This post includes climate and environment headlines, data points, and key takeaways from recent public polls - including new national polling on pollution in the manufacturing sector, investments in clean energy jobs and development, plastic pollution, and climate as a legislative priority + a major new report on environmental attitudes in western states.
- Data for Progress - Voters support federal action to reduce pollution in the manufacturing sector; investments in clean energy development and jobs are overwhelmingly popular (Article, Topline)
- Navigator - Voters still widely support the substance of the Build Back Better plan, and supporters of the legislation are feeling frustrated by the pace of negotiations (Release, Deck, Topline)
- Oceana - Most Americans are deeply concerned in response to basic facts about plastic pollution, and bipartisan majorities back government policies to reduce single-use plastic (Release, Deck)
- Colorado College - New “Conservation in the West” poll finds overwhelming majorities of voters in western states support pro-conservation policies; wildfires and droughts are especially salient concerns throughout the region (Website including links to state-specific and topic-specific decks, Press release, Summary deck, Combined topline, Voters of color topline)
- POLITICO + Morning Consult - Climate change and the environment continue to be the Democratic Party’s two biggest issues strengths over the Republican Party; climate change ranks just behind economic stimulus as a top legislative priority for Democratic voters (Topline, Crosstabs)
GOOD DATA POINTS TO HIGHLIGHT
- 81% of voters support national policies to reduce single-use plastic [Oceana]
- 78% of voters agree that the United States has a responsibility to reduce its contribution to the global plastic pollution problem [Oceana]
- 77% of voters support the federal government funding programs to train workers in industries related to new clean energy technologies [Data for Progress]
- 71% of voters support the federal government investing in programs to reduce pollution in concrete and steel manufacturing [Data for Progress]
- 67% of voters support investing $8 billion to create four new regional energy hubs to develop hydrogen power [Data for Progress]
- Voters support the Build Back Better plan by a 64%-27% margin after reading a brief description including some of its major provisions and estimated price tag [Navigator]
- More Americans say that climate change and the environment is the single most important issue to them than any other issue besides health care and the economy [Economist/YouGov]
- [Western States] 91% of voters in western states support requiring oil and gas companies to pay for all of the clean-up and land restoration costs after drilling is finished [Colorado College]
- [Western States] 91% of voters in western states support requiring oil and gas companies to use updated equipment and technology to prevent leaks of methane gas and other pollution into the air [Colorado College]
- [Western States] 87% of voters in western states support increasing funding to extend running water and sanitation services to rural areas and tribal communities that currently lack access [Colorado College]
- [Western States] 77% of voters in Western states support setting a national goal of conserving 30% of America’s land, inland waters, and ocean areas by 2030 [Colorado College]
- [Western States] By a 67%-28% margin, voters in western states prefer that their member of Congress prioritizes the conservation of public lands over maximizing energy production from oil and gas extraction [Colorado College]
Data for Progress
This new poll on industrial decarbonization from Data for Progress shows broad, bipartisan support for federal actions that would reduce pollution in manufacturing processes.
It’s safe to assume that public understanding of the pollution from concrete and steel manufacturing is quite low, but Data for Progress does a good job of breaking the issue down into plain language that people can understand and react to.
After reading that the energy necessary for concrete and steel production leads to pollution that is difficult to reduce, seven in ten voters (71% support / 22% oppose) - including a majority of Republicans (52% support / 39% oppose) - support the federal government investing in programs to reduce pollution in the manufacturing of these materials.
And after reading that “the federal government uses a process called ‘procurement’ to purchase goods and materials,” nearly two-thirds of voters (65% support / 19% oppose) - including a plurality of Republicans (46% support / 34% oppose ) - support the federal government using the procurement process “to accelerate the domestic production of clean energy technologies and sustainable materials.”
Generally speaking, federal investments in developing American-made clean energy technologies and new jobs in the clean energy sector are popular across party lines. However people feel about climate and clean energy as political issues, polls show that it comes across as common sense for the U.S. to try to reap the economic benefits of the clean energy transition.
