Western U.S.Voters: Jobs and Environmental Stewardship Compatible

Mar 9, 2011

A bipartisan sample of voters in the Rocky Mountain West shows support for laws that limit carbon emissions, protect local resources, and foster renewable energy.

The study was commissioned by Colorado College's State of the Rockies Project and surveyed 2,200 people.

Most Western voters rank air and water pollution as the most important environmental issues facing the region. Eighty-seven percent of them said that "having clean water, clean air, natural areas, and wildlife' is either "extremely" or "very" important to quality of life.

Researchers asked a series of questions about Westerners' values related to the environment and how conservation efforts connect with local economies. The study revealed that 77 percent of voters in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah and Montana believe that it's possible to "protect land and water and have a strong economy with good jobs at the same time, without having to choose one over the other."

Two-thirds similarly believe that increased use of renewable energy--namely solar and wind--could result in more jobs in their states.

"Conservation, energy independence and robust job creation are compatible values that may have started here in the west, but they're becoming main stream." said Michael Seifert, president of Ecotech Institute, a Denver college that prepares students for careers in renewable energy, sustainable design, and energy efficiency. "We're preparing men and women with the job skills for new markets—green industries that nobody had heard of five years ago—as well as conventional sectors that are retooling in a sustainable model to meet market demand."