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Frank Luntz's climate advice for environmentalists

By Juliet Eilperin

GOP pollster Frank Luntz has a message for environmentalists: If you want to pass a climate bill, forget about a little thing called climate change.

"The least important component of climate change is climate change," said Luntz, who had advised Republicans in the 1990s to avoid curbing greenhouse gas emissions but now collaborates with the advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund. "Climate change is terminology that the public doesn't care about, that the public doesn't fully understand."

Forget the scare tactics of melting glaciers and troubled polar bears, Luntz said at a briefing on a poll he conducted for News Corp., at the National Press Club. Frighten Americans another way, he said: Voters fear "this great technological industry will be developed in China and India, rather than America."

In terms of priorities Americans have for an energy bill, "ending climate change is at the bottom," he said. Turning to EDF president Fred Krupp, Luntz said, "You're fighting the wrong battle. What they want is an end to dependence on foreign oil."

Luntz's presentation came on the same morning as the group Clean Energy Works issued a poll of 800 likely voters in 16 battleground states conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group. While Luntz gave a presentation where he was talking about voters cursing the idea of buying oil from the Middle East, Joel Benenson gave a calmer account of voter attitudes.

In that poll, 58 percent of respondents said they favor an energy bill that includes a cap and trade plan for greenhouse gas emissions, while 37 percent oppose it. Fifty-six percent of these voters said they would be more likely to vote for a senator who supports cap-and-trade, as opposed to 35 percent who said they'd be less likely.

"We think this is a strong election issue," said Joel Benenson, adding that respondents "already believe that energy is an economic and national security issue. They come to the table with that set of beliefs."

While the majority of senators still seem wary of passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation, both Luntz and Benenson accused these politicians of being out of touch.

"They're missing something that's fundamentally believed by Americans," Benenson said,

But if they do push ahead, Luntz suggested, run--don't walk--away from the term "cap and trade."

"I don't believe that quote, cap and trade legislation, unquote can pass because it's called cap and trade, and with all the messaging that's been run against it," Luntz said.

By

Juliet Eilperin

 |  January 21, 2010; 11:24 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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