To that end, the survey also finds overwhelming support for the federal government funding programs to train workers in industries related to new clean energy technologies (77% support / 16% oppose, including a 58%-33% margin among Republicans) and investing $8 billion dollars to create new regional energy hubs to develop clean hydrogen power (67% support / 22% oppose, including a 49%-40% margin among Republicans).
The latest national tracking poll from Navigator shows that the stalling of the Build Back Better legislation in Washington hasn’t dented public support for the plan: voters support the plan by a 64%-27% margin after reading a brief description that includes some of its major provisions and estimated price tag, which is actually a higher margin of support than Navigator found in their previous survey in late January (60%-28%).
That said, proponents of the plan are reacting with dismay to the lack of progress they’re seeing. Navigator finds that 61% of the Build Back Better plan’s supporters believe the negotiations “are taking too long,” and 66% of the plan’s supporters report feeling “frustrated” about the length of the negotiations.
This new poll report from Oceana dives deep into the issue of plastic pollution. In general, the poll finds that the overwhelming majority of voters (84%, including 93% of Democrats and 74% of Republicans) are concerned about plastic pollution and its impact on the environment and our oceans.
Additionally, after learning basic facts about the plastic pollution problem over the course of the survey, four in five voters (81%, including 92% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans) say they support national policies to reduce single-use plastic.
The survey gauged respondents’ levels of concern in response to several statements about single-use plastic products, yielding valuable messaging findings about how to make the issue most salient to the public. In particular, the poll finds that statements focusing on ocean pollution - including the volume of plastic that enters the ocean every minute and the harm that plastic pollution does to hundreds of marine species - provoke the strongest levels of concern about the issue of plastic pollution.
Here are the statements that the poll tested, ranked by the % of registered voters who say they are “very” concerned about plastic pollution in response to each statement:
- Roughly 33 billion pounds of plastic enter the ocean every year - the equivalent of dumping two garbage trucks full of plastic into the oceans every minute. (57%)
- An estimated 900 marine species, many of which are endangered, are affected by plastic pollution. Sea turtles, dolphins, whales, and other ocean animals are consuming and becoming entangled in plastic, which can be fatal. (55%)
- Plastic has now been found everywhere, including in the deepest part of the ocean, air in remote mountains, and the rain in our national parks. (51%)
- Microplastics have been found in honey, beer, salt, tea bags, fruit, vegetables, seafood, meat, and many plastic-packaged foods. (50%)
- Plastic is a significant contributor to climate change. In fact, if plastic were a country, it would be the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gasses. (45%)
- A 2019 study estimated people consume the equivalent of a credit card’s worth of plastic each week. (42%)
- Plastic production disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income communities by polluting the air, water, and soil. (41%)
New “Conservation in the West” poll finds overwhelming majorities of voters in western states support pro-conservation policies; wildfires and droughts are especially salient concerns throughout the region (Website including links to state-specific and topic-specific decks, Press release, Summary deck, Combined topline, Voters of color topline)
Colorado College has been running this tracking study of public opinion about the environment, climate, and conservation issues in western states since 2011 and recently released the results of their 2022 edition. As with the last few editions of the study, the 2022 poll surveyed registered voters in eight western states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
The 2022 report underlines some major poll findings that are true across the nation but are particularly pronounced in western states, including that the conservation of public lands is a bipartisan priority and the public is increasingly concerned about droughts and wildfires.
The time-series data going back to 2011 shows how western voters’ concerns about climate change and environmental issues have risen dramatically over the last decade: majorities now say that inadequate water supplies (70%, up 30 points since 2011), the loss of natural areas (55%, +19 since 2011), the loss of habitat for fish and wildlife (55%, +17 since 2011), pollution of rivers, lakes, and streams (54%, +12 since 2011), and climate change (52%, +25 since 2011) are “extremely” or “very” serious problems in their state.
