Even with the backdrop of a struggling economy, a majority of voters in the Rocky Mountain region regard clean water, air and land that sustains wildlife as very important. Two thirds of voters polled in the “Conservation in the West” survey commissioned by Colorado College said these natural resources are fragile and must be cared for and protected.
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The survey also found that a strong majority of voters polled believe current laws protecting air, land and water should be strengthened or better enforced.
Colorado College commissioned the survey as part of its annual effort to assess the condition of the Rocky Mountain region. Pollsters Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies and David Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Assocs. performed the survey, which involved questioning 2,200 randomly-selected registered voters last month.
The economic rationale of relaxing environmental standards was a non-starter with voters surveyed, as well. 77 percent said standards that apply to major industries must be maintained. Only 18 percent favored relaxing standards in an effort to boost the economy and generate jobs.
A key theme that emerged from the results: voters consider environmental protection and a strong economy to be compatible goals.
A majority in every state where voters were surveyed – Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – said they favor replacing coal with other energy sources such as wind and solar power. And 54 percent indicated they’d be willing to pay at least ten dollars more per month to increase the use of renewable energy to generate electricity in their state.
States with new governors (Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico) tended to express greater optimism toward that governor, as part of the survey. Voters in Utah and Wyoming proved more positive than their counterparts elsewhere about the general direction of their state. Interestingly, Colorado ranked lowest in that regard with only 48 percent of voters believing the state is headed in the right direction.