MLive: ELPC’s Learner says Michigan policymakers should pay attention to poll results showing residents make environment high priority

Most in Michigan Favor Protecting Environment Even at Economic Expense
March 7, 2017
By Garrett Ellison

EAST LANSING, MI — In a post-election poll, Michiganders were asked a tough question about how much they really value environmental protections.


The question, posed to 1,000 residents over 18 by researchers with Michigan State University and the online market research firm YouGov, was this: Which of these statements comes closer to your view, even if neither is exactly right?


“Economic growth should be given priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent.” Or: “Protection of the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of curbing economic growth.”


According to the poll results, most respondents, 59 percent, believe protecting the environment should trump economic growth when the two come into conflict — particularly when it comes to risk posed by climate change.


On average, respondents rated the risks of climate change moderate to high, but rated the risks associated with addressing climate change as low to moderate.


The poll was conducted after the election, in which President Donald Trump won the state of Michigan by 10,704 votes. Since taking office, Trump has gone the opposite direction on climate change and environmental regulations from what the poll indicates most Michiganders value.


“This confirms that Michiganders give high priority for climate change solutions and environmental protections even when asked to make tough choices in regard to the economy,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a Chicago-based nonprofit.


Learner’s organization partnered with MSU on the poll, but did not contribute any money toward the research.

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