Energy and Climate Are Low 2010 Priorities for Americans
The Pew Research Center today released its annual poll of the public’s priorities for the new year. Topping the list is “strengthening the nation’s economy,” which is a 2010 priority for 83 percent of Americans surveyed, followed by “improving the job situation” (81 percent) and “defending US against terrorism” (80 percent).
And in dead last? “Dealing with global warming,” with 28 percent, which places global warming below all 20 of the other issues polled.
Even worse news for climate activists is that “dealing with [the] US energy problem” is the issue that suffered the greatest decline from last year, dropping from 60 to 49 percent. (“Dealing with global warming,” despite its two-point drop, was also the lowest-ranking priority in 2009.) Backers of cap-and-trade legislation on the Hill have sought to recast the debate from one centered on climate change — which has never scored many political points — to one focusing on energy independence, thought to be a political winner. But given that a minority of Americans now believe in the urgency of either climate or energy issues, the messaging task ahead for environmental activists is a difficult one indeed.
And it looks as if they won’t get much help from the president. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is specifically asking Obama to “underscore that climate and energy reform is a priority for 2010.” But climate activists fear that it won’t receive so much as a mention in Wednesday’s State of the Union speech.