WMC: Wisconsin voters oppose costly, Wisconsin-only global warming legislation


James A. Buchen, (608) 258-3400

Scott Manley, (608) 209-0568

Over 60% say Global Warming is a National, International Issue

MADISON – With jobs dominating the public’s mind, a statewide poll of voters found over 60 percent say Wisconsin should not enact its own global warming policies, favoring national and international approaches, WMC reported Monday.

Also, voters oppose global warming proposals that hit them in the pocketbook with increased energy prices or potential job losses, the poll found. In 2007, Governor Jim Doyle convened a Global Warming Task Force that called for numerous new regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The Legislature is likely to consider some of those proposals later this session.

The scientific survey of 500 Wisconsin voters was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va. The survey has a margin of error of 4.38 percent. Voters were surveyed by telephone Sept. 15 and 16.

Wisconsin Voter Attitudes on Global Warming Proposals

* 62 percent of voters said they believe global warming is not Wisconsin’s problem to solve; 27 percent say it’s a crisis that Wisconsin should address.

* 37 percent say jobs and the economy are the top issue for their family; 1 percent said global warming.

* 68 percent of voters oppose increased renewable energy mandates when told of increased costs on their electric bill.

* Voters are unwilling to pay as little as $25 a month to pay for policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions by a 3-to-1 margin: 55 percent to 17 percent.

* 72 percent oppose restrictions on Canadian crude oil that would drive up gasoline prices.

* 73 percent oppose paying increased fees on utility bills to pay for energy efficiency programs for low-income families and businesses.

“Voters are concerned about global warming, but they don’t see it as Wisconsin’s problem to solve,” said WMC President James S. Haney. “With our unemployment rate at over 8 percent, voters are concerned about jobs and their own personal economic future. Costly, Wisconsin-only global warming regulations will make us less competitive as energy prices rise dramatically.”

“We could very well lose jobs to surrounding states that don’t adopt similar regulations,” Haney added. WMC supports a broad array of environmental protection options in its “Moving Wisconsin Forward Plan.”

“Given Wisconsin’s weak economy and voters’ heightened pocketbook concerns, it is not a shock to find voters react very negatively to any energy cost increases or potential job losses,” said Gene Ulm, Public Opinion Strategies partner who administered the survey.

“While voters see global warming as a problem that should be addressed, they also see it as a national and world problem that shouldn’t fall just on Wisconsin’s shoulders,” Ulm said. Click here to read Ulm’s complete analysis.

WMC released the survey results Monday, along with the actual questions used in the survey.

“Wisconsin businesses are already leading the way in reducing energy consumption and improving efficiency,” said James A. Buchen, WMC vice president of government relations. “To ensure that Wisconsin remains competitive, and all states compete on a level playing field, global warming policy should be made by the U.S. Congress and not the Wisconsin Legislature.”

Click here to see a WMC analysis of various global warming regulations: http://wmc.informz.net/z/cjUucD9taT00NTM5MTgmcD0xJnU9MTAwMDIxMTMyNSZsaT0xNjg2Mjcz/index.html

Renewable Energy Mandate — The governor’s global warming task force recommends that 25 percent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2025. While projecting the exact cost of the proposal is difficult, PSC Commissioner Lauren Azar has estimated that Wisconsin’s current 10% renewable mandate could cost $7.6 billion. Other projections based upon PSC data on the cost of wind generation suggest that a 25% renewable mandate would cost at least $15 billion, without accounting for expensive upgrades in transmission capacity. (68 percent voter opposition)

Low Carbon Fuel Standard – A Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is a bias against using Canadian crude oil – the dominant source of gasoline and diesel fuel for Midwest states like Wisconsin. Penalizing Canadian oil with a LCFS would likely result in fuel supply shortages and higher prices at the pump. The U.S. Congress rejected this flawed policy in the federal cap and trade legislation, as did the Minnesota Legislature. (72 percent voter opposition)

Increased Fees for Consumers – The task force recommended doubling or tripling special fees on utility bills to pay for energy efficiency and conservation programs, which would cost Wisconsin customers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. (73 percent voter opposition)