Poll: Westerners wary of climate change action | AspenTimes.com

Poll: Westerners wary of climate change action

Catherine Tsai
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER – A survey of voters in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah and New Mexico shows that a substantial portion aren’t convinced that action needs to be taken on global warming.

But the survey shows they nevertheless tend to support federal regulations requiring reductions in carbon emissions from such sources as power plants, cars and factories to reduce climate change.

The results were released Wednesday by Colorado College’s State of the Rockies project, which offers research on issues facing the Rocky Mountain West. Survey funding was from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which says its programs include ones that aim to limit the risk of climate change and reduce poverty.

The survey said 61 percent of voters in Wyoming and Utah agreed either that concerns about global warming have been greatly exaggerated or that more research is needed on global warming before action is taken. Close to half of voters felt that way in Colorado, Montana and New Mexico.

However, about 70 percent of Colorado voters supported the EPA requiring reductions in carbon emissions from power plants, cars and factories, as did roughly two-thirds of Montana, New Mexico and Utah voters. About 56 percent in Wyoming said they supported it.

At least half of voters polled in each state said increasing the use of renewable energy sources would create new jobs in the state, rather than have no effect or cost jobs.

State of the Rockies project director Walt Hecox said he was “amazed” at the strong support for the idea that the economy and environment do not have to be in conflict.

“What I see is a fairly significant endorsement that we can build a clean energy economy, even when extractive industries have a significant presence in a state,” said former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, now director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University.

Still, there have been conflicts with environmental initiatives. In Colorado, the coal industry and coal miners strongly opposed a 2010 law that required two utilities to look at shutting down or replacing some coal-fired power plants. Supporters said the law would help Colorado meet federal clean air standards.

Lori Weigel of the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies and David Metz of the Democratic polling firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates conducted the telephone survey of 600 registered voters in Colorado and 400 each in Wyoming, Montana, Utah and New Mexico Jan. 23-27.

The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points in Colorado and plus or minus 4.9 percentage points for the other states.

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