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Climate Change, Fracking, and Drought—Oh My!

David Lesher August 1, 2014
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Last week’s release of the PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians and the Environment prompted a discussion of several major policy issues under consideration in Sacramento. A panel convened by PPIC talked about the survey’s findings on climate change policy, particularly public attitudes toward a potential increase in gas prices when new regulations for transportation fuels begin next year.

PPIC research associate Sonja Petek set the stage for the panel discussion by presenting the survey findings. The panel included Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica); Anne Baker, a senior advisor at the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies; and Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable. The panelists said they supported the goals of the state’s climate change policies. They encouraged a public education effort about the extension of the cap-and-trade program to transportation fuels. The survey found that most Californians also support the policy change, but support drops sharply if it means higher gas prices.

The panel was divided on the state’s approach to fracking, a controversial process for extracting underground oil. Bloom is the author of a bill calling for a moratorium on fracking. Lapsley described the economic benefit of having more in-state oil production. The survey found most Californians opposed to fracking.

The panel also discussed water policies and the drought. In the survey, Californians name water as the number one environmental issue this year, and a narrow majority of likely voters support an $11.1 billion bond that is scheduled for the November ballot. Support is higher for a lower bond amount, something that is under discussion in the Capitol.

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