An Argument Against Helping the Environment

The government can work to improve the economy or it might spend money to improve the environment. Probably, the money for both will not be found. As deficits drop — part of Washington’s effort to improve the national economy — other big challenges could go unaddressed. And many people do not mind the trade-off, at least insofar as matters that include protecting the environment are concerned.

A new Gallup poll shows:

For the fifth consecutive year, more Americans are interested in protecting economic growth than in protecting the environment when the two goals are at odds. This year’s 48% to 43% split represents a relatively narrow advantage for the economy, similar to last year’s reading.

Gallup researchers point to the recession, and halting recovery, as reasons that economic concerns remain so high.

If most scientists are correct, the trade-off could be devastating. America ranks second among nations, based on emissions of greenhouse gases, behind only China. The EPA reports that the major culprits are coal-fired plants and pollution from oil and gas exploration. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) reviewed the information and issued a warning:

This new data will provide Americans with important information about the climate-disrupting pollution that’s being emitted by large industrial sources in our communities. This vital new information is a call to action for America to work together in deploying innovative solutions to address the carbon pollution from power plants and methane from oil and gas development activities.

“Call to action” means little action has been taken by the federal government. And there is nothing of substance in how the government plans to spend its money as it battles deficits to help attack these problems. Without tremendous voter pressure, that will not change.


Methodology: Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 7 to 10, 2013, with a random sample of 1,022 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.