Last updated on April 21, 2014 at 4:51 EDT

National Poll: Vast Majority Supports Federal Investment to Protect America’s Energy Coast Ecosystem

August 29, 2011

Public wants common-sense approaches to reducing carbon emissions

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A new national poll shows 91% of Americans believe the Gulf Coast is vital to the nation’s economy and domestic energy security and the U.S. should invest additional funds in restoring the area.

Protecting the Gulf Coast area that supplies energy to the country should be the responsibility of the federal government, according to 90 percent of respondents, with only 10% saying it is not a federal responsibility.

The poll also showed that 78% of respondents support using wetlands to capture and store carbon dioxide, similar to how forests are used to reduce carbon in the air. In contrast, only 22% feel climate change is not really a significant problem and do not support capturing carbon for this purpose, regardless of the impact on restoring the ecosystem.

Most Americans surveyed believe the federal government should be responsible for restoring and maintaining the environmental health of the Mississippi River, which each year dumps nutrients into the river that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, creating a dead zone that threatens marine life. In 2010, the dead zone covered an area the size of New Jersey.

Poll respondents were divided over national perceptions of the Mississippi River. When asked if they believe most Americans understand that the Mississippi River system, from headwaters to the river’s mouth, is vulnerable, 50% said “yes” and 50% said “no.”

A clear majority – 73% – said it is reasonable to expect we can drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and protect the Gulf Coast environment, with 30% saying it is “definitely possible” and 43% saying “probably possible.”

In addition, 97% of respondents supported regional collaboration and felt the 31 states in the Mississippi River watershed should establish cooperative policies and methods to ensure the entire river system is healthy in terms of water quality and supply.

The America’s WETLAND Foundation commissioned the scientific poll of 1,132 respondents conducted August 10-14 by The Kitchens Group, a Florida-based national market research firm. It has a margin of error of 2.9%. The poll focuses on issues critical to sustaining the Gulf Coast region and the health of the Mississippi River.

Pollster Jim Kitchens was surprised by some findings. “Seven out of 10 believe you can drill and protect the environment, that you can have both. They don’t see it as an “either-or” choice. Another surprise is that 90 percent of the respondents see restoring and protecting the Gulf Coast to be a responsibility of the Federal government. That is astonishing in this era of worrying about the Federal deficit.”

America’s WETLAND Foundation managing director Valsin A. Marmillion said the poll shows bi-partisan support for Gulf Coast restoration. “Our hope is that all interests will utilize these findings to seek cooperative solutions to challenges that the American public views as critical to the region and nation’s healthy economic and environmental future,” said Marmillion.

The poll results run counter to those who say there is public fatigue with coastal restoration as a national issue, as it shows extremely strong support for protecting the eroding Gulf Coast, Marmillion said.

Among the poll’s other key findings:

  • 84% believe it is the responsibility of the federal government to restore and maintain the environmental health of the Mississippi River, with 16% disagreeing.
  • 51% “strongly agreed” and 40% “somewhat agreed” that the Gulf Coast is vital to the nation’s economy and domestic energy security and we should invest additional funds to help restore the area, while 6% “somewhat disagreed” and 3% “strongly disagreed.”

Complete poll results are available on the Foundation’s redesigned web site at www.americaswetland.com.

The America’s WETLAND Foundation manages the largest, most comprehensive public education campaign in Louisiana’s history, raising public awareness of the impact of Louisiana’s wetland loss on the state, nation and world. The America’s Energy Coast initiative works to sustain the environmental and economic assets of the Gulf Coast region. The initiative is supported by a growing coalition of world, national and state conservation and environmental organizations and has drawn private support from businesses that see wetlands protection as a key to economic growth. For more information, please visit www.futureofthegulfcoast.org or www.americaswetland.com.

SOURCE America’s WETLAND Foundation

Source: PR Newswire