|MONTANA ENERGY/CLIMATE SURVEY: 72% FAVOR ENDING “TAX HOLIDAY” FOR OIL & GAS PRODUCERS, 7 OUT OF 10 FAVOR FREEZE ON COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS
Strong Support Seen in State For Moving Ahead on New Energy, Climate Solutions; Coal-Fired Power Plant Moratorium Is Significant Since MT Has One of Largest Number in the Works.
BILLINGS, MT. & WASHINGTON, D.C.///October 23, 2008//If elected officials in Montana and Washington, D.C. are going to continue investing in energy through subsidies, tax breaks and other incentives, the focus should shift from oil & gas, coal-fired power and nuclear power to promoting wind and solar energy, enhanced energy efficiency, and highly fuel-efficient vehicles, according to a new survey of 601 Montana adults conducted for TheCLEAN.org and the Civil Society Institute (CSI) by the leading U.S. survey firm Opinion Research Corporation (ORC). The CLEAN/CSI survey was released today with the Billings-based Northern Plains Resource Council.
Key CLEAN/Civil Society Institute survey findings for Montana include the following:
- Nearly three out of four Montana residents (72 percent) – including 59 percent of Republicans, 86 percent of Democrats and 72 percent of Independents -- support “ending the state’s 13-year-old tax holiday” for oil and gas producers, which was put in place in 1995 when the price of oil was less than $17 a barrel. It is estimated that oil and gas companies save $40 million to $60 million annually because of the tax holiday. Fewer than one in four (24 percent) favor keeping the tax holiday as is.
- A halt to construction of new coal-fired power plants is supported by the vast majority of Montana adults. Over two thirds of respondents in Montana (69 percent) would support “a five-year moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in the United States if there was stepped-up investment in clean, safe renewable energy -- such as wind and solar -- and improved home energy-efficiency standards.” The moratorium on new coal-fired power plants is favored in Montana by 59 percent of Republicans, 83 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of Independents.
- Nearly three out of five Montana residents (56 percent) want the new President and Congress to seek “independence from foreign energy primarily (by) promoting energy sources such as wind or solar, more conservation of energy, and hybrid or other highly fuel-efficient cars.” Only about a third of state residents (35 percent) favor achieving “independence from foreign energy primarily by promoting energy sources such as more coal-fired power plants, oil from offshore drilling and nuclear power.” Fewer than one in 10 state residents (7 percent) see no need to change U.S. consumption of foreign energy.
Beth Kaeding, chair, Northern Plains Resource Council, Billings, MT., said: "It is good news that the majority of Montanans believe, like most in the rest of the nation, that it is imperative that we move forward on energy and global climate issues. Citizens across the board want our state and national leaders to focus resources and policies on clean, renewable and alternative energy sources."
Civil Society Institute President and Founder Pam Solo said: “Montana residents deserve credit for understanding that more investment by the state and federal governments in coal and nuclear power is essentially the same thing as investing in subprime mortgages. If Montana taxpayers are going to directly or indirectly underwrite energy development and energy-intensive industries –- such as the auto industry – we need to insist that state officials in Montana and the next Congress and President make good, solid investments that make sense for the long-term of our country. The only energy investments that rise above the ‘subprime’ level today are wind, solar and other clean renewable energy in concert with enhanced energy efficiency.”
Grant Smith, national project coordinator for TheCLEAN.org, added: “Investments in coal and nuclear power are the Countrywide Financial subprime mortgages of the energy world. What the public is saying in this survey is that we support government making investments in the energy sources of tomorrow, but we have to stop flushing money down the drain by propping up the failing energy sources of yesterday, including oil, coal and nuclear. It makes no sense to be making 50-year investments in new coal-fired power plants. Energy efficiency and renewable technologies already have overtaken, in many instances, or will soon overtake, in other instances, coal-fired power in terms of direct cost and are far superior in terms of financial risk, economic benefit, and the ability to address global warming. There is no viable model under which new nuclear power plants can be constructed as anything other than multi-billion-dollar public works boondoggles. After the current financial debacle on Wall Street, it is hard to imagine that Americans are going to allow more dumb investments by Montana and Washington on the wrong energy sources.”
Opinion Research Corporation Senior Vice President Wayne Russum said: “What we see in our survey work is that national and state-level attitudes about energy and climate action vary relatively little. In fact, in some respects, the residents of Montana are even more inclined than other Americans to look beyond coal and other carbon-based fuels to renewable energy sources.”
OTHER KEY FINDINGS
TheCLEAN.org/Civil Society Institute survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation also found the following about the views of Montana residents:
- Only one in 10 Montana residents favor allowing the production of gasoline or diesel substitutes from coal - also referred to as "coal to liquids" or "liquid coal" – to be subsidized “without any additional environment controls.” About two out of five state residents (39 percent) oppose subsidies for coal to liquids under any circumstances. About half (48 percent) would permit subsidies “but only with stringent environmental controls.”
- Most Montana residents want to see government aid for wind and solar power put on the same or better footing than coal-fired and nuclear power plants. Over half of Montana residents (52 percent) and the same number nationwide want the government to “evenly divide” any subsidies, tax breaks or other incentives for new construction “between nuclear power and coal-fired power plants and energy sources such as wind and solar.” About a third (31 percent) of those in Montana and 30 percent of Americans would go further, having the government “shift all or most of them from nuclear power and coal-fired power plants to energy sources such as wind and solar.” Only 11 percent of those in Montana and one in 10 Americans would “keep the incentives for nuclear power and coal-fired power the way they are today.”
