Coloradans favor clean energy, federal regulations and national parks

A bipartisan poll from Colorado College debunks stereotypes about Coloradans’ attitudes toward federal land and energy production.

It’s easy to get caught up in the old stereotype of Colorado voters as Old West libertarians wanting to wrest the rule of law from Uncle Sam. But Colorado’s antigovernment mentality is more myth than reality when it comes to oil and gas, coal mining and federal regulations and control of land.

A new poll from Colorado College surveying Western voters shows most Coloradans actually support federally controlled national forests, parks and monuments and think they help the state’s economy. Residents want to see a boost in solar and wind energy and tax incentives to nudge these programs along.

Only 11 percent hope drilling and mining continues at the current pace without additional safeguards, while 55 percent approve of the current rate if companies put more safety regulations in place.

Just 9 percent want to see more drilling and mining — a stark contrast to claims from so-called “grassroots”-backed big coal and oil ads that suggest Coloradans want a coal, oil and gas boom.

Some 53 percent of Coloradans want to see the number of coal mines approved on federal land gradually cut; 62 percent want to boost the royalty fees oil and gas companies have to pay to drill on federal land; and 81 percent like President Obama’s rule that oil and gas companies should use updated technology to prevent methane leaking.

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Colorado College’s bipartisan poll was conducted by Republican and Democratic pollsters and featured 400 registered Colorado voters and 400 from each of the following states: Colorado, Arizona, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

“These results make clear Western communities care deeply about the public lands that embody the best of our nation’s culture, spirit and beauty,” former U.S. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar said in a written statement. “Western voters see our outdoor heritage as integral to our economy and our way of life, and they certainly don’t want to see their public lands seized by ideologues or sold off by politicians in Washington.”


Correction 1/14/15: This story originally stated that Colorado State College of the Rockies released this poll. It was actually released by Colorado College.

Photo credit: Photo credit: Tim Hurst, Creative Commons, Flickr