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Public Opinion Snapshot: Americans Still Support Environmental Protection

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Given today’s economic problems, you’d think the public would be in a surly mood about environmental protection, seeing it as a secondary and perhaps conflicting priority to jobs and economic growth. That’s certainly what conservatives are hoping as they continue to push their environment-wrecking agenda.

Turns out, though, the public didn’t get the memo. In the recently released poll from Yale University’s and George Mason University’s climate change communication programs, 58 percent of poll respondents said that protecting the environment improves economic growth and creates new jobs. Just 17 percent thought environmental protection hurts growth and jobs, and 25 percent thought there was no effect.

Figure 1

In the same poll, when asked to choose directly which was more important—environmental protection or economic growth—the public decisively favored protecting the environment 62 percent to 38 percent when there is a conflict between the two goals.

Figure 2

So no, the bad economy has not turned the public off to environmental protection. Conservatives, if they are wise, will factor that into their political calculations.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis, go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.

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