The poll also asked about several different types of extreme weather events and found that western voters are most acutely concerned about droughts and reduced snowpack (59% “very” concerned) and more frequent and severe wildfires (52% “very” concerned).
The study’s tracking data shows how concerns about both droughts and wildfires have risen sharply in recent years. Nearly three-quarters of western voters (74%) say that drought is an “extremely” or “very” serious problem in their state, an increase of 22 points since 2016. For wildfires, 91% say that “uncontrollable wildfires that threaten homes and property” are a serious problem in their state - an increase of 14 points since 2016.
The report also reveals broad support for conserving public lands and waters and protecting public lands from the damage caused by oil and gas extraction. By a 67%-28% margin, for example, western voters would prefer that their member of Congress focus on “ensuring we protect sources of clean water, our air quality and wildlife habitat while providing opportunities to visit and recreate on our national public lands” over “ensuring we produce more domestic energy by maximizing the amount of national public lands available for responsible oil and gas drilling and mining.”
The 30x30 goal to conserve 30% of America’s lands and waters by 2030 is also popular among western voters of all political stripes: 77% of western voters support the goal, including 92% of Democrats, 79% of independents, and 60% of Republicans.
Several of the other pro-conservation policies tested in the poll have overwhelming support among western voters, and policies that hold oil and gas companies more accountable for their pollution are especially popular. Here are the top-testing pro-conservation policies included in the survey:
- Requiring oil and gas companies, rather than federal and state governments, to pay for all of the clean-up and land restoration costs after drilling is finished (91% support, including 74% “strong” support)
- Requiring oil and gas companies to use updated equipment and technology to prevent leaks of methane gas and other pollution into the air (91% support, 70% strong support)
- Addressing the backlog of infrastructure repairs, reducing the risk of wildfires, and natural resource protection on national public lands such as National Parks by providing jobs and training to unemployed people (91% support, 60% strong support)
- Increasing federal funding to extend running water and sanitation services to rural areas and tribal communities that currently lack access (87% support, 56% strong support)
POLITICO + Morning Consult
Climate change and the environment continue to be the Democratic Party’s two biggest issues strengths over the Republican Party; climate change ranks just behind economic stimulus as a top legislative priority for Democratic voters (Topline, Crosstabs)
POLITICO and Morning Consult have started to do more regular tracking of voters’ relative trust in the two parties to handle major issues, and their polls of late have inevitably produced a consistent finding: voters’ levels of trust in the Democratic Party over the Republican Party to handle climate and the environment are the two biggest issue advantages that either party currently has over the other.
Here are all the issues asked about in the poll, along with the margin by which voters trust one party in Congress over the other:
- Climate change (Democrats +22)
- The environment (Democrats +18)
- Health care (Democrats +10)
- Coronavirus (Democrats +9)
- Protecting Medicare and Social Security (Democrats +6)
- Voting rights (Democrats +6)
- Education (Democrats +5)
- Energy (Democrats +3)
- Gun policy (Republicans +5)
- Jobs (Republicans +9)
- Immigration (Republicans +10)
- The economy (Republicans +12)
- National security (Republicans +12)
Another notable finding in POLITICO and Morning Consult’s tracking has been the emergence of climate as a legislative priority for voters, and its extremely high salience as a priority for Democratic voters in particular.
This latest poll asked voters how high of a priority 13 different issues should be for Congress and, among voters overall, passing a bill to address climate change and its effects (which 38% say should be “a top priority”) ranks behind only three other issues: stimulating the economy to recover from the coronavirus pandemic (55%), reducing the federal budget deficit (46%), and passing a healthcare reform bill (41%).
Among self-identified Democratic voters, meanwhile, passing a bill to address climate change (which 61% of Democrats say should be a “top priority”) is now the second-highest priority and ranks only a few points behind stimulating the economy to recover from the coronavirus pandemic (64%).