Climate change a rising concern for Western voters, poll finds

Climate change a rising concern for Western voters, poll finds
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Voters in Western states are increasingly concerned about climate change and would like to see elected officials tackle the issue, according to a new poll.

The Colorado College State of the Rockies poll released Thursday found that around a third of Western voters, 32 percent, view climate change as the most serious environmental problem, up from just 5 percent in 2011.

The percentage of those who say climate change needs to be addressed increased across the political spectrum, the poll found, with the largest increases among Democrats and independents, though Republicans also saw a 10-point rise.


Those polled were also more likely to say during this election cycle than in 2016 that a public official’s stance on the environment is important, growing from 31 percent during the last presidential election year to 44 percent now. Prioritization of climate change was consistent across all parties. 

“We are reaching a tipping point beyond which there is no return,” said Sen. Tom UdallTom UdallStudy: Chemical used in paint thinners caused more deaths than EPA identified Oregon senator takes center stage in Democratic filibuster debate Bipartisan bill seeks to raise fees for public lands drilling MORE (D-N.M.), whose effort to conserve 30 percent of public lands by 2030 was also included in the poll. 

Western states are home to the majority of U.S. public lands, leading to friction between groups that want to use the land for various purposes.

The poll found support for conservation over energy development on public lands, with 25 percent saying the U.S. should prioritize oil and gas drilling and mining and 67 percent preferring environmental policy that prioritizes recreation.

Roughly two-thirds of respondents also said they support raising royalty fees for drilling on public lands.

The poll was conducted Jan. 11-19 among 3,200 voters across Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. It has an overall overall margin of error of 2.65 percentage points.