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POLL INDICATES VOTER SUPPORT FOR A GREENER NEVADA

June 2, 2000                                                                  

Nevada -- Nevada voters are extremely concerned about clean water and air, and 84 percent say that environmental issues play a role in how they make their voting decision, according to a statewide poll released today. 

Greenberg Quinlan Research, Inc. polled 600 Nevadans likely to vote in the 2000 election and found that voters in all parts of the state and across party lines have a strong commitment to environmental protection.  The poll was conducted between February 29 and March 5, 2000 for the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.  

"For the first time, a comprehensive statewide poll on environmental issues has been conducted in Nevada and the results show that Nevada is greener than expected," said Kaitlin Backlund, Executive Director of Citizen Alert.

Support for stronger environmental protection was wide spread across many key issues such as clean water and air, wilderness protection, the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, urban sprawl, and toxic pollution.  Concern about clean water and air (61 percent) falls below concern about crime and drugs (75 percent) and education (70 percent) but ranks significantly ahead of taxes (54 percent).

"Nevadans clearly oppose pollution of our water and air.  Policy makers need to reflect this broad based concern and address the industries that contribute to toxic pollution," said Tom Myers, Director of Great Basin Mine Watch.

The majority of Nevadans do not believe that there must be a trade-off between the environment and the economy.  Of those who do believe there is a trade-off, a greater number of voters would choose the environment over the economy.

"This poll clearly shows that Nevadans understand the relationship between a healthy environment and a healthy economy," said Matt Holford, Executive Director of Nevada Trout Unlimited. "The fact is that Nevadans believe that clean water and healthy ecosystems can go hand in hand with improved local economies and quality of life.  It's high time Nevada's lawmakers listen to the people and make natural resource protection a top policy priority."

Although more Nevadans believe that government generally does the right thing rather than the wrong thing on the environment, 70 percent of voters believe that the laws protecting the environment are either not strong enough or are not being enforced. 

"Contrary to what many of our legislators believe, Nevadans want more environmental protection and enforcement, not less," said Marge Sill, of the Toiyabe Chapter of Sierra Club.   "I think we will see the environment take center stage in the public policy debate, from the protection of public lands in Nevada to urban sprawl to water allocation."

Highlights of the poll include:

  • Voters in Nevada are nearly unanimous (84 percent) in saying that environmental issues are an important consideration in making a voting decision.
  • When given a choice, more than 7 in 10 voters (71 percent) say they would favor a candidate who would act in the best interests of the environment over a candidate who would reduce the regulatory burden on business. 
  • Clean air and water is in the top tier of issues that Nevada’s voters are concerned about.  When thinking about the future, 61 percent of voters are extremely concerned about clean air and water.  While this falls behind crime and drugs (75 percent) and education (70 percent), it ranks significantly ahead of taxes (54 percent).
  • The overwhelming majority of Nevadans (68 percent) do not believe that there has to be a tradeoff between the environment and the economy.  Among those who do believe there is a tradeoff, a greater number of likely voters would choose a clean environment over a strong economy (48 percent environment - 45 percent economy). 
  • Nevadans want more environmental protection, not less.  Slightly more Nevadans believe that government generally does the right thing rather than the wrong thing on the environment (48 percent right thing, 36 percent wrong thing). However, 70 percent of voters believe that the laws protecting the environment are either not strong enough or are not being enforced sufficiently. 
  • Nevada’s voters are sensitive to special interest money influencing elected official to vote against environmental protections.  Eighty percent of voters think that campaign contributions influence how elected officials vote on environmental issues.  More voters than not (36 - 25 percent) think that contributions usually work against environmental protections.
  • Nevadans are particularly concerned about the quality and quantity of water in their dry state, and they are also concerned about toxic chemicals, the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility and clean air.
  • When deciding whether the government should protect federally owned land for environmental and recreational purposes or whether government should allow for economic development, 64 percent of Nevadans support protection while 24 percent support economic development.
METHODOLOGY

The telephone survey of 601 registered Nevada voters likely to vote in the 2000 election was commissioned by LCVEF and conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Research, Inc.  The survey was conducted between February 29 - March 5, 2000.  A random sample of this type is likely to yield a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.



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