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 October 12, 2009
Are Economic Growth and Environmental Protection Compatible?

 GLOBE-Net - With Congress considering climate change legislation that many say will have a major impact on the U.S. economy, voters for the first time this year are almost evenly divided when asked if there is a conflict between economic growth and environmental protection.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that while 38% believe there is a such a conflict, 36% believe the environment can be protected without hurting the nation’s economic growth. Twenty-six percent (26%) aren’t sure.

In January, 46% said there was a conflict between the two, and just 32% disagreed. The margin between the two remained roughly the same until last month when the gap narrowed to three points.

A plurality (49%) of Republicans say there is a conflict between economic growth and environmental protection. Democrats are narrowly divided on the question. Voters not affiliated with either party by a 10-point margin see no conflict between the two.

But then 29% of adults say their fellow Americans are being selfish for putting economic concerns ahead of the fight against global warming. Forty-seven percent (47%) reject that view and disagree.

Fifty-five percent (55%) of voters say finding new sources of energy is more important than reducing the amount of energy Americans now consume. Thirty-seven percent (37%) rate energy conservation as the priority, the highest such finding since January.

Sixty percent (60%) say global warming is a serious problem, with 38% who view it as very serious. Thirty-six percent (36%) say global warming is not very or not at all serious. These numbers have been largely the same since the first of the year.

Forty-six percent (46%) say global warming is caused primarily by long-term planetary trends, while 38% put the blame more on human activity. These findings continue a shift since the first of the year toward blaming planetary trends. Three percent (3%) think there is some other reason for global warming, and 12% are not sure.

Democrats are far more likely that GOP voters and unaffiliateds to describe global warming as a very serious problem. While 51% of Democrats say human activity is the primary cause of global warming, 59% of Republicans and 51% of unaffiliated voters point the finger at long-term planetary trends.

This partisan difference helps explain why 54% of all voters say President Obama believes global warming is caused primarily by human activity.

Forty-four percent (44%) say the president is doing a good or excellent job on energy issues. Thirty-five percent (35%) rate his performance in this area as poor.

There has been little movement on any of the energy numbers regarding the president since he took office in January. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for today shows that 32% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of Obama’s overall performance as president. Forty percent (40%) Strongly Disapprove, giving him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -8.

Most voters (54%) continue to say more nuclear power plants should be built in the United States. Twenty-six percent (26%) oppose the construction of more nuclear plants, and 20% are not sure.

Since its passage by the House in late June, little has been heard about the historic climate change bill aimed at curbing global warming. But the Senate is starting to take up the measure. In late August, 35% of Americans favored the climate change bill, while 40% were opposed to it. The antis felt more strongly: Twenty-six percent (26%) Strongly Opposed the bill versus 10% who Strongly Favored it.

In the same survey, 65% of Americans said creating jobs is more important than taking steps to stop global warming. Only 22% put curbing global warming as more important.

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For More Information: Rasmussen Reports