Americans believe stronger environmental protections lead to economic growth and new jobs, according to a new poll conducted by Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates Inc.
The Sierra Club released the research Wednesday as a Congressional committee considers curbing global warming and saving energy by raising gas mileage standards for cars, SUVs and other light trucks to 40 miles per gallon. Although the auto industry claims higher gas mileage standards would hurt the U.S. economy, most voters surveyed believe stronger environmental policies help the economy.
"Americans see environmental protection and economic growth as two sides of the same coin," said Debbie Sease, the Sierra Club''s legislative director. "When we improve fuel economy standards, we''ll create high-tech and manufacturing jobs building cars and SUVs that don''t guzzle gas. Making our cars and light trucks go farther on a gallon of gas is the single biggest step we can take to curb global warming, save consumers money at the gas pump and cut our dependence on foreign oil. Better gas mileage is a win-win for our environment and for our economy."
"Despite the assertions of the Bush administration, the public believes a strong economy and a healthy environment go hand-in-hand -- even though they have increasing concerns about the stability of the economy," said Celinda Lake, president of Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates Inc. "Voters not only reject the notion that our nation must choose between a strong economy and a healthy environment, but they believe improving the environment can actually create jobs and strengthen the economy. By a margin of more than three-to-one, people thought improving the environment creates jobs and strengthens the economy.''
When asked about the relationship between the economy and the environment, a strong majority of voters believe improving the environment can create jobs and help the national economy.
Fifty-six percent of voters say improving the environment creates more jobs and helps the economy, compared to 17 percent who say improving the quality of the environment slows down economic growth and job creation.
Moreover, the poll found that across the board, Republicans, Independents and Democrats all say improving the environment creates more jobs and helps the economy, over statements that environmental protections have no effect or a negative effect on the economy.
Union members are even more likely than voters overall to believe that improving the environment helps the economy; 64 percent of union members agree with that statement, compared to 17 percent who say improving the environment hurts the economy.
Wednesday Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., offered an amendment to the Energy Advancement and Conservation act to raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to 40 miles per gallon for cars, SUVs and other light trucks.
by Virginia Sutcliffe-Foran