By Jessica Goad, Manager of Research and Outreach, Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Today the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project released a new poll demonstrating that westerners of political affiliations ranging from the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street support strengthening protections for clean air, clean water, and the public lands that belong to all of us.
Pollsters Dave Metz and Lori Weigel, representatives of Democratic and Republican polling firms, spoke to ThinkProgress about the results of their “Conservation in the West” poll, which was conducted amongst registered voters in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Metz told us that the surprising results show how conservation is “a pretty unique issue in the current political environment”:
And one of the things that were most interesting about this survey is the degree to which Democrats, Republicans and Independents in the West really share some common values when it comes to public lands and their importance, both to their quality of life and to the economy. What we found was that roughly 9 out of 10 westerners, regardless of party affiliation, believe that public lands in their state play an important role, not just in their quality of life, but as a driver of their economy. And to see that kind of agreement and unanimity across party lines reflects a pretty unique issue in the current political environment.
Western voters want more protections for public lands due to both quality of life and their economic impacts. Here are some examples of questions and voter response in the poll:
– 96 percent agreed with the statement “our national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife area are an essential part of [your state’s] quality of life.”
– 91 percent agreed that “our national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas are an essential part of [your state’s] economy.”
– 86 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “even with state budget problems, we should still find money to protect [your state’s] land, water and wildlife.”
The poll also delves into the question of public access to public lands, asking respondents to agree or disagree with the statement that “we should NOT allow private companies to profit from using our public lands when their doing so would liming the public’s enjoyment of — or access to — these lands.” More than two-thirds of all voters surveyed — 68 percent — agreed with that statement, including 71 percent or Arizonans and 70 percent of Wyomingites.
The results of this bi-partisan poll stand in stark contrast to the dozens of attacks on our air, water, and lands perpetrated by our recently-dubbed “most anti-environmental House [of Representatives] in the history of Congress.”