Strong bipartisan majorities of voters across the western U.S. support a 100% transition to renewable energy, protecting public lands from oil and gas extraction, and reducing water use, including through some dramatic measures. The annual Conservation in the West poll conducted by Colorado College surveyed 3,413 voters across Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
A full 92% of voters are worried about low water levels, with nearly as many (87%) supporting requiring local governments to determine whether there is enough water available before approving new residential development projects, and more than 6 in 10 supporting banning grass lawns for new homes. Well over half (54%) also support paying farmers to fallow their fields to conserve water. Agriculture operations use far more water in the West than all other users combined. More than 9 in 10 (91%) support both requiring oil and gas companies to update equipment to prevent leaks of methane gas and other pollutants, as well as requiring those companies to pay to remediate drilling sites (instead of taxpayers).
Despite the broad public support for conservation policies across the West, Democratic pollster Dave Metz and GOP pollster Lori Weigel, both of Colorado, agree politicians are beholden to their fossil fuel industry campaign donors and a small fringe of base voters. “If you’re in a totally safe seat, your main worry is not getting primaried,” Metz said. “It’s exactly that,” Weigel agreed. “They’re talking to a small number of people in a very specific area.” (LA Times $, E&E $, Axios, Colorado Public Radio, Missoulian, The Colorado Sun, Westword, Las Vegas Review Journal; Climate Signals background: Western megadrought)