More residents trust the state government (52%) than the federal government (43%) to provide correct information about the condition of the environment—although both receive considerably less public trust than do scientists and researchers at universities (78%) and environmental organizations (64%).

The survey on the environment, the second in a three-year survey series, is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Findings of this survey are based on a telephone survey of 2,502 California adult residents interviewed between June 28 and July 12, 2005. Interviews were conducted in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, or Vietnamese. The sampling error for the total sample is +/- 2%. The sampling error for subgroups is larger. For more information on methodology, see page 19 of the full report.




But did anyone ask the $64,000 question:  "Are you willing to pay higher gasoline taxes to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases?"


Paying higher prices for gasoline is the normal trend. Besides paying taxes at the pump, you are also paying for the tax breaks and subsidies that the federal government gives to the fuel companies.

I have seen gas prices jump from 75 cents per gallon to a dollar a gallon, then to two dollars per gallon. I am sure before I die gas prices will be higher than three dollars per gallon.

Since the federal government won't take the lead, I hope California and other states take the lead. If the USA can set a goal to place a man on the moon within a decade, why can't it strive for clean air and burn less fuel within two decades?


I think E-P has a good question (as it would accellerate higher prices and further drive price-based conservation).

A generalized form might be "are you willing to sacrifice?"

FWIW in my cynical view, a study which says "would you require automakers to further reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases?" is always going to get a "yes." Most listeners will take it as a free lunch. They keep driving bigger/faster cars, and just "require" the automakers to clean them up.

Unfortunately, as GCC readers know, there just isn't that kind of free lunch.


I wonder how many of those 83% that want more fuel efficient cars actually considered fuel efficiency when buying theirs. Judging from the number of SUV's I've seen in california, not many. It reminds me of the old Onion article along the lines of "99% of commuters support public transportation for everyone else".


The New York Times had an article a couple of days ago,, about how the new models of hybrid cars are using the technology more to improve performance than mileage. Buyers aren't willing to sacrifice anything in buying a "green" car, but if they'll gladly pay more for extra horsepower especially if it comes with the cachet (and possible tax breaks) of a hybrid engine.


Batteries don't hold much energy/weight compared to liquid fuels, but their power/weight is pretty good; electric cars can be mighty quick (both the tzero and Tango go 0-60 in around 4 seconds).  The bigger the contribution of electricity to a hybrid vehicle, the more likely it is that performance will be improved.


It's nice to see California continue to take the lead, with states like NY, MA, CT, and MD following closely behind. Since CA's got 36 million (about 12% of the US) and NY, MA, CT, and MD add another 35 million, you're talking about almost 25% of the population. With a few more states tagging along (sometimes OR, WA, RI, VT, ME, NJ), environmentalists don't need to dominate the Federal legislature to accomplish their goals. Just dominate the west coast and northeast, and you're forcing the auto makers and others to either (a) have two separate models, one green and one not, or (b) just go green, since (c) not selling their goods to 25%+ of the US market isn't a financially viable option.

So, well done CA. Keep the pressure up.

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