A bipartisan poll of inter-mountain West voters shows that a strong majority (77%) believes that environmental standards and a strong economy can coexist. The findings from the Conservation in the West Survey reveal differences and many points of agreement among voters on issues such as conservation, regulations, renewable energy and other environmental issues.
The survey of 2,200 voters was conducted throughout five Western states: Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The poll was conducted by Lori Weigel at Public Opinion Strategies (a Republican firm) and Dave Metz at Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (a Democratic firm).
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.
Key findings include the following:
– One area where voters see the potential for job growth is increasing the use of renewable energy sources, as two-thirds (67%) perceive this to be a job creator for their state. Only 12% think this would cost their state jobs.
– Overall, Western voters indicate more positive impressions of wind and solar as energy sources than they do for coal or oil. However, Wyoming residents are generally positive toward all energy sources tested.
– Across all five states, voters indicate they would like to dramatically increase the amount of their state's electricity needs being produced by renewable sources. The average percentage they indicate that should come from renewable sources is 65%.
– Voters in this region reject the idea that renewable energy sources are ‘too unreliable to be a significant part of our energy supply’ (34% agree, 65% disagree).
– A majority in every state says it is ‘time to start replacing coal with other energy sources like wind and solar power’ (70% agree, 28% disagree).
– Once informed of the actual proportion of electricity generation coming from renewable sources in their state, a majority (54%) say they would be willing to pay at least $10 more per month to increase the use of renewable energy in generating electricity in their state. Eighty-eight percent indicate a willingness to pay something more each month for this purpose.
The survey was released by the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project, which works to increase public understanding of issues affecting the Rockies through annual report cards, free events, discussions and other activities.