THE LIGHTBULB

For months, Republicans have spent a tremendous amount of energy railing against the Green New Deal, the pitch from progressives to drastically reduce the nation's contributions to global warming while checking off a list of liberal aspirations, such as improving health-care access.

If the goal of the anti-Green New Deal campaign was to sour the plan in the minds of Republican voters, it appears to be working.

New polling from Yale and George Mason universities suggests that support for that climate plan from prominent freshman congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) dropped steeply among Republicans over the past four months since she and other lawmakers formally introduced it in February.

In December, the Yale and George Mason team found few people of any partisan background had heard much about the Green New Deal, the idea of which had been gaining traction within progressive activist circles ahead of the 2018 election.

But when people were provided a description of its aspirations — but not of any of its potential costs or drawbacks — big majorities said they supported the idea, including most Democrats, Republicans and independents.

In the ensuing months the Green New Deal has gotten a lot of attention, so much so that by April nearly 3 in 5 U.S. adults said they've heard at least a little about it. And over the same period, opinions of the Green New Deal have also grown more partisan.

Support for the Green New Deal among self-indentified conservative Republicans shot down from 57 percent to 32 percent. Among moderate Republicans, support similarly fell from three-fourths to about two-thirds.

During that time, Republicans honed a message of opposition to the idea. Lawmakers claimed the Green New Deal, if enacted, would ban hamburgers, air travel and even ice cream.

That tsunami of dissent came even though Ocasio-Cortez's resolution does not mention any of those three things. Instead, an erroneous summary of the Green New Deal published by her office, but then retracted, mentioned eventually wanting to get rid of “farting cows and airplanes.”

Still, pundits on Fox News echoed that message, and they were apparently effective: support for the Green New Deal among Republicans is lower among frequent Fox viewers than it is with those who watch the network less often, according to the George Mason-Yale survey.

“Fox News really does punch hard, and is enormously influential in terms of shaping the views of conservative Americans,” said Edward Maibach, a George Mason professor who helped put together the poll.

The survey measured support for the Green New Deal in an unorthodox way, providing a paragraph-long description of the program that said its supporters claim it will “produce jobs and strengthen America’s economy by accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.”

It continued: “The 'Deal' would generate 100% of the nation's electricity from clean, renewable sources within the next 10 years, upgrade the nation’s energy grid, buildings and transportation infrastructure, increase energy efficiency, invest in 'green' technology research and development, and provide training for jobs in the new 'green' economy.”

The language did not include any mention of the possible costs of the program. Maibach said that was because, at the time the question was first written in December, there were no cost estimates to cite.

Since then, analysts at conservative think tanks have come up with their own price tags for the deal reaching as high as $100 trillion, though supporters of the plan dispute those estimates as misleading. The independent Congressional Budget Office, which provides official nonpartisan budget analyses to lawmakers, has not scored the deal. The GOP-controlled Senate ended up rejecting the deal as written in a March vote.

Where does support for the Green New Deal stand without such a description? A March national poll by the Winston Group, a Republican pollster, simply asked whether voters had a favorable or unfavorable view of the Green New Deal, or had no opinion of it all. That survey found 28 percent of voters were favorable to the idea, 36 percent viewed it unfavorably and 22 percent had no opinion.

Scott Clement contributed to this report.

POWER PLAYS

— Bernhardt vows to push ahead on oil and gas drilling: Even as congressional Democrats have been pressuring the Interior secretary to factor the changing climate into decisions about energy development, David Bernhardt told The Post’s Juliet Eilperin in a wide-ranging interview that climate effects would be considered, but would not be the key factor in final decisions. “The law requires us to analyze those things,” he said, meaning emissions that result from leasing decisions. “It doesn’t say if there is an additional contribution, you should not go forward at all.”

On legal concerns around fossil-fuel production: Bernhardt weighed in on two recent court decisions: One by a federal judge in March saying the federal government illegally approved two fossil-fuel production plans in western Colorado; and another this week in which a federal appeals court ruled Interior’s Bureau of Land Management did not account for the effects of fracking from thousands of oil and gas wells in New Mexico’s Greater Chaco region. Bernhardt told Eilperin he was not deterred. “So that says to me that we have to do a better job in articulating certain things to the courts,” he said. “What I hope is, as an organization we learn from any error we make.” He also noted those leasing decisions were made in the previous administration.

