Feb 16, 2024 - News

Poll: Utahns want more progressive environmental policy

Serious problems for residents of western U.S. states
Data: Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Conservation in the West Poll; Note: States surveyed are Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming; Chart: Axios Visuals

Utahns are increasingly protective of the environment, with a recent poll showing a large majority say the issue could sway their votes.

Why it matters: Utah's results in the 14th annual Conservation in the West poll directly oppose many of the policies favored by the state's elected officials.

Of note: The poll surveyed voters in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

By the numbers: Of the eight states included, Utah had the highest rate of respondents who said environmental issues were at least somewhat important to their vote, at 87.6%.

  • It also had the lowest share of voters who said the environment was "not too important" or "not at all important."

The intrigue: Utah respondents departed from the state's predominantly Republican leadership on two issues in particular: federal land protections and prioritizing conservation over energy development.

Zoom in: 83.7% supported "creating new national parks, national monuments, national wildlife refuges and tribal protected areas to protect historic sites or areas for outdoor recreation."

  • Just 13% voiced opposition — the smallest share of any state surveyed, except Nevada.

The other side: Utah is suing to halt presidential use of the Antiquities Act to create large national monuments.

  • State officials last week pulled out of a land swap that would have traded state-owned land within Bears Ears National Monument for federal lands elsewhere in Utah, complaining that the Biden administration's management plan was too restrictive.

Meanwhile, 69.5% of Utahns polled said they preferred the state's congressional delegation to emphasize conservation over "ensuring we produce more domestic energy by maximizing the amount of national public lands available for responsible oil and gas drilling and mining."

  • That's a 7.4% increase since 2020's poll — the sharpest jump in the survey.

Of note: Air quality was Utah's standout environmental concern, surpassing water resources or climate change.

  • 76.8% described air quality as a "very" or "extremely" serious problem, far more than Colorado — the second-most-concerned state, at 56.7%.

Worth your time: Axios Denver reporter, John Frank, provides an analysis of the poll's regional results, released Wednesday.

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