Environment Makes a Comeback (Except Among Republicans)

Public concern about the environment has made a sharp upward turn in the weeks since the Gulf spill, according to new polling data from Gallup. In surveys asking Americans which is more important, energy production or the environment, the preference has flipped in just two months.

When Gallup asked in March, 50 percent said energy should take precedence over the environment, while 43 percent said environment should be more important. With millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf—the consequence of policies that prioritize development over conservation—the numbers have shifted. Now 55 percent say the environment is most important, compared to 39 percent who favor energy production. Environment was trending downward over the past two years until this incident.

This isn’t true, however, for Republicans. The split on the question remains unchanged even in the wake of the disaster—62 percent favor energy development and 30 percent picked the environment.

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.