Note To Gallup: Environmental Protection Creates Economic Growth

Gallup is heralding the finding that given the false choice between environmental protection and economic growth, Americans now choose the economy:

For the first time in Gallup’s 25-year history of asking Americans about the trade-off between environmental protection and economic growth, a majority of Americans say economic growth should be given the priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent.

Gallup: Economy v Environment

The premise of the question is false. As we have learned in the last twenty-five years since Gallup began asking this question, environmental protection actually strengthens economic growth:

California’s Green Policies Have Created 1.5 Million Jobs And Added $45 Billion To The Economy. According to a University of California report, “California’s energy-efficiency policies created nearly 1.5 million jobs from 1977 to 2007,” while keeping per-capita electricity demand 40 percent below the national average. Instead of household income being lost to the capital intensive energy sector, “induced job growth has contributed approximately $45 billion to the California economy since 1972.” [“Energy Efficiency, Innovation, and Job Creation in California,” 10/20/08]

A National Green Economy Creates Millions Of New Jobs. According to a Greenpeace International and European Renewable Energy Council study, building a green economy that would cut United States greenhouse emissions by 45% by 2030 would create a net 7.8 million jobs versus business as usual. [“Energy [R]evolution,” 3/11/09]

The economy vs. environment myth was debunked ten years ago when MIT found that states with stronger environmental policies “consistently out-performed the weaker environmental states on all the economic measures.” The real choice facing the American public is a green economy that offers jobs, opportunity, and a healthy planet or a gray economy of pollution, debt, and inequity. Maybe it’s time for Gallup to rewrite its questions.

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