Survey: Public Overwhelmingly Opposes Carbon Tax

Published August 5, 2013

American voters overwhelmingly oppose a carbon tax, according to a survey released by the Institute for Energy Research.

Only 35 Percent Support
According to the survey of 800 registered voters, 35 percent favor and 59 percent oppose a carbon tax. Democrats generally support a carbon tax (54 percent to 39 percent), while Republicans and independents strongly oppose the idea (80 percent to 16 percent and 62 percent to 29 percent, respectively).

Just 33 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a member of Congress who votes for a carbon tax, whereas 50 percent said they would be less likely to vote for a member of Congress who did so.

Suspicious of Motives
American voters are particularly suspicious of carbon tax supporters’ motivation. Only 34 percent say they believe improving the environment is the primary motivation behind a carbon tax, whereas 61 percent say carbon tax supporters are primarily interested in raising more money for government.

Even among respondents who support a carbon tax, many want only a very small tax. Only 20 percent of all respondents would support paying $100 or more per year in a carbon tax.

On a broader subject, 79 percent said Congress should focus more on the economy, versus only 17 percent who said Congress should focus more on the environment.

Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis, said he is not surprised at the overwhelming opposition to a carbon tax. 

“A certain portion of Americans might be willing to pay carbon taxes if they would do any good, but no one has proven that a carbon tax will do anything to mitigate global warming,” Burnett said.

Strong Message to Pols
Daniel Simmons, director of regulatory and state affairs at the Institute for Energy Research, says beltway politicians can learn much from the survey.

“The takeaway is that American voters are not in favor of increased taxes or higher prices for energy and are very willing to vote against their congressmen who vote in favor of a carbon tax,” he said.

“It’s really simple; people don’t want a carbon tax. It’s a political no-brainer, but every now and then, Washington needs to be reminded about why something is a political no-brainer,” he continued.

Simmons emphasized a carbon tax will raise prices on energy, which will punish consumers and businesses throughout the economy.

“President Obama and congressional Democrats are going to try hard and rebrand the notion of a carbon tax in order to get it passed here,” said Simmons. “Over 80 percent of our nation’s energy comes from coal, oil, and natural gas, the sources of energy that would be affected by a carbon tax. If President Obama and the Democrats enact a carbon tax, then we’ll be seeing the cost of everything go up.”

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.