- Wind and solar are seen by Montana residents as the future of energy for America. In Montana, 68 percent of respondents see oil and 56 percent coal as power sources of yesterday. This compares to more than two out of three Americans who now see coal (70 percent) and oil (67 percent) as the “power sources of yesterday.” By contrast, solar and wind are seen as “power sources of tomorrow” by 90 and 95 percent of those in Montana and 92 percent and 88 percent of Americans, respectively.
- Montana residents pick clean energy over coal and nuclear power. Two out of three Americans and the same percentage of those in Montana would ask for wind, solar and other renewable energy technologies if they could “tell your power or utility company where to get the power to run your house.” By contrast, only 8 percent nationally would pick nuclear power (the same as in Montana) and just 3 percent would pick “coal-generated power” nationally and in Montana.
- Most Montana residents know that time is running out to deal with global warming. Three out of five of those in Montana and a similar proportion of Americans (63 percent) believe that “global warming is a problem and we have limited time to figure out the solutions to it.”
- Energy issues will figure prominently at the ballot box in November in Montana. Nine out of 10 respondents in Montana and 91 percent in the nation as a whole say that “the views of candidates on energy-related issues -- such as gasoline prices, home heating oil prices, global warming and energy independence” will be important as they vote in 2008. Of this amount nearly three in five (54 percent in Montana and 58 percent nationwide) say that energy issues will be “very important” to how they vote.
Other key findings include the following:
- The vast majority of those in Montana see a positive or neutral economic impact from dealing with global warming. Fewer than one in five in Montana (15 percent) and the nation as a whole (17 percent) believe that “action on global warming will hurt the U.S. economy,” while over half (58 percent in Montana and 51 percent in the US) believe “action on global warming will create new jobs and investment.” About a quarter (24 percent in Montana and 28 percent nationwide) say that such action “will neither help nor hurt the economy.”
- Today’s politicians are not seen as likely to act on climate issues. Nearly half of those in Montana (45 percent) and 40 percent nationwide, have “only a small degree of confidence” while one in four have “no confidence” (27 percent in US and 25 percent in Montana) that “our current elected officials in the United States will act decisively on global warming issues.”
- More than three out of four Americans (78 percent) and slightly more in Montana (80 percent) agree with the following statement: “The effects of global warming require that we take timely and decisive steps for renewable, safe and clean energy sources. We need transitional technologies on our path to energy independence. There are tough choices to be made and tradeoffs. We cannot afford to postpone decisions since there are no perfect options.”
- Nine out of ten Montana residents agree with the following statement: “The reliance on fossil fuels is the product of the industrial revolution of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Do you think it is time for our nation to start thinking in terms of the concept of a ‘new industrial revolution,’ one that is characterized by the orderly phasing out of fossil fuels and the phasing in of clean, renewable energy sources -- many of which are available now, such as wind and solar for electricity, hybrid and clean diesel technologies for cars?”
- More than four out of five Montana residents (85 percent) and the same percentage nationwide do not think “the federal government is doing enough about high energy prices and the U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern energy sources.”
For complete survey findings, go to http://www.TheCLEAN.org.
The TheCLEAN.org/Civil Society Institute poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation’s CARAVAN Services was a telephone survey conducted among a sample of 601 adults (301 men and 300 women) aged 18 and older living in private households in the state of Montana. Interviewing was completed October 1-5, 2008. The survey was weighted by age and gender to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total population. The margin of error for surveys with samples of around 600 respondents, at the 95 percent confidence level, is plus or minus 4 percentage points. Smaller sub-groups in any survey will have larger error margins.
ABOUT CSI AND THECLEAN.ORG
The nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute
(http://www.CivilSocietyInstitute.org) is a think tank that serves as a catalyst for change by creating problem-solving interactions among people, and between communities, government and business that can help to improve society. Since 2003, CSI has conducted more than 20 major surveys and reports on energy and auto issues, including vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, consumer demand for hybrids/other highly-fuel efficient vehicles, global warming and renewable energy. In addition to being a co-convener of TheCLEAN.org, the Civil Society Institute also is the parent organization of 40MPG.org (http://www.40MPG.org) and the Hybrid Owners of America (http://www.HybridOwnersofAmerica.org).
TheClean.org (http://www.TheCLEAN.org) is a collaborative movement of state and local organizations and individuals who will encourage and support policy makers at all levels of government to implement new energy policies. The Civil Society Institute worked with grassroots organizations across the United States to help organize the TheClean.org campaign.
For 35 years, the Northern Plains Resource Council has been committed to organizing Montana citizens to protect our water quality, family farming and ranching, and our unique quality of life. Visit http://www.northernplains.org/ on the Web.
CONTACT: Ailis Aaron Wolf, (703) 276-3265 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A streaming audio recording of the related Montana news event will be available on the Web as of 4 p.m. MT/6 p.m. ET on October 23, 2008 at http://www.TheClean.org and http://www.civilsocietyinstitute.org.