Few Libertarians here: Power Poll members favor vaccinations, masks; skeptical of net zero carbon prospects

August 9, 2021 6:00am
Photo of Drew Broach
New Orleans, LA Correspondent

Most endorse employer COVID mandates, doubt Louisiana will meet greenhouse gas target

It seems we have very few Libertarians in The Times-Picayune Power Poll. 

Almost three quarters of those responding to this week's survey say the government, health care providers, schools and day care centers should require coronavirus vaccinations of their employees and masks for everyone on their property. Only 11% said no.

"I have a mark on my arm from the smallpox vaccine, which was administered to me as a child. I am proud of this display, and now smallpox no longer exists!" said Sherri Tarr, chief operating officer at the Jewish Foundation of Greater New Orleans. "The same could be true for COVID. The vaccine must be made mandatory in most instances."

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The survey came as the fourth wave of the pandemic washed into Louisiana and both Gov. John Bel Edwards and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell ordered masks indoors. Some employers are mandating vaccines for their workforce, even as state Attorney General Jeff Landry attacks vaccine demands for students.

But before vaccines are mandated, said Byron LeBlanc, president of LeBlanc & Schuster public relations, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration "needs to fully approve the vaccine and remove the experimental status (and associated liability)."

"A better job must done vis a vis educating those who are avoiding being vaccinated," said Mike Eckert, founder and chairman of NO/LA Angel Network. "There is much misinformation on social media that plays into their fears and their resistance."

"After my wife and I got COVID and numerous family and friends have been severely sickened or died, we have no patience with non-vax arguments," said homebuilder Bryan Krantz. "Get the shot or go Darwin!

Conducted online Monday through Thursday, the Power Poll survey is not a scientific inquiry. But because it asks questions of the top Jefferson and Orleans parish influencers in business, politics, arts, media, nonprofits and community affairs, it does afford a fascinating and non-partisan insight into the thoughts and opinions of those who steer the region. Of 352 Power Poll members surveyed this week, 82 voted for a participation rate of 23%.

The long-term threat

If COVID is our greatest short-term threat, one of the most challenging long-term threats is climate change, driven in large part by the greenhouse gas emissions that Louisiana is pumping out at the rate of almost 217 million metric tons per year. Industry is responsible for 62% of Louisiana's total, far more than its national share, according to an LSU study.

That was the other topic of our survey. Edwards has set a goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and appointed a task force to chart the course, but most Power Poll respondents are skeptical of getting there in time: Almost 55% doubted the target can be attained, and 9% flatly said no.

If measures must be taken, respondents ranked the most feasible as requiring emissions reductions by industry segment with fines and license restrictions for noncompliance. and conditioning industrial tax exemptions on emission reductions. Two other options that drew support were requiring industry to capture and sequester greenhouse gases and taxing carbon emissions.

Let the free market rule? It came in fifth, another sign of few Libertarians in these parts.

Logan Atkinson Burke, executive director of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, counseled "broadly applied efficiency and electification using renewable energy.

"The Climate Task Force must have the courage to insist on the policies and technologies that work to curtail greenhouse gas emissions in order to protect our state," Burke said. "This state must stop providing sacrifice zones to industry and acknowledge that the old ways will not sustain us."

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