A majority of Americans support protections for wildlife and endangered species, and oppose privatizing the public lands where they roam. New polling from the Center for American Progress (CAP) shows that Democratic and Republican voters alike are much more aligned on these issues than many would think.
CAP conducted the polling in December, shortly after the election, asking nearly 1,500 likely voters from across the country their opinions on a variety of environmental, wildlife and public lands issues. The results were encouraging! 91% of voters said it was either a very important or a fairly important goal of the federal government to protect and maintain national parks, public lands and natural places, and to protect those natural places for future generations; and 81% of voters said it was either very important or fairly important to save at-risk wildlife from extinction.
Across the political spectrum, there is strong bi-partisan agreement on the importance of saving at-risk wildlife from extinction. 85% of Democrats, 66% of Republicans and 76% of Independents agree that it is very important to protect and maintain our national parks, public lands and natural places for future generations. And three out of four Democrats and one out of two Republicans think it’s very important to protect at-risk wildlife from extinction.
Not only did voters resoundingly support saving and protecting species, they also expressed strong opposition to some of the harmful public lands proposals put forth by anti-environmental members of Congress. More than three quarters of voters either strongly opposed or somewhat opposed privatizing or selling our national forests and public lands, while 67 percent of voters strongly or somewhat opposed allowing oil and gas drilling in the iconic Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research, who conducted the polling, said:
“Voters are deeply divided on many issues, but when it comes to clean energy and the environment, overwhelming majorities want to preserve or expand protections for clean air, clean water, public lands, and at-risk wildlife. Voters will likely respond with skepticism or downright hostility if Congress or the new administration moves to weaken environmental protections, make climate change worse, or threaten public health.”
The polling made clear that while this last election was a referendum on many issues, it most certainly was not an excuse for President Trump and Congress to roll back environmental protections for wildlife and their habitats. In fact, 70% of all voters oppose eliminating protections for some at-risk wildlife.
Also notable was the lack of trust voters have in President Trump to be a strong steward of the environment and for conservation. One in two voters lack the confidence that he will take the right positions on energy and the environment. A third of voters are “not at all confident” that he will take the right position on conservation of natural places.
But fortunately, 61 percent of voters trust environmental and conservation groups like Defenders of Wildlife on issues involving energy, the environment, and conservation. We’re going to hold the agencies and those in Congress accountable to protect wildlife and preserve their habitat.