Environment, Legislature

Among GOP voters surveyed, majority want to break Duke Energy monopoly, doubt climate change is real

A road that had been washed out by intense rains from the catastrophic Hurricane Florence last fall. Climate change, said the majority of Republican voters polled last month, is not real. However, the scientific consensus is that climate change is very real, and storms like Florence are a byproduct of a warming world and an unstable atmosphere. (Photo: NC DOT)

The majority of Republicans surveyed last month would support candidates who were in favor of natural gas pipelines and offshore drilling, according to a poll sponsored by Conservatives for Clean Energy.  And 50% of people who said they vote Republican don’t believe climate change is real.

The results are based on a poll of 600 voters, conducted March 17 and 18. Two hundred forty-two voters said they vote Republican. There were 282 Democratic voters and 76 who said they were undecided.

The margin of error is plus or minus 4%.

Of those who said they vote Republican, 50% doubt that climate change is real and that humans are responsible for it. Only 5% of Democratic voters polled share that view.

Whether a person believes in climate change appeared to determine their views on energy. Eighty-five percent of climate change deniers said they would support fossil-fuel candidates, roughly the same proportion who favor candidates that are pro-natural gas pipeline. More than three-quarters of climate change deniers would support candidates who are pro-offshore drilling.

However, the GOP does show some support for renewable energy sources, primarily for economic, not environmental reasons. Two-thirds of self-identified Republicans “believe solar and wind energy represent technological advances in energy production and should be expanded to help meet North Carolina’s future energy needs.” That figure compares with 77% of all voters and 71% of those registered as unaffiliated.

Three-quarters of Republicans polled said they are more likely to support candidates who are in favor of renewable energy, including wind, solar and waste-to-energy technologies. But the poll also showed that nearly the same number of Republicans would also support candidates who were pro-fossil fuels.

By comparison, 93% of Democrats and 81%t of unaffiliated voters would be more likely to support candidates who are in favor of renewable energy.

And nearly 8 in 10 voters surveyed oppose Duke Energy’s near-monopoly in North Carolina. Those voters agreed with the statement that “North Carolina’s current system of a controlled utility serving as the sole source of energy is an outdated model and that elected officials need to enact laws that promote innovation and competition to meet our energy needs.”

“Technology is changing our society, and voter attitudes reflect that,” said Mark Fleming, CCE President & CEO, in a prepared statement.  “Renewable energy, competition, and consumer choice are clear priorities for North Carolina residents.  This survey shows that these same voters want elected officials to enact pro-renewable, pro-competition policies.”

If these surveyed voters are representative of the state overall, then several GOP lawmakers are defying the wishes of most North Carolinians, including many within their own party. Sen. Brown introduced a bill that would essentially kill wind farms within 100 miles of the coast. Reps. Dixon and Bell filed legislation that would de-incentivize solar projects by reducing their property tax breaks.

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