Ethics & Religion
October 25, 2016
Americans for Clean Power
By Mike McManus
An innovative strategy has been developed to give Americans a voice on
major public policy issues called "Voice of the People" created by
Steven Kull. What's significant is that if given the facts, and balanced
pro and con arguments on the issues, overwhelming majorities of the
public can come to a consensus on issues that appear to be very
A representative sample of the population at the national, state or
Congressional District level are asked to be a "Citizen Cabinet" which
is consulted through an online process called a "policymaking
simulation," in which they are briefed on an issue and the policy
options Congress is considering. Then citizens read arguments for and
against each alternative.
Participants are asked to make their recommendations, in a context in
which they are required to deal with real tradeoffs. The issues are
framed with Congressional staffers of both parties, as well as
independent experts, to ensure that the options are accurate, balanced
and have the strongest arguments pro and con.
Republicans and Democrats have long been at odds over the climate.
Therefore the Voice of the People sought to see how America might
produce cleaner power. First, 6,000 Americans were asked if they favored
reducing air pollution in energy production. Some 74% of agreed, along
with 51% of Republicans and 93% of Democrats. Seven in 10 also said
reducing greenhouse gases is a high priority, but only 44% of
Next, Americans were asked if they supported an international agreement
recently negotiated in Paris that called each country to cut greenhouse
gases by 2% per year. Some 71% of Americans favored adoption of the 2%
annual reductions including 52% of Republicans.
The Federal Government adopted a Clean Power Plan (CPP) in August, 2015,
which seeks to lower the carbon dioxide emissions of the country's power
plants. States are asked to submit their plan to do so - or to accept a
CPP of the Environmental Protection Administration.
Twenty-four states balked, and sued the EPA, claiming it is overreaching
the Clean Air Act. The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to block the EPA
rule pending a ruling on its legality. That issue was taken to the D.C.
Federal Court of Appeals, which heard the arguments in September. A
decision is expected to be made in January.
What does the public think of the Clean Power Plan? Seven in ten (69%)
favor it, but slightly less than a majority of Republicans (47%).
The public was presented with two options for mitigating the effects of
the CPP on the coal industry. When asked if they favored federal
subsidies to develop and build new technologies to capture and store
carbon dioxide, only 44% agreed. However, 69% favored government
assistance to help coal workers who lose their jobs - including 59% of
Large bipartisan majorities also favored tax credits to consumers and
businesses to install fuel-efficient lighting, doors, windows and
insulation - 75% of the public as a whole, including two-thirds of
Republicans. Similar percentages favored tax credits for wind and fuel
When asked if they favored requiring power companies to have a minimum
portion of their electricity come from renewable sources such as solar,
wind and bio-gas, three-quarters of Americans agreed.
Similar percentages supported raising the fuel efficiency of light cars
and trucks from 2017 to 2025.
However, only a bare majority (51%) favored having a carbon tax as a
means of encouraging the reduction of carbon dioxide, with only 29% of
Republicans agreeing. But when asked if they favored a carbon tax,
provided that there were an offsetting tax credit for people with low to
middle incomes, two-thirds agreed, though only 44% of the GOP.
On each of these issues, the Voice of the People was not only solicited
at the national level, but also oversampled in some of the 24 states
that are suing EPA - Oklahoma, Texas, Florida and Ohio. What's
encouraging is that two-thirds of people in states suing EPA agreed with
the Clean Power Plan being litigated, and even 62% of those whose family
has worked in the coal industry!
The Voice of the People clearly supports most initiatives to improve
environmental quality. Only the proposed carbon tax and subsidies to
develop new technologies did not win support.
In a highly conflicted election, when there seems to be zero agreement
on the issues and much mud-slinging - it is heartening to not only learn
of a process giving average Americans a voice, but that two-thirds to
three-fourths of Americans agree on most answers.
If you would like to be heard as a Voice of the People, go to
Copyright (c) 2016 Michel J. McManus,
President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. For previous
columns go to
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