On tensions with lawmakers: Bernhardt appears to be making an effort to connect with key lawmakers, meeting privately this week with House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.). He plans to meet with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in coming months. Still, “Bernhardt is likely to encounter resistance on Capitol Hill,” Eilperin writes.

Out with the old, in with the new: Bernhardt’s decor of choice for the secretarial office, which he moved into after he was sworn-in April 11, includes a stuffed polar bear and the skull of a moose he shot in Alaska’s Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. “I’m not somebody who would put somebody else’s stuff up,” Bernhardt said, noting that he and a friend had to carry the moose’s entire body themselves to ship it out on a small plane. “His neck meat alone was 135 pounds.”

— The stalemate over disaster funding continues: New tensions emerged this week between White House officials and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) over a stalled disaster-aid bill. Shelby has been looking to include language in the bill to make it easier to spend money in the Harbor Maintenance Trust fund, which collects fees to pay for port upgrades, The Post’s Josh Dawsey and Erica Werner report. But some White House officials suggested Shelby is focusing on the fund and excluding other issues. It’s just the latest pressure point over a disaster-aid bill meant to provide funding for natural disaster recovery nationwide. Even when it seems a resolution appears possible, another issue emerges, Dawsey and Werner report.

Meanwhile: House Democrats are planning to pass their own disaster-aid bill on Friday, which includes more funding for Puerto Rico than what has been backed by Senate Republicans. “The House move appears unlikely to break the stalemate in the Senate, but some lawmakers hope it could set the stage for a final resolution next week,” they add.

— “To me, that’s a social and an economic injustice”: Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.) called on Energy Secretary Rick Perry to speak on environmental justice during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing. “I can tell you what it means to me,” Perry responded. “Environmental justice to me is being able to pay an electrical rate that I can afford and at the same time emissions are not going up because of the decisions made.” As an example, he cited “exorbitant amount of money” paid by Northeast ratepayers who have limited access to natural gas.

Barragán was not satisfied with the response, calling on Perry to send additional information to her office about how the agency is addressing inequalities. She said Perry's reply didn't reflect how some communities “disproportionately have the burden of injustices that are happening from air pollution” and that the secretary's answer deviated from the agency’s own definition of environmental justice, the Hill reports.

— Trump vs. California: BLM has advanced a plan to open up hundreds of thousands of acres in California to oil and gas drilling. The agency released a final environmental impact statement that is set to be published Friday in the Federal Register. In it, BLM estimates there will be 37 new oil and gas wells drilled over the next two decades, E&E News reports. “If approved, it could lead to the first BLM lease sale in California since the first of two federal court orders blocked federal leasing activity in 2013. In legal settlements, BLM agreed to reevaluate the impacts of drilling from the Central Coast and Bakersfield field offices,” per the report.

THERMOMETER

— Big storms, bigger waves: Sea levels are rising and storms are getting bigger and more frequent, which in turn means bigger waves — a reality that’s leaving surfers such as 26-year-old Maui native Kai Lenny conflicted, per The Post’s Rick Maese report as part of a series on the impact of global warming on sports. “As the R.E.M. song goes, this is ‘the end of the world as we know it’ — well, at least we can go out surfing,” said Lenny, one of the top big-wave surfers in the world. “Hopefully it all ends while I’m in the barrel of a 60-foot wave." He added: “I hope that never happens, of course."

— More tigers live in cages than in the wild: A Swiss counter-trafficking conservationist named Karl Ammann has taken on dozens of risky investigations to expose wildlife traffickers. In this year-in-the-making investigation, The Post’s Terrence McCoy went undercover in Laos with Ammann to learn more about tiger farms in the country. There, the population of caged tigers has grown to three times those in the wild. “Species by species, the world is rapidly undergoing an ecological transformation, becoming barely recognizable from the planet it was a few centuries ago. It is a world reckoning with an end of wildness, where humanity and domesticated animals account for almost all mammal biomass, and the tiger, whose captive population now dwarfs its numbers in the wild, is on the verge of becoming a fully industrialized commodity,” McCoy writes.

DAYBOOK

Coming Up

  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee holds a hearing on mineral security and related legislation on May 14.
  • The House Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on the Interior Budget and fiscal 2020 policy priorities on May 15.
  • The House Ways and Means Committee holds a hearing on the economic and health consequences of climate change on May 15.
EXTRA MILEAGE

— Happy Snow-mencement: The University of Colorado’s commencement was cut short because of a bizarre May snowstorm, reports The Post’s Jason Samenow, who added that Colorado was one of 11 states that saw a late dose of spring snow Thursday.