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Survey: Waning Support for Alternative Energy Among Westerners

Meanwhile, support for mining and drilling has gone up

Skytruth

Wells stretch to the horizon in a Wyoming gas field. A recent Pew survey found increased support in the West for expanded gas and oil drilling.

As gas prices surge, support is waning for alternative energy sources, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center released last week. The decline has been particularly pronounced in the western U.S., a region characterized in previous surveys by strong support for alternative energy.

Ebbing enthusiasm for alternatives, according to the survey, is coupled with greater support for “traditional” gas and oil development. In a survey last year conducted by Pew, 73% of Western respondents said they supported increased development of alternative energy, while only 19% were in support of increased development of traditional sources such as oil, gas and coal.

Fast-forward a year. With the price of gas nationwide averaging close to $4 per gallon – up nearly 9% from the same period last year – the percentage of respondents in support of alternatives declined by 20 percentage points, whereas support for expanding mining and drilling jumped by 20 points, to 39%.

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EPA’s New Carbon Rule Doesn’t Do Much in CA

California enacted similar limits to pollution from power plants in 2006

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The EPA's new rule limits carbon emissions from new power plants nationwide.

The US Environmental Protection Agency will, for the first time, begin restricting greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants. The EPA’s new standard limits how many pounds of carbon can be emitted per megawatt-hour of electricity generated. It doesn’t apply to existing power plants or to new plants that have already been permitted, and natural gas-powered plants should be able to meet the standard without changes. But coal-powered plants will no longer make the cut without adding carbon capture and sequestration technology.

This won’t have much of an effect on California’s energy industry, Dave Clegern from the California Air Resources Board told me, though he’s not complaining. “It’s always good to see a national standard, and we’re glad the EPA is doing it.”

Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a similar standard for power plants in California back in 2006. The state gets very little electricity from coal-powered plants, and the coal-fired power California residents do use comes from outside of California.

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