Looking at the results of the California Business Roundtable/California Manufacturing & Technology Association poll on the SB 350 climate change bill, you can almost see how campaign arguments would be formulated if the hotly debated bill were on a ballot for voters to decide.

The poll conducted by M4 Mobile Research clearly showed that the public at large supports the goals of reducing greenhouse gases. While 82% of those polled consider climate change a serious or moderate threat to the state, when the components of the bill are tested the support remains strong.

Until the cost issue is raised.

Cutting petroleum use by half in cars and trucks by 2030, requiring 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable energy sources and doubling energy efficiency in buildings over the next 15 years enjoyed overwhelming support, all three items tested in the 70th percentile. Overall, SB 350 was favored 66% to 27%.

However, the overall number turned around when the potential cost was addressed by the pollster.

After testing a wide range of specific arguments from positive to negative on the measure — i.e.: California must lead on climate change issues; implementing this legislation will lead to positive innovation; price of gasoline could increase 13 to 50 cents a gallon; electricity rates could jump 30 to 70 percent; disadvantaged citizens will be particularly hard hit by the change – the respondents were again asked if they supported or opposed SB 350.

Support dropped from 66% to 44%, opposition increased from 27% to 48%.

Rob Lapsley, head of the California Business Roundtable summed up the poll succinctly when he said, “costs matter…details matter.”

The details of how to achieve the goals expressed in the bill are not contained in the measure.

Dorothy Rothrock said manufacturers in her association are feeling the pinch from electricity costs associated with climate change laws already on the books and can see incredible increases in the future if this bill passes in its current form.

Which leads to speculation, will this fight spill out of the capitol building and on to the ballot?

If the bill is passed and signed by the governor will a referendum effort be mounted to ask the voters to decide – those voters who embrace the idea of a clean environment and climate change legislation but are leery of what the costs would mean for the economy, jobs and low income citizens?

The poll indicates that the arguments are lined up to produce quite a donnybrook if the voters are consulted.

The poll results are here.