February 20, 2020

Udall Joins Announcement of New Poll on Western Voter Attitudes on Climate Change, Conservation

Announcement unveils results of bipartisan Conservation in the West poll ahead of Udall’s keynote speech at Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project’s 2020 symposium

COLORADO SPRINGS—Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) joined a press conference call with Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D-Mont.) to announce and discuss the results of the tenth annual bipartisan Conservation in the West Poll sponsored by the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project. The results of the poll released today reveal that voters in the Mountain West, across party and demographic lines, support protections for public lands and policies that tackle the threats of climate change and environmental pollution head-on. 

The poll, which surveyed the views of voters in eight Mountain West states (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming), found that public lands and the outdoor way of life continue to be of deep importance to Western voters. The poll results show 74 percent want their representatives in Congress to develop comprehensive plans to tackle carbon emissions and climate change. In addition, 67 percent of voters consider habitat conservation a priority for their elected officials over oil and gas drilling and mining. Over half of all voters—52 percent —say that microplastics in in rivers, streams and drinking water supplies are serious problems affecting public lands and public health. Conservation issues were also deemed important by many of the most critical “swing” voter sub-groups in the West, including Latinos, millennials, sportsmen, moderates, and suburban women.

“Policy-makers in Washington have our marching orders: public support for conservation and climate action is stronger than ever,” Udall said. “A movement is growing from the ground up, with Westerners of all political stripes clamoring for action to save our way of life, starting with a national conservation goal of protecting 30 percent of our natural land by 2030 to stave off a looming extinction crisis. Elected officials ignore the will of Western voters not just at the peril of the planet—but also at the peril of their own political futures.”

The press conference call comes ahead of Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project’s 2020 symposium highlighting the 10th annual release of the Conservation in the West poll. Udall will give a keynote address at the symposium calling for a bold conservation vision to address the dual crises of climate change and habitat loss that threaten future generations in the West.  

The full text of Udall’s remarks is below:

Thank you all for joining us. I’m so happy to be in Colorado for this exciting event, and to be here with my friend Governor Bullock.

Here’s the bottom line. Conservation is wildly popular. Acting on climate -- wildly popular.

We have our marching orders. The only question is whether national policy makers listen to the people – or listen to the special interests who want to sell our lands and environment off to the highest bidder.

Results from the 10th Conservation in the West Poll are in. The poll shows that Westerners of all political stripes:

- Believe climate change is a top problem and support moving to 100 percent renewable energy;
- Support protecting wildlife and habitat, and oppose reducing Endangered Species Act protections;
- Support protecting public lands over more drilling and mining;
- Oppose removing Clean Water Act protections from western streams and rivers;

And here’s a result I’m really excited about: almost three quarters of voters favor a national goal to protect 30 percent of the land and ocean by 2030. Our Thirty by Thirty campaign has wide public support.

Yet -- the current administration has taken a hatchet to our nation’s proud conservation legacy. It has the worst environmental record in history. And it’s completely out of touch with today’s West and what Westerners want.

But as I’ll say tonight: the climate and nature crises that are facing us started before the president took office. And they’ll continue getting worse after he leaves unless we act.

The people of the West are speaking loud and clear—it’s time for us to listen on a bipartisan basis.

So we need to write a new playbook to take on the challenges that the West – and the rest of the nation and world – face.

We must come at climate change with everything we have to get to a carbon free economy as soon as we can.

And we must confront the nature crisis head-on. We’re in the middle of a sixth mass extinction – this one human-caused. We must  save 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.

Here’s the good news: this poll shows, unequivocally, that the people of the West are behind that kind of action. And the conservation movement is as strong as it’s ever been.

People are energized – especially young people, as you see right here at Colorado College.

This is the work before us.  We have no time to waste.  We are reaching a tipping point beyond which there is no return.

But with the energy of this movement, we can get this done – and save the planet for future generations.

The people of the West are watching us.