This morning, the Sierra Club released results of a seven-state poll that reveals how out-of-touch the Trump administration is with the public on issues concerning energy and the environment. We asked Global Strategy Group to survey registered voters in Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, and Washington to understand public attitudes toward energy and climate change, and to gauge reactions to the Trump administration’s approach to energy and the environment. And while national polls show that Americans are increasingly concerned about climate change and overwhelmingly prefer clean energy over dirty energy, this new polling finds overwhelming public support across these seven states for bold action to address our climate crisis and move the country to 100 percent clean energy.
The seven-state survey, which was fielded last month, found that majorities in every state say climate change is happening and represents a serious problem. There is remarkable consistency in level of concern across the states, ranging from 78% in Arizona to 84% in Washington and Michigan. Overall, concern tends to be highest among Democrats, younger people, and people of color, but a majority of Republicans in every state polled agree that climate change is a problem. Unsurprisingly, then, we find that majorities support federal and state action to reduce the kinds of pollution that cause climate change.
But what is particularly interesting about this new polling is just how stable and intense the public’s rejection of the Trump administration’s handling of energy and the environment is across these seven geographically and demographically diverse states.
Poll after poll finds that clean energy is incredibly popular, and our poll finds broad public support across Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, and Washington for ambitious clean energy goals. In every state polled, more than seven-in-ten respondents support their state moving to 100 percent clean energy by the year 2045. And support is just as high for setting a national goal of getting 100 percent of energy (including energy for electricity and to power cars and trucks) from clean, renewable sources like wind and solar by the year 2050. While 100 percent clean energy goals are popular in all seven states, support is particularly high in North Carolina (80%), Michigan (79%), Arizona (77%), and Washington (77%).
And as the country moves toward greater clean energy use, voters in these states support a range of environmental policies to protect clean air, clean water, and public health. Global Strategy Group tested a range of different policy ideas (you can find all of them here), and the most popular were continuing to implement the Clean Power Plan’s limits on carbon pollution from power plants (at least 87% support in each state), requiring oil and gas companies to reduce methane emissions (at least 87% support), and setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for new cars and trucks (at least 86% support in every state).
So what do people in these seven states think about the Trump administration’s approach to energy and the environment? Pollsters first asked respondents to rate how the Trump administration is handling a range of different issues, ranging from the environment to health care and the economy. We found that the Trump administration gets its lowest ratings on how it’s handling the environment and climate change, with at least 58% of respondents in each state disapproving of the way it’s handling the environment and at least 60% disapproving of the way it’s handling climate change. Pollsters then asked respondents to read a neutral description of the Trump administration’s approach to energy and the environment (you can read the exact question wording here) and found that, on average, two-thirds of respondents are opposed to the Trump administration’s approach. And while respondents in each state are decidedly opposed to the Trump administration’s approach to energy and the environment, their opposition to some specific actions is even stronger: At least 79% in each state disapprove of the administration allowing oil and gas companies to release more methane emissions; at least 72% in each state disapprove of rolling back air quality standards designed to limit mercury and other hazardous pollutants from power plants; and at least 71% in each state disapprove of overturning federal rules to limit carbon emissions from power plants (the keystone of the Clean Power Plan).
In many ways, this new state polling is consistent with the national trend of growing public concern about climate change and support for clean energy. But what is particularly interesting about this new polling is just how stable and intense the public’s rejection of the Trump administration’s handling of energy and the environment is across these seven geographically and demographically diverse states. It is encouraging to see that people across Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, and Washington are united in their support for clean air and water protections, climate action, and moving the country to 100 percent clean energy. The Trump administration’s agenda is wildly out of step with these public priorities.