News | October 2, 2008

Indiana Energy/Climate Survey: Most In State Oppose More "Subprime" Investments In Coal, Nuclear Power

Four Out of Five State Residents Do Not Favor Moving Ahead Now With Daniels-Backed Coal Gasification Plants; Most Want Duke Energy – Not Indiana Ratepayers – to Foot Bill for Billions of Dollars in Coal Technology R&D.

If elected, officials in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. are going to continue investing in energy through subsidies, tax breaks and other incentives, the focus should shift from coal and nuclear power to promoting wind and solar energy, enhanced energy efficiency, hybrids and other highly fuel-efficient cars, according to a new survey of 600 Indiana 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 Citizen Action Coalition of Indiana.

Key CLEAN/Civil Society Institute survey findings include the following:

  • Indiana residents do not favor proceeding immediately with two major coal gasification plants in the state. About four out of five states residents (81 percent) – including 72 percent of Republicans, 89 percent of Democrats and 88 percent of Independents – favor focusing first on renewable-energy technology, stepped up energy-efficiency measures and promoting "green jobs" versus moving ahead now (15 percent) with two new coal gasification plants for electricity generation and synthesized gas production for sale to gas utilities, as has been proposed by the Administration of Indiana Governor Daniels.
  • Indiana residents want Duke Energy -- not the state's ratepayers -- to foot the bill for the utility's research & development (R&D) work on underground carbon-storage technology. More than four out five Indiana residents (84 percent) – including 79 percent of Republicans, 87 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Independents-- say that "Duke Energy and shareholders should the bill for its own research and development (R&D)," compared to only 11 percent who think Indiana ratepayers should pay for Duke's R&D costs for technology that captures and stores carbon dioxide underground, as has been proposed by the electric utility and Indiana Governor Daniels.
  • Most Indiana 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 Indiana residents (53 percent) and about the same number nationwide (52 percent) 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." In Indiana 33 percent 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 about 19 percent of those in Indiana and one in 10 Americans would "keep the incentives for nuclear power and coal-fired power the way they are today."

Civil Society Institute President and Founder Pam Solo said: "Indiana 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 Indiana 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 Indianapolis 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, executive director of Consumer Action Coalition of Indiana, said: "It's great to know that the majority of Indiana are very much in step with the rest of the nation when it comes to moving forward on energy and climate issues. Now is the time for our state-level and national political leaders to begin the transition to a new energy future based on clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar."

Smith, who also serves as 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 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 fi nancial debacle on Wall Street, it is hard to imagine that Americans are going to allow more dumb investments by Indianapolis and Washington on the wrong energy sources."

Opinion Research Corporation Senior Researcher Graham Hueber 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 Indiana 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 Indiana residents:

  • A halt to construction of new coal-fired power plants is supported by most Indiana adults. Nearly three out four respondents in Indiana (78 percent) and 73 percent of Americans 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.
  • Wind and solar are seen by Indiana residents as the future of energy for America. In Indiana, 73 percent of respondents see oil or coal as a power source 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 89 and 90 percent of those in Indiana and 92 percent and 88 percent of Americans, respectively.
  • Indiana residents pick clean energy over coal and nuclear power. Two out of three Americans and 70 percent of those in Indiana 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 (7 percent in Indiana) and just three percent would pick "coal-generated power" nationally versus 4 percent in Indiana.
  • Most Indiana residents know that time is running out to deal with global warming. More than three out of five in Indiana (64 percent) 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.
  • The vast majority of those in Indiana see a positive or neutral economic impact from dealing with global warming. Fewer than one in five in Indiana and the nation as a whole (17 percent) believe that "action on global warming will hurt the U.S. economy," while over half (57 percent in Indiana and 51 percent in the US) believe "action on global warming will create new jobs and investment. Just over a quarter (26 percent in the state and 28 percent in the nation) say that such action "will neither help nor hurt the economy."
  • Today's politicians are not seen as likely to act on climate issues. Two out of three in Indiana and in the nation as a whole, have "only a small degree of confidence" (42 percent in Indiana and 40 percent in the US) or "no confidence" (27 percent in US and 38 percent in Indiana) that "our current elected officials in the United States will act decisively on global warming issues."
  • Energy issues will figure prominently at the ballot box in November in Indiana. More than nine out of 10 respondents in Indiana and the same proportion in the nation as a whole, (91 percent) 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 (64percent in Indiana and 58 percent in the US) say that energy issues will be "very important" to how they vote.

Other key findings include the following:

  • More than three out of four Americans (78 percent) and even more in Indiana (81 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."
  • More than nine out of Indiana residents (91 percent) 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 Americans (85 percent) do not think "the federal government is doing enough about high energy prices and the U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern energy sources. In Indiana the percentage is 87.
  • Over half (52 percent) of Americans – and an even higher share of Indiana residents (60 percent) -- are more likely to "buy a hybrid, clean-diesel or other more fuel-efficient vehicle now" than they were six months ago.
  • More than three out of four Indiana residents (76 percent) and just under seven out of 10 Americans (69 percent) think "the U.S. government should set a national goal of declaring July 4, 2015, as ‘Energy Independence Day' -- a real target date for ending our reliance on Middle Eastern and other foreign oil supplies.

For complete survey findings, go to www.TheCLEAN.org.

SURVEY METHODOLOGY

The TheCLEAN.org/Civil Society Institute poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation's CARAVAN Services was a telephone survey conducted among a sample of 600 adults (300 men and 300 women) aged 18 and older living in private households in the state of Indiana. Interviewing was completed September 18-21, 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 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 and the Hybrid Owners of America.

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.

ABOUT CAC INDIANA

The mission of the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana is to initiate, facilitate and coordinate citizen action directed to improving the quality of life of all inhabitants of the State of Indiana through principled advocacy of public policies to preserve democracy, conserve natural resources, protect the environment, and provide affordable access to essential human services.

SOURCE: CAC INDIANA