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Majority of voters favor creating national green bank, University of Maryland survey finds

In a new in-depth survey by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland (PPC), two-thirds of registered voters favored legislation calling for the federal government to create a national green bank to invest in and promote private investment in clean energy.

Green banks are public, nonprofit banks and currently exist at state and local levels. The legislative proposal respondents evaluated is called the National Climate Bank Act, which would create a national bank with $35 billion of seed money, to support existing green banks, help to create new ones in U.S. cities and states, and invest directly in clean energy projects.

Recently, the White House included a proposal to create a national green bank in its American Jobs Plan, seeded with $27 billion. This came on the heels of more than 200 environmental, energy and financial organizations urging that a national green bank be included in any infrastructure bill.

In the survey of 2,413 registered voters, respondents were given a briefing on the proposal for a national green bank and evaluated arguments for and against creating one. The survey content was reviewed for accuracy and balance by experts on both sides of the issue.

In the end, 67% of respondents said they favored the proposal, including 92% of Democrats and 68% of independents. Fewer than four in 10 Republicans (36%), favored the idea, though nearly half (47%) said they found the idea at least “tolerable.”

A further analysis was conducted by dividing the sample six ways, depending on the PVI Cook rating of the partisan orientation of the respondent’s Congressional district. Majorities in very Republican (58%) to very Democratic (77%) districts favored the proposal.

The argument in favor of green banks that respondents evaluated emphasized how successful green banks have been in the U.S., making the case that this proposal is, “a small investment that will keep growing over time, producing clean energy, and creating good jobs.” More than seven in 10 (72%) found this convincing, as did nearly all Democrats (93%), with Republicans divided (48%).

The argument against criticized the idea that the government should be using taxpayer money to invest in risky new projects; stressing that, “if the private market won’t make loans for these green projects, well maybe they’re not a good idea.” This argument did not do as well, with less than half (47%) finding it convincing, including just one-quarter of Democrats, but a majority of seven in ten Republicans.

The survey was conducted online with a probability-based sample of 2,413 registered voters and had a margin of error of +/- 2.0%. The sample was provided by Nielsen Scarborough from Nielsen Scarborough’s larger sample of respondents, who were recruited by mail and telephone using a random sample of households.


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