Nearly half of Americans say Trump has had negative impact on environment: poll

Nearly half of Americans in a new poll say they believe the Trump administration has had a negative impact on the environment, an issue that Democratic presidential candidates have seized on in the lead-up to the 2020 election.

Forty-five percent of respondents in an online Hill-HarrisX poll released Thursday said the Trump administration has negatively impacted the environment, while 33 percent said it has had a positive impact. Another 21 percent said it has had no impact.

Voters were sharply divided along party lines, with 66 percent of Democratic voters saying President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE's actions on climate change have hurt the environment, compared to just 16 percent of Republicans who said the same. 

More than half of Independents, 52 percent, agreed with Democrats that Trump has had a negative influence.

Younger respondents were more inclined to say that Trump’s policies have hurt the environment. Forty-nine percent of those ages 18 to 34 said Trump has had a damaging impact.

Researchers surveyed 1,003 voters from July 12-13. The results have a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

The issue of combatting climate change has risen to the forefront for a number of Democratic presidential candidates, who have accused the administration of undermining efforts to protect the environment and have released their own climate plans.

Still, debate has emerged between more moderate Democrats and the party's progressive flank over what action the U.S. should take to protect the environment.

Since taking office, Trump has rolled back a number of Obama-era regulations intended to address climate change and has withdrawn the U.S. from the global Paris climate accord.

The president had argued that the Paris agreement was a bad deal that unfairly hurt the United States, but so far has not moved to renegotiate a different deal.

The issue has drawn continued scrutiny throughout the current administration, including recently when a State Department analyst resigned after White House officials reportedly blocked his written testimony to a congressional panel after he cited evidence that climate change poses a security threat to the U.S.

Trump has himself expressed doubts about climate change, questioning the degree to which the planet is warming. During a recent speech touting his environmental policies, the president also made no reference to global warming.

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA), meanwhile, pointed to a study released this week to emphasize what it characterized as an achievement for the Trump administration in decreasing air pollution.

According to the report, emissions from air pollutants decreased from 2016 into 2018, a year after Trump entered office. The EPA added that the economy had also grown 275 percent over the past two decades.

However, environmental groups argued that these improvements in air quality have little do with the administration’s action.

“They are taking credit for long term improvements in air quality that are results of regulations we’ve had in place for many years,” said Gretchen Goldman, research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

⁠—Tess Bonn