Anti-growth greens are out of favor in the U.S., according to the annual Gallup Environment/Earth Day poll. The poll has revealed a sharp and growing discontinuity in public opinion. Americans are considerably more negative about the quality of the environment in the United States. But those surveyed are also less likely to favor aggressive government action to correct these perceived environmental problems, less than a majority for the first time.
The percentage of people polled holding a negative view of the nation’s environmental conditions jumped 24 percent, from 38 percent in 2002 to 47 percent this year. But despite this apparent concern, Gallup says one of the “most striking findings” in the poll comes when the same people are asked whether environmental protection or economic growth should be given priority when the two interests conflict. This year’s results show the lowest percentage ever recorded of Americans choosing environmental protection since the question was first asked in 1984.
Only 47 percent of those surveyed favor protection of the environment, with 42 percent in favor of economic growth, whereas last year 54 percent opted for the environment and 36 percent for economic growth. Moreover, Gallup says this appears to be a trend, since through most of the 1990s the public sided with the environment over the economy by more than two to one. This consensus appears to have evaporated.
In related news, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy have announced the formation of a new anti-green, pro-growth lobbying group — he Labor Environment Alliance. Both groups have already lobbied strongly for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and against the Kyoto Protocol. LEA says that domestic energy production, air emissions reductions, brownfields redevelopment, and road construction will be priority issues. The group has announced support for the Bush administration’s Clear Skies initiative to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants, something that has been sharply criticized by most green groups as too little and too slow.
Greens seem to think that the cost of GHG emission reductions is a benefit just because somebody gets the money.