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New survey finds Californians divided among parties, within themselves, about environment, cap-and-trade issues

Most Californians support tougher regulation on diesel trucks, according to PPIC.
Most Californians support tougher regulation on diesel trucks, according to PPIC.
David McNew/Getty Images

As California gets closer to the time when its cap-and-trade market goes live, its voters are increasingly divided over AB 32, the landmark greenhouse gas reduction law that made that market possible. 

That's one of the findings of a new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California, whose staffers interviewed 2500 adults in 5 languages over two weeks in July for a new study on Californians and environmental issues.

PPIC found that 71% of Californians now support AB 32. That's higher than when then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the law. But while 84% of Democrats support the law, California Republicans oppose it, with 48% against, 44% for. 

Californians aren't divided because they know cap-and-trade is coming. Most of them don't, according to PPIC. (Though 2 and a half times as many Republicans as Democrats have heard about cap-and-trade, perhaps because it's such a radio-jock punching bag.) When they're told about the program, says PPIC's Mark Baldessare, including the new state revenues that will be generated from the cap-and-trade program, "two in three Californians say they have very little or no confidence that the state government will use the money wisely." Aha. That includes 85% of Republicans. (And the survey happened before the California State Parks scandal broke.) 

The jobs impact of AB 32 doesn't seem like its a deciding factor in peoples' perceptions of it, either. Forty-two percent of those surveyed believe AB 32 would increase jobs; 25% think it's a job-killer; another quarter think it's a push. 

PPIC's highlighting the job approval ratings data for federal and state officials. You can read the whole survey on their website for that and for more information about how people feel about fracking. Though, not many people have heard a lot about fracking yet. 

Polls like this are good for reporters like me, too. It's telling in some ways that, while most people support the idea of landmark greenhouse gas reductions, they don't support renewable portfolio requirements if their energy prices are going to go up. And while you see people demanding higher fuel efficiency for cars in polls like this, how that plays out in the marketplace can be very different.