Charleston, WV -- West Virginia voters say that the recent chemical spill in the Elk River has been a wake-up call and that things in the state must change. According to a new poll released by the Sierra Club today, large majorities of voters demand strong safeguards and enforcement to protect the water, air, and health of West Virginia. Conducted by Hart Research Associates, the poll of over 500 West Virginia registered voters also indicates the push for public health, air, and water protection extends to the ballot box, as respondents would strongly support candidates who favor these kinds of safeguards.
“After years of outrageous industry rhetoric, it's crystal clear. In West Virginia, we want clean water and air. These poll results show once and for all that regulation is not a dirty word here," said Jim Sconyers, Chair of the West Virginia Sierra Club.
Some highlights from the poll:
· 62% of voters polled say they would be more likely to support a candidate who “favors strong regulations and enforcement to protect the water, air, and health of West Virginians.” That figure is more than double the number of voters willing to support a candidate who “says having more regulations and enforcement will only hurt jobs and West Virginia’s economy” (30%).
· Independents favor a pro-regulation candidate by a margin of 67% to 26%, while even Republicans are nearly evenly divided, at 44% to 47%.
· Significantly, two-thirds of voters (65%) polled in West Virginia also hold the coal industry responsible for general air and water contamination across the state.
· 58% of West Virginia voters polled are more likely to support a candidate who is independent of the coal industry - including Democrats (69%), Independents (59%), and Republicans (51%).
“It doesn’t matter whether you ask an independent, a Republican, or a Democrat - West Virginians want leaders who put our air, our health, and our water before the coal industry’s profits,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign and long-time resident of West Virginia. “This poll shows you can forget the conventional wisdom. Even deep in coal country, candidates who support the EPA and strong protections will win the support of voters.”
The poll finds voters strongly support a broad range of specific clean water and air regulations, with majorities favoring proposals to require more inspections (97%), higher water quality safeguards (87%) and an increased involvement by the Environmental Protection Agency in effectively enforcing regulations (67%) - with majorities often cutting across party divides.
The poll has a margin of error of 4.4. percent. For more results, see this polling memo from Hart Research Associates.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visithttp://www.sierraclub.org.