U-M report: Michiganians willing to pay extra for renewable energy production

February 14, 2008

ANN ARBOR—Three out of four residents in the auto industry-dominated state of Michigan would be willing to pay for ways to increase the role of renewable energy sources, a new University of Michigan survey says.

Many states have enacted policies that mandate increased use of renewable energy as well as other policies that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Michigan, however, has been among the least active states, which makes these latest findings surprising, said Barry Rabe, a professor in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and School of Natural Resources and Environment.

“The strong support for better vehicle fuel-efficiency standards and a willingness to pay for expanded renewable energy production are surprising, considering Michigan is home of the U.S. automotive industry and the nation’s highest unemployment rate,” Rabe said. “Despite all that, the residents support these changes and say they’re willing to help pay for them.”

In fact, while the costs estimated to reduce global warming vary, nearly half of Michigan residents surveyed said they would be willing to pay more than $50 annually in order to produce more renewable energy. Most Michigan residents support state requirements to increase the level of renewable energy in the state’s electricity supply.

Rabe co-authored the survey of 1,001 adults with Christopher Borick, professor of political science at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. It is the first known survey of its kind to ask Michigan residents about global warming issues and climate policy options. These issues have moved rapidly from the back-burner toward the front of the American public policy agenda.

Michiganians say increasing global temperatures constitutes a serious problem, which mirrors the nation’s perception. Eight out of 10 respondents indicated the Earth’s climate has become warmer over the past four decades. Among residents in the 18-29 age group, 63 percent?the highest percentage among three age segments?considered global warming a very serious mater.

Other findings:

? The residents believe that both the federal and state governments have a responsibility to take actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

? Residents were evenly split between support and opposition for a policy that would allow businesses to buy and sell carbon permits.

? They strongly support government requirements for vehicle manufacturers to increase the fuel efficiency of their products.

? A substantial majority of Michigan residents support increased use of nuclear power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

? Michigan residents strongly oppose either a tax on gasoline or a broader carbon tax as a means of reducing fossil fuel consumption.

The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), which is located at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, funded the survey.

or more information on Rabe, visit: www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/public/experts/ExpDisplay.php?ExpID=902

To review the report, visit CLOSUP: www.closup.umich.edu/

Barry RabeVisit CLOSUP to review the report