By Kara Headley
A recent poll revealed that environmental health is more important to Michigan residents than economic gain.
The Healthy People-Healthy Planet Poll surveyed 1,000 Michigan residents about issues relating to their state, the environment, the economy and governmental policy. Sixty-seven percent rated environmental protection as more important than economic gain.
“There are a lot of environmental issues in the state,” said Daniel Bergan, the study’s lead author. “Michigan voters are in tune to environmental issues. They see the natural beauty of the state, which inclines people to protect the coastline and the Great Lakes.”
The poll was conducted by the Health and Risk Communication Center at Michigan State University. It sought to identify Michigan residents’ attitudes towards climate change to explore how the subject and its risks can be better communicated.
Issues surrounding the Great Lakes were especially important to those surveyed. Forty-six percent said Line 5—a major oil pipeline that passes under the Straits of Mackinac—should be removed and 35 percent said it should be encased in a tunnel. Only 19 percent of residents believe nothing should be done to Line 5.
Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed support government limits on fertilizer use to decrease algae blooms in the Great Lakes.
The poll found that those who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election were less likely to have concerns about the environment. Forty-one percent of those who voted for Trump said the environment should be a priority, while 90 percent of those who voted for Hillary Clinton answered this way.
“Although Michigan went to Trump, if residents were to trade off what is more important, people chose environmental protection over making jobs,” Bergan said. “People tend not to have a consistent right or left ideology. Voters tend to have a mix of attitude about things, which is why someone who supports Trump can still support the environment.”
Read more about the poll here.