New numbers are out from the eighth-annual “Conservation in the West” poll, which is conducted every year about this time via the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project, and the results once again show strong support for conservation/environmental policies in the Western United States.
Since it was first conducted in 2011, the “Conservation in the West” poll has consistently shown strong support for outdoor recreation and conservation policies in the Western United States. Even so, Western voters are more likely in 2018 to identify as “conservationist” than in 2016, and the poll suggests significant opposition to environmental policies enacted by the Trump administration. According to a press release:
Overall, voter approval for President Donald Trump and his administration’s handling of issues related to land, water and wildlife sits at 38 percent, with 52 percent disapproving. The administration’s approval rating on the issue was below 50 percent in every state surveyed—ranging from 34 percent in Nevada and New Mexico to 47 percent in Utah—with the exception of Wyoming.
Asked where the Trump administration should place its emphasis between protection and development, 64 percent of respondents said they prefer protecting water, air and wildlife while providing opportunities to visit and recreate on national public lands. That is compared to 23 percent of respondents who said they prefer the administration prioritize domestic energy production by increasing the amount of national public lands available for responsible drilling and mining.
Here in Colorado, 87% of voters believe that the outdoor recreation industry gives our state a significant economic advantage over other states, and 73% oppose efforts by the Trump administration to eliminate protections for national monuments. The oil and gas industry in Colorado has been getting significantly greater pushback in recent years from local communities, and last year’s deadly home explosion in Firestone might be a tipping point in that conversation as the 2018 election approaches. The oil and gas industry spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on efforts aimed at influencing local elections in 2017; by and large, those efforts were unsuccessful, which is troubling news for industry apologists as Colorado prepares to elect a new Governor.