CRONKITE NEWS

Number of Arizonans who see climate change as ‘serious problem’ jumps

Feb 1, 2019, 4:35 AM | Updated: 4:46 pm

(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)...

(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

WASHINGTON – The number of Arizonans who believe climate change is a “serious problem” has grown sharply in the past three years, according to an annual survey of Western-state voters’ opinions on environmental issues.

That was just one finding of the Conservation in the West Poll released Thursday by Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project. It also claimed that voters in eight states are worried about water and climate issues, disappointed in recent federal rollback of environmental protections and even willing to pay more taxes for conservation.

The survey, the ninth annual, said 73 percent of Arizona voters claim to be worried about climate change in 2019, up from 63 percent in 2016. That was higher than the 69 percent in the eight-state region who said they see climate change as a serious problem in 2019.

“Concern about climate change is rising pretty dramatically,” said Dave Metz, president of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates, one of two firms that did the poll. “While it remains an issue where there are partisan distinctions … there have been increases across the board.”

The poll was conducted by Metz’s firm, which typically works with Democrats, and by New Bridge Strategy, which usually works with Republicans.

New Bridge Strategy’s Lori Weigel agreed with Metz that while climate change “often provokes a partisan response” that was reflected among Democrats, Republicans and independents in the poll, concern over the issue rose in every group.

“We have also seen an 8-point increase among Republicans and voters who are unaffiliated or independent,” when it comes to climate-change concerns, she said.

The telephone poll of 3,200 voters was conducted from Jan. 2-9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.65 percent for the overall survey. The margin of error rose to plus or minus 4.9 percent for results in each state: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Among the findings the survey said 65 percent of voters believe protection of public lands is more important than using them for energy production of natural resources, and 75 percent see the rollback of environmental laws as a serious problem.

Specifically, two-thirds disagreed with the reduction of national monuments, like the Trump administration’s to reduce Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, and 60 percent looked poorly on the reversal of the Waters of the U.S. rule, an Obama-era regulation that had greatly increased waterways subject to federal oversight.

Arizona members of the Congressional Western Caucus, which believes in mineral development on federal land and wants to reduce the amount of public lands in federal hands, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the poll’s findings.

But an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which advocates for market-based solutions to environmental problems, defended the rollback of some regulations. Jonathan Wood said there are “many reforms that would result in better management of public lands and advance the conservation and recreation interests on these lands” through a market approach.

“For instance, federal regulations currently prohibit or discourage conservation groups from bidding for grazing or drilling rights on federal lands, with the intention of conserving those lands rather than using them,” Wood said in an email. “This regulation has led to unnecessary acrimony and frustrated market-based conservation.”

While he said voters should be concerned about climate change, Wood also questioned the survey’s finding that more than two-thirds think it is a serious problem. He pointed out that of the four possible answers respondents could choose for that question, three were varying degrees of serious, from “somewhat” to “extremely,” and only one was “not at all.”

Other findings were less surprising for voters in Western states. The poll said they were highly concerned about falling levels of water availability and rising numbers of wildfires. It said 36 percent of respondents thought changes in the climate were the biggest factor in wildfires, and 30 percent blamed drought.

It also said that 68 percent of voters – 64 percent in Arizona – would be willing to pay higher taxes to fund conservation efforts, with almost all respondents citing forest management and protection of waterways as top conservation priorities.

“There is a growing anxiety about a lack of resources for conservation,” Metz said. “Perhaps that’s why voters are supportive of raising additional revenue at the local level.”

While climate concerns were rising, the poll also found that the number of Arizonans who identify as “conservationists” fell 10 percentage points from last year.

Robert Fanger, a spokesman for the Hispanic Access Foundation, said Latinos’ views are in line with all of the findings of the survey and that they “overwhelmingly disagree with the actions and policies of the current administration’s energy-dominant agenda.”

Fanger, who was on the conference call for the release of the poll, called on policymakers pay attention to its findings.

“We just hope that those in Washington and in state government are paying attention,” he said. “We should not have to ask our elected officials to listen to their constituents.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Cronkite News

President Joe Biden gives a speech at the Tempe Arts Center in September 2023. (File photo by Kevin...

Benjamin Adelberg/Cronkite News

Biden’s Arizona firewall starts to crack as oldest Democratic delegate in the state calls for him to quit presidential race

Numerous representatives from Arizona have called for Joe Biden to quit reelection efforts, with some hoping for a Harris-Buttigieg ticket.

6 days ago

Abortion rights and anti-abortion protesters are separated by barriers at the Supreme Court in Wash...

Alex Cunningham/Cronkite News

Abortion ballot measure in Arizona could drive turnout as Biden campaigns on reproductive rights

Democrats are banking on abortion as their saving grace in Arizona, where President Joe Biden currently lags Donald Trump in their rematch.

12 days ago

Sen. Jake Hoffman, R-Queen Creek, talks about a bill in January 2024. (File photo by Harris Hicks/C...

Grey Gartin and Keetra Bippus/Cronkite News

3 indicted in fake electors scheme among Arizona delegates to RNC

Three of the Arizona Republicans indicted as “fake electors” for their roles in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election will serve as delegates at the Republican National Convention in July.

18 days ago

Daniel Holguin, left, and Maria Castillo, right, sit for their haircuts at the Glendale Community C...

David Ulloa Jr./Cronkite News

ClipDart recreates barbershop, salon experience for Glendale older adults

ClipDart responds to the disparity of students of color and vulnerable populations being able to access affordable, quality hair services.

1 month ago

Mark-Taylor’s EVR Spur Cross build-to-rent community is in Queen Creek....

Vanessa Pimentel/Cronkite News

Build-to-rent communities surge in Phoenix amid high home interest rates

High mortgage interest rates are pushing prospective homebuyers to consider build-to-rent communities instead.

2 months ago

Rattlesnake Ready trainer Cody Will plays a recording of rattlesnakes for Arlo, a German shepherd, ...

Analisa Valdez/Cronkite News

Cave Creek business trains dogs to avoid rattlesnakes in summer months

Rattlesnake season in Arizona is ramping up and while that means watching out for snakes – it can mean watching out for your pets, too.

3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

Number of Arizonans who see climate change as ‘serious problem’ jumps