Public Perception of a Feebate Policy in California: 2009 Statewide Telephone Survey and Focus Group Results

Authors: Elliot Martin, Susan Shaheen, Timothy Lipman

Published: August 1, 2011

Abstract: This paper explores the public perception of feebates and climate change within California. Feebates are designed to offer private vehicle buyers a rebate for the purchase of a low-emission vehicle and a fee for those that produce higher emissions. In 2009, the authors conducted a series of 12 focus groups throughout the State, which were followed by a computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) survey of 3,000 California residents. The survey results were used to gain insights into feebate policy response. Researchers employed the focus groups to gauge participant understanding of the feebate concept and overall response in preparation for the statewide survey. The survey analysis illustrates how opinion is distributed by key demographic variables, including political affiliation. In addition, the survey probed spondents on their relative sentiments towards climate change, foreign oil dependence, and policy fairness. The results suggest that roughly three quarters of the population would support a feebate policy. Approximately one in five parrticipants opposed the policy. The survey data were explored through a cross-tabulation of policy position with demographic and socioeconomic attributes. To evaluate how key factors simultaneously influence policy support/opposition, the authors developed an ordinal regression model, which could correctly predict 89.5% of the sample’s policy position. While the focus group and survey results reflect some divergence (i.e., the survey yielded more feebate policy support than the focus groups), the understanding gained from this study can aid California policymakers in assessing the feebate policy as a mechanism to address climate change from the public’s perspective.

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July 21, 2015