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Majority of Americans want local action on global warming

Nearly three-quarters of Americans are willing to pay more in taxes and other expenses to support local government-led initiatives designed to reduce global warming, according to a first-of-its kind survey conducted by GfK Public Affairs and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

“City and local leaders are critical players in the effort to reduce global warming, and it’s clear that their constituents want action,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of Yale Project on Climate Change, one of the sponsors of the groundbreaking survey measuring public opinion of local government-led green initiatives. “The public is on board and willing to help foot the bill. All that’s left to do now is act.”

According to the survey, 74 percent of Americans would support local regulations requiring all newly constructed homes to be more energy efficient, even if it would increase the initial cost of a new home by roughly $7,500.

Seventy-two percent said they would support local subsidies encouraging homeowners to install electricity-generating solar panels on existing homes, even if it would cost households an extra $5 per month in increased property taxes, because of the potential savings in energy and money on utility bills.

The survey also found that:

71 percent would pay $5 a month more in property taxes in support of a local subsidy to encourage homeowners to replace old furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners, light bulbs and insulation.

69 percent would pay $8.50 more a month for local regulations requiring electric utilities to produce at least 20 percent of their electricity from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources.

68 percent would approve changing their city or town zoning rules to decrease suburban sprawl and concentrate new development near the town center.

65 percent would support changing their city or town zoning rules to require neighborhoods to have a mix of housing, offices, industry, schools and stores close together.

53 percent would back city or local fees added to electricity bills to encourage people to use less electricity.

However, 57 percent of Americans oppose changing city zoning rules to promote construction of apartments rather than single-family homes, and 64 percent oppose charging a 10-cent city or local fee on each gallon of gas to encourage people to use less fuel.

Findings in this report were culled from two national telephone surveys of Americans, ages 18 and over, conducted from September 21 to 23 (1,004) and September 28-30, 2007 (1,005) as part of GfK Roper's weekly OMNITEL telephone omnibus service. The participants were drawn from random digit dialing (RDD) probability samples of all telephone households in the continental United States. The data were weighted to match national norms of the Current Population Survey on sex, age, region, and education. The final sample is considered to be representative of U.S. adults nationwide, with a margin of error of ±/- 3 percentage points.

Janet Rettig Emanuel | EurekAlert!
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