Poll: Public supports Clean Power Plan as their states fight it

Attorneys general in Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri are “out of step” with the majority of voters in their state who support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, according to polling released last week.

Bloomberg Philanthropies surveyed support for the Clean Power Plan among Democrats, Republicans and Independents in those three Midwest states as well as Florida. Attorneys general in those states have each joined a lawsuit to block the federal rules seeking to cut carbon emissions 32 percent by 2030.

Poll results showed that 72 percent of voters in Michigan; 68 percent in Wisconsin; and 64 percent in Missouri support the Clean Power Plan. The sample size was 801 voters.

Among those states, “The polling found widespread support for the CPP and concretely showed that attorneys general Brad Schimel (WI), Pam Bondi (FL), Bill Schuette (MI), and Chris Koster (MO) are out of step with their constituents,” Bloomberg said in a news release.

Schuette has maintained that the rules would be too costly for ratepayers, even though state-funded modeling has shown Michigan would not need to make significant changes to comply until 10 years into the plan. He also believes the EPA is overstepping is regulatory limits.

Schuette spokesperson Megan Hawthorne said in an email response to the Bloomberg poll: “The responsibility of every attorney general is to defend the law and the constitution against federal overreach and Attorney General Schuette will continue to do just that.”

Nanci Gonder, a spokesperson for Attorney General Chris Koster, also said in an email: “The EPA overstepped its legal authority with the Clean Power Rule, by mandating how states determine their own energy policy. Cleaner energy production is an important state goal — and one that Missouri energy producers are aggressively working toward. It is essential that we achieve this goal in a way that makes sense for our state’s economy and future.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies was founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has pledged tens of millions of dollars to support the clean-energy transition.

The poll also found that at least half of voters in Michigan (52 percent) and Wisconsin (50 percent) were more likely to back a presidential candidate that supports the Clean Power Plan.

The results come two months after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on the rule while it’s being challenged on the merits by 27 states. Oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. are scheduled to start in June.

The Bloomberg results also reflect the public support for the Clean Power Plan since it was introduced.

The University of Michigan found 67 percent of U.S. residents backed the Clean Power Plan in a fall 2014 survey. A Yale Project on Climate Change Communication analysis in November found 61 percent of adults in the 26 states that were then suing to block the rules also supported the Clean Power Plan.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s stay, Michigan was also developing a strategy to comply with the rules as Schuette — who is angling to be the state’s Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2018 — mounted a separate legal challenge. Those compliance efforts backed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder also had overwhelming support among environmental, industry and utility groups in Michigan.

Snyder administration emails released earlier this year as part of the ongoing Flint water crisis also show that Schuette’s seeking an injunction on the Clean Power Plan rules would make for an “awkward” situation, given that Michigan wouldn’t have to do much to comply for at least a decade.

However, the state announced it was suspending its compliance planning following the Supreme Court stay.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Missouri, Michigan and Florida have introduced legislation that requires the legislature’s approval of a state compliance plan or limits state agencies’ roles in the process, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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