For far too long, our environment took a back seat to progress and commerce. It wasn’t until recent years that we as a nation came to our senses and realized we were damaging our own home — making a serious mess in our front and back yards.
A robust and healthy environment is important to our own well being and health, not to mention its vital implications for the economy and tourism.
It is encouraging, then, to see a new poll of North Carolina voters that seems to offer a warning to state lawmakers and the new governor as they pursue policies they say will create more jobs: Don’t run roughshod over the environment while doing it.
In the new survey, 70 percent of those polled said protecting the state’s environment is at least as important as economic development.
And many of those voters — nearly 40 percent — said Gov.-Elect Pat McCrory’s track record on protecting the environment will be very important when they again cast ballots for governor in 2016.
The N.C. Coastal Federation commissioned the telephone poll, which was conducted Dec. 11-12 by Public Policy Polling in Raleigh. It surveyed 500 voters who cast ballots in this year’s gubernatorial election, which McCrory, a Republican, won handily over Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, a Democrat.
“The poll clearly indicates that many voters want the environment to be well managed,” said Todd Miller, executive director of the Federation. “Only 26 percent of people who voted for Pat McCrory in the last election said that the governor’s future track record on protecting the environment would not be important to them.”
More than two-thirds of those who voted for Dalton and more than half of the McCrory voters think environmental protection is equally as important as economic development.
Nearly 60 percent of Dalton voters said McCrory’s record over the next four years for protecting the environment will be very important when they decide who to vote for in 2016. Only a quarter of McCrory voters felt that way. Forty-four percent of those voters, however, said McCrory’s record will be “somewhat” important.
A desire to protect the environment seems to cross party lines. Seventy-seven percent of registered Democrats, 69 percent of independents and 61 percent of Republicans said environmental protection is at least as important as economic development. In this age of bipartisan bickering on an Olympic scale, that is also encouraging news.
Miller said the poll is a reminder that voters in our state want their political leaders to safeguard the environment. “We look forward to working with the new governor as he tackles environmental challenges and opportunities,” Miller said. “We will applaud his accomplishments, and work hard to draw attention to environmental management decisions that are good, bad and ugly.”
Bottom line: The environment is vitally important — it’s where we live and breathe — and it ought to be a consideration when we visit the voting booth.