Yesterday ThinkProgress reported on the new “Conservation in the West” poll released by the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project that assessed voters’ attitudes towards conservation in six western states. In addition to the overwhelming support for conservation, the poll also revealed how voters view renewable energy. The results were impressive: 68 percent of voters answered in the affirmative to the statement that “increasing the use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power will create jobs in [your state].”
Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm who co-sponsored the poll, spoke to ThinkProgress about the results, conducted with registered voters in in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming:
We asked voters in these western states what types of energy they would encourage the use of in their state, and overwhelmingly they did pick solar and wind as the types of energy they would most want to see more of for their state. And, conversely, when asked to choose among a number of different energy sources they were most likely to say they discourage the use of coal and oil. Part of that support for clean, renewable energy is really grounded in the fact that we saw the overwhelming sense that among these western voters, as we’ve seen nationally, that clean renewable energy is going to create jobs. And voters overwhelmingly in every single state, including states that are more often associated with fossil fuels like Wyoming and Montana are telling us that they think of clean renewable energy as a job creator for their state.
As Weigel told us, voters expressed a strong preference for renewable energy resources over fossil fuels, even in states more traditionally associated with coal, oil, and gas like Wyoming and Utah.
For example, below are the answers to the question “which one of the following sources of energy would you want to encourage the use of here in [your state]?”
Solar power40%Wind power18%Natural gas15%Energy efficiency exports9%Oil5%Coal4%All/combination8%
Compare these with the answers to the question, “which of the following sources of energy would you want to DISCOURAGE the use of here in [your state]?”
Coal41%Oil19%Wind power10%Solar power5%Natural gas4%Energy efficiency exports3%All/combination1%
Republicans, especially the Congressional Western Caucus, have been aggressively pushing more drilling in their states. But the results of this poll show that western voters prefer the overwhelming benefits of a clean energy future rather than our dirty energy past.
Additionally, these results show that over the last year, voters’ attitudes about renewable energy have not changed. In the 2011 Colorado College State of the Rockies poll, 67 percent of voters polled said that “increasing the use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power will create new jobs” in their states. This continued enthusiasm for renewable energy in the West is important to note in light of congressional Republican’s consistent attack on renewable energy over the last year, such as attempts to create a clean energy scandal in the failure of Solyndra. It looks as though their efforts have failed, at least in the West.