American IdolAfter reading earlier this week that only 24 percent of Americans know what cap and trade is (and in the same day, that 88 million votes were cast in last week’s round of American Idol), I needed a little pick-me-up. Luckily, it arrived today in the form of new Pew survey numbers indicating strong public support for the essential ingredients of a national cap and trade program. Who cares if people can name the policy — they know what they want.

So, just the US House Energy and Commerce Committee was sharpening their pencils to begin marking up the American Clean Energy and Security Act (a.k.a. Waxman-Markey), Pew Environment Group numbers demonstrate overwhelming support for decisive action on clean energy jobs, energy independence and reducing the carbon pollution that causes global warming.

To gain bipartisan perspective on American public opinion, Pew commissioned national surveys by The Mellman Group, a leading Democratic firm, and Public Opinion Strategies, a leading Republican firm.

A national survey of likely 2010 general election voters conducted from March 25-29, 2009 by The Mellman Group found:

Americans want action to reduce the carbon pollution that causes global warming.

  • 77 percent of voters favor action to reduce global warming emissions.

Voters say their opinions of Members of Congress will be more favorable if they support a comprehensive global warming plan.

  • 50 percent of voters say they would view their Member of Congress more favorably if they support a comprehensive plan to create clean energy jobs and fight global warming, only 22 percent say they would view their Member of Congress less favorably.

Given the option, voters prefer that a polluters’ fund — an element of a legislative proposal that would require polluting companies to pay into a fund — be used for both Research and Development and to fund an energy tax credit:

  • 44 percent of voters prefer proceeds from a polluters fund be divided equally between funding research and development and being returned to taxpayers in a tax cut or energy tax credit, 26 percent want to fund R and D only, 19 percent want to fund tax cut/energy tax credit only.

Even after being presented with arguments frequently used by opponents of climate change legislation including the so-called “energy tax” argument — a strong majority still supports a plan to curb global warming:

  • 62 percent support a plan, 39 percent strongly with 26 percent opposing, 17 percent strongly (73 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of Independents and 52 percent of Republicans).

“Public support for action on global warming is overwhelming. Voters clearly understand that reducing the carbon pollution that causes global warming will improve our economy by creating clean energy jobs and enhance our security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” said Mark Mellman, President of The Mellman Group.

The Mellman Group’s findings were mirrored by Public Opinion Strategies. Public Opinion Strategies’ research which conducted two separate surveys, one, over the telephone among 800 registered voters, and the other conducted online among 1,200 adults from April 5-8.

Findings show voters believe an economy using alternative energy sources would be stronger than it is today and efforts to reduce the carbon pollution that causes global warming would help our economy and create more jobs.

Other key findings:

There is bipartisan enthusiasm for jobs that reduce our dependence on oil and jobs that improve energy efficiency.

  • 74 percent of Republicans, 70 percent Independents and 74 percent Democrats believe jobs that reduce our dependence on foreign oil are “very important” for helping the economy over the next five to ten years.
  • 63 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of Independents and 73 percent of Democrats believe jobs that are improving energy efficiency are “very important” to helping the economy over the next five to ten years.

Voters make the connection that efforts to combat global warming will help create jobs.

  • 59 percent of voters believe efforts to tackle global warming will create new American jobs.

A solid majority believes an economy that is less dependent on oil and coal, and more dependent on alternative energy sources, will be stronger than it is today.

  • 61 percent of voters believe the US economy will be stronger if we become less dependent on oil and coal, and more dependent on alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and biofuels. Only 11 percent believe it will be weaker.

“These survey results clearly demonstrate that the American public wants its leaders to move decisively in tackling global warming. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill should listen,” said Phyllis Cuttino who directs the Pew Environment Group’s US Global Warming Campaign.

This post originally appeared at Sightline’s Daily Score blog.