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More Americans believe in climate change, UT poll shows

A majority of Americans now believe climate change is occurring, with growing support for environmental protection in several areas among Democrats and millennials, according to a new poll conducted by the University of Texas at Austin.

More than 3 out of 4 Americans believe in climate change, up from 68 percent a year ago, the nationwide UT Energy Poll reported Tuesday. The poll, which is in its fifth year, surveyed 2,019 residents from Sept. 1-15 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

The poll also revealed sharp political divisions on several energy issues. Among Democrats, 90 percent say climate change is occurring, with only 3 percent saying nothing is changing. On the other side, 59 percent of Republicans believe in climate change — up from 47 percent six months ago — with 29 percent saying nothing is happening to the environment.

“Political ideology continues to be the single greatest determinant of Americans’ views on climate change,” said UT Energy Poll Director Sheril Kirshenbaum. “Party affiliation also colors other controversial energy topics, including efforts to reduce coal-fired power and levy a tax on carbon.”

58 The percentage of those surveyed who support allowing cities to ban fracking even if state law would permit it.

Related: Oil bosses fight ‘bad guy’ image ahead of climate talks

Energy also appears to be a big issue in the presidential election. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports reducing coal as an energy source, up from 43 percent earlier this year. Sixty-two of the Democrats support that policy, compared to 40 percent of Republicans. Among those 35 years old or younger, 65 percent support reducing coal use, while 42 percent of those 65 and older back dropping coal.

Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed are more likely to vote for a candidate who favors imposition of a carbon tax, up from 28 percent six months ago. A carbon tax refers to a tax directly linked to the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Sixty-two percent of Americans are more likely to vote for someone who supports requiring utilities to obtain a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable resources, up from 54 percent six months ago.

Other findings in the UT Energy Poll include:

Fracking: Nearly half of the respondents, 48 percent, are familiar with hydraulic fracturing compared to 44 percent a year ago. Among that group, 43 percent support it and 41 percent oppose it. Fifty-eight percent continued to say that cities should be able to ban it, even if state law otherwise permits it. In the poll, 18 percent opposed granting cities such local authority, compared with 25 percent six months ago.

Exporting natural gas: Thirty-eight percent favored policies allowing the export of natural gas, up from 34 percent a year ago. Opposition to that policy change has declined from 28 percent to 23 percent today, the poll found.

This article was written by Max B. Baker from Fort Worth Star-Telegram and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.