University of Houston's survey indicates bipartisanship on methane emissions regulations

Jessica Yang

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University of Houston Newsroom

University of Houston's Hobby School of Public Affairs and UH Energy has found that climate change policies are still a highly contentious issue between Democrats and Republicans.

However, they also found that both party supporters are willing to agree on the methane reduction tax, which indicates a bipartisan policy is possible.

The survey was conducted during the 2020 presidential election, which reveals that the cost of addressing climate change may be too high for the average consumer.

According to the survey, approximately 81 percent of Donald Trump voters and about 40 percent of Joe Biden voters originally expressed disinterest in carbon-neutral fuels. However, when presented with an estimated price spike of $1.70 per gallon for carbon-neutral gas, 49.8 percent of Trump voters and 70.1 percent of Biden voters thought the price increase was either "affordable, offered good value or was affordable but expensive". This signals that both Trump and Biden supporters are willing to pay for methane emission reduction tax.

A UH Energy researcher, Aparajita Datta, said that methane on a 100-year timescale is about 28-36 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, and the agricultural sector contributes the bulk of those methane emissions on a global scale. However, she also emphasizes the crucial role of the oil and gas industry in the US.

"In the US, it is reversed and the oil and gas industry makes up about 41% of the country’s total methane emissions. It is a low-hanging fruit in terms of cost, so if the public is willing to support it, we are at the right time to have more flaring and venting regulations," said Datta.

The survey signifies a possible pathway forward for bipartisan action on climate change, especially on three fronts: cost mitigation on energy transition, popularly-backed regulation such as methane emission reduction tax, and public education on the issue.

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