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SURVEY: Appalachian Voters Overwhelmingly Oppose Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

16 Aug 2011  |   Emma Brown

Tags: Clean Water, General Environment

Voters in the Appalachian states of Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee overwhelmingly oppose mountaintop removal coal mining practices and support strong clean water standards, a poll released by the Appalachian Mountain Advocates, Earthjustice and the Sierra Club on Monday found.

The poll, which was conducted by by Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research & Consulting, surveyed 1,315 registered voters and found that support for strong clean water standards spanned across party lines in Appalachia. The study found:

  • A majority of voters in the four states oppose mountaintop removal: 57% of voters oppose mountaintop removal (42% of which strongly oppose) compared to only 20% who support the practice. Only 10% of voters in the four states strongly support it.
  • Bipartisan support for strong clean air and water protections: 75% of Republican voters and 68% of Tea Party voters support not just protecting already existing standards, but support increasing Clean Water Act protections to combat the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining.
  • Mountaintop removal is a key election issue in the four states: Voters polled said they are likely to reward politicians who support strong water protections, while punishing those who act to weaken current environmental protections.
  • Voters reject the myth that environmental protections are bad for the economy: 60% of voters believe that environmental protections are good for the economy (40%) or have no economic impact (20%). Only 25% of voters believe environmental protections have negative economic consequences.

"The survey data turns conventional wisdom on its head,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Associates. “Not only does it show Appalachian voters opposing mountaintop removal and by wide margins, it also underscores that voters in these states are now treating this as a voting issue, and promise to punish elected officials who weaken clean water and environmental regulations on mountaintop removal."

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