Friday, March 09, 2018

Survey shows Americans divided on protecting environment, but many more rate it a priority than they did in 2010

Pew chart; for larger, clearer version, click on the image.
A recent national survey by the Pew Research Center showed deep fractures in Americans' views on protecting the environment, but an increasing concern about it.

Partisan sentiment was a big indicator of differing opinions: "Although 81 percent of Democrats said protecting the environment should be a top priority, only 37 percent of Republicans agreed," Dave Rosenthal reports for Great Lakes Today. "And though 68 percent of Democrats said dealing with climate change should be a top priority, just 18 percent of Republicans agreed."

Among the 19 issues listed in the survey, Americans' top priorities were defending the country against terrorism, improving schools and strengthening the economy. But protecting the environment has become more important to Americans, especially Democrats, in recent years: the share of respondents who said protecting the environment was a top priority jumped from 44 percent in 2010 to 62 percent in the recent survey, "and seven points in the last year alone," Pew reports.

Addressing climate change is more important to younger people. In the Pew survey, 56 percent of people under age 30 said climate change was a top priority, compared to 37 percent of respondents age 65 and over, Rosenthal reports.

Rosenthal notes that there has been "significant" bipartisan support in the Great Lakes region for environmental protections. Last year Republicans and Democrats from Great Lakes states united to restore $300 million in federal funding that President Trump proposed eliminating. The funds pay for pollution cleanups, wetlands restoration, and other initiatives. The same bipartisan crew is vowing to fully fund those programs after President Trump's 2019 budget proposes eliminating $30 million for Great Lakes environmental programs.

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