This is interesting. The American Spectator tips us to this this poll, conducted under the auspices of Colorado College’s State of the Rockies project one in which most questions were designed to produce environmentalism-friendly results (of the “Do you favor clean air?” “Do you favor clean water?” nature). The results global warming were, shall we say, a bit inconvenient.
Here’s the summary from the poll, which you can read in full here.
This survey of 2200 voters throughout five Western states (Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) was conducted by the bipartisan research team of Lori Weigel at Public Opinion Strategies (R) and David Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (D) in order to examine Western voters’ attitudes toward a range of conservation and environmental issues. The survey explored how views of conservation relate to perceptions of state government, budget issues, and the economy in each state.
The survey was designed to create a benchmark assessment of core beliefs and broad values that relate to conservation, although a handful of current policy questions and trade-offs were explored as well. The results of the survey demonstrate that Western voters share broad values when it comes to the environment, despite differing views of state government, budgets, and state leadership. Voters in these five states are more likely to point to something related to the outdoors – be it mountains, wide open spaces, public lands, clean air, or other natural features — as the thing they like most about living in their particular state or the West more broadly. This is followed closely by their ability to participate in outdoor recreational activities. In fact, nearly nine-in-ten say they would prefer spending a day outdoors to spending a day in a city.
Voters in these five states attach a great deal of importance to having clean water, clean air, natural areas and wildlife as a fundamental ingredient in the good quality of life in their state. Two-thirds of these Western voters view those things as an aspect of life that is fragile and needs to be cared for and protected, rather than as an enduring feature of life that is unlikely to change. This underlying sense of guarding a fragile yet important part of their lives appears to play a role in how
Western voters respond to a range of environmental issues. Two-thirds believe the current laws protecting land, air and water should be strengthened, or at least better enforced. Even when provided with an economic rationale for reducing some of these standards on major employers such as agriculture and construction, three-quarters of Western voters believe the current laws should stand as they are.
In fact, voters in these five states tend to reject the concept that the economy and the environment are in conflict with one another. They overwhelmingly believe that environmental standards and a strong economy are consistent with one another, rather than having to choose one over the other. One area where they see the potential for job growth is increasing the use of renewable energy sources, as twothirds perceive this to be a job creator for their state. That said, two-in-five blame “too many” environmental regulations for costing their state jobs.
Overall, Western voters indicate more positive impressions of solar and wind power as energy sources than they do for coal or oil. However, this is one area where there is a notable exception: Wyoming residents are generally positive toward all energy sources tested. Across all five states, though, voters
indicate that they would dramatically increase the amount of their state’s electricity needs being produced by renewable sources. They reject the idea that these power sources are too unreliable, and a majority in every state says it is time to start replacing coal with these other energy sources. Once informed of the actual proportion of electricity generation coming from renewable sources in their state, a majority would be willing to pay at least ten dollars more per month to increase the use of renewable energy in generating electricity.
Air quality ranks as a top tier environmental concern in all of these states, and particularly in Utah, where a majority of 52% volunteered the issue as the most pressing environmental concern in the state. Climate change and global warming, on the other hand, rank below 11 other issues as an environmental problem facing their state. The latter is the most politicized issue tested in the survey, with attitudes about whether to take action on global warming varying dramatically along party lines.
Table addition and caption: Anthony
Voters are solidly in support of the EPA requiring reductions in carbon emissions from sources like power plants, cars and factories in an effort to reduce global warming. Our past research would lead us to conclude that voters see auxiliary benefits to addressing carbon emissions and a broader benefit to air quality from such a policy.
The political landscape in which voters are reacting to these issues is one of a unique combination of skepticism and optimism, which varies from state to state. Montana, Wyoming and Utah voters are more positive about the direction of their state, while Coloradans and New Mexicans are evenly divided over how things are going in their states. New Mexicans are the most likely to think their state
government is run by a few big interests and are least trusting of state government, yet they express a great deal of confidence and optimism in Governor Martinez (slightly higher than the positive sentiment hovering around new Governors in Colorado and Wyoming).
While many of these states are more financially sound than their neighbors, budget deficits and cuts in funding to state parks and environmental protections are still viewed as serious problems. One of the most resounding affirmative responses in the survey is agreement that “even with state budget problems, we should still find the money to protect” their state’s land, air and water.
The American Spectator has this to say about one portion of the poll dealing with carbon caps:
Finally, a disconnect: the pollsters asked whether carbon emission limits should be implemented, and 67 percent of respondents said they believed there should be curbs. I think this is a poorly asked question because carbon comes in different forms — some of it very gray — and the issue at hand is carbon dioxide, not carbon. I bet most people, when asked, picture carbon as something akin to visible soot rising from smokestacks (an image environmentalists encourage in their anti fossil fuel campaigns), when in fact the alleged warmth culprit is the invisible gas that we all exhale. And clearly the respondents were not made to understand that carbon dioxide limits are tied to the global warming issue.
I liken this to the Penn & Teller prank in which they convince dozens of people to sign a petition in opposition to dihydrogen monoxide (H2O) because of its presence in so many places. If you make it sound like a pollutant, people will believe it’s a pollutant.