Source: 2019 EPIC/AP-NORC Public Opinion Poll

Each year, EPIC partners with The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research to gauge the views of the American people on various energy and environment topics. In our last poll, released in January 2019, EPIC asked those surveyed if they supported a carbon tax. Nearly half of respondents said that they do. Importantly, that baseline level support could increase or decrease significantly depending on how revenue from the tax would be used. Nearly 70 percent of respondents said they would support a tax if the revenue went towards restoring the environment. Fifty-nine percent said they would support a tax if the funding went towards renewable energy research and development. That’s compared to 49 percent who said they would support one if the funds were rebated to households, and 45 percent who support a tax when the revenue would reduce the deficit. These findings appear to run counter to the conventional wisdom about the most politically appealing version of a carbon tax and to recent efforts by the federal government to step back from environmental protection.

While many say they would support a carbon tax, few seem willing to see their electricity prices rise too much. When asked if they would support a modest monthly fee on their electricity bill to combat climate change, 57 percent are willing to pay at least $1 per month. Willingness to pay declines significantly from there, with 28 percent willing to pay $10, and 23 percent willing to pay at least $40 monthly. The fact that 43 percent are unwilling to pay anything underscores the polarization about climate change. Party identification and acceptance of climate change are the main correlates of whether people are willing to pay, with Democrats being consistently more inclined to pay a fee.