The poll conducted in 11 western states found that 73% of Western voters support the responsible production of wind and solar energy on public lands. When it comes to the use of conservation dollars from solar and wind energy rents, 85% of those surveyed want to see rent payments returned to local communities to restore fish and wildlife habitat and 81% support funds going toward setting aside key areas for parks, refuges and conservation areas.
“Sportsmen walk to every corner of our public lands, they know what is going on out there, and they can sense changes in the land and in the wildlife,” said Bill Schenk, Montana sportsmen and outdoor enthusiast. “Encouraging policies and legislation that balance renewable energy development with the interests of sportsmen would be wise advice indeed.”
Pending legislation introduced in the U.S. House and Senate would direct royalty money collected from wind and solar projects developed on our federally managed public lands to habitat conservation, affected states and counties and the federal permitting process. The legislation in both houses is uniquely bi-partisan with support from a broad range of legislators and local and county officials.
“In western Colorado we’re working towards sustainability on two fronts—economically and environmentally, and that means developing wind and solar while protecting our precious natural resources,” said Dan Gibbs, a Commissioner from Summit County, Colorado and board member of the Bull Moose Sportsmen Alliance. “The lands, wildlife and quality of life that make Summit County a spectacular place to recreate and to visit are also vital to our thriving economy.”
At least six in 10 Western voters across major demographic groups strongly agree with these proposals. Support also crosses geographic and ideological lines,
- 67% of seniors
- 68% of republicans
- Support is particularly strong among Latino voters (76%)
- Support is especially strong among women voters (73%)
“Wind and solar on public lands have come a long way in a short time. But without a full set of tools, we can only go so far toward advancing responsible renewable energy development on public lands,” said Chase Huntley, clean energy policy director at The Wilderness Society. “As this poll shows, American voters want to see Congress move forward with bi-partisan legislation that will pay back local communities, wildlife and the land they all depend upon.”
The poll was conducted in August by republican pollster Bellwether Research and democratic pollster Peak Campaigns, and was commissioned by The Wilderness Society.