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Environment a two-sided issue for voters

5/31/2006

RALEIGH, N.C. — A vast majority of voters favors stronger
policies to protect the environment, but the issue still ranks low
on their list of priorities, according to a survey released
recently.

The survey found that 79 percent favor "stronger national
standards to protect our land, air and water," including 40
percent who strongly support the idea. But only 22 percent said
environmental issues played a major role in their recent voting.

The survey was conducted by Hart Associates and Public Opinion
Strategies for the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy
Solutions at Duke University

"There is a clear disconnect here," William K. Reilly, former
EPA head and chair of the institute's advisory board, said in a
statement accompanying the results.

The poll found several reasons for the gap between voters'
attitudes toward the environment and their actions on election
days.

It found that a majority believe environmental problems are not
as bad as they used to be; that stronger environmental standards
might bring higher taxes and hurt the economy; and that the issue
is not as urgent as jobs and health care.

Only 10 percent of voters identified the environment as one of
their top concerns, compared to 34 percent for the economy and
jobs.

The survey was released Tuesday in Washington by Tim Profeta,
director of the institute, as part of a three-day environmental
summit on the Duke campus in Durham.

The organization surveyed 800 registered voters nationwide and
conducted focus groups of voters in Columbus, Ohio, and Knoxville,
Tenn. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5
percent.