The Wilderness Society: Poll of Western Voters Shows Strong Support for Congressional Effort to Invest in Conservation

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Revenue collected from renewable energy projects could aid fish and wildlife habitat across the West

Poll after poll continues to show that westerners value conservation of our shared public lands, said Chase Huntley, Senior Director for Government Relations at The Wilderness Society.

With Congress returning to Washington this week, a new poll shows strong support for taking action on legislation that would reinvest a portion of rents and royalties from renewable energy development on public lands to conservation activities. The poll, conducted in 11 western states, reinforces the strong public pressure from sportsmen, counties, conservationists and others to move the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R. 596/S. 279) forward for a vote this fall.

The poll conducted over the summer recess by the public opinion firm Peak Campaigns found that:

  •      More than two-thirds (69%) of western voters support renewable energy development on public lands that does not harm wildlife and avoids wild places;
  •      More than three out of four (78%) western voters support returning a portion of funds collected from development to land and wildlife conservation; and
  •      When it comes to the use of conservation dollars, 85% would like to see it used to restore fish and wildlife habitat, and 82% want to see funds go towards improving access points to park, refuges and conservation areas for outdoor recreation.

“Poll after poll continues to show that westerners value conservation of our shared public lands,” said Chase Huntley, Senior Director for Government Relations at The Wilderness Society. “Now Congress has the power to act on a bill that could bring together both sides of the aisle to move clean energy and generate investments that matter for hunters, anglers, hikers, bikers, county officials and conservationists. The Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act is a balanced way to enhance the health of our public lands and local communities while advancing renewable energy.”

The bi-partisan Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R. 596/S. 279) was introduced in February 2013. Among other things, the bill would take the fees already charged for commercial wind and solar generation on our public lands and reinvest them in states, counties, future permitting activities and conservation.

It has received support from a broad range of stakeholders including the Western Governors Association, the National Association of Counties, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, clean energy advocates and a diverse set of sporting groups. It was heard in the Senate Energy Committee and the House Natural Resources committee on July 29, but is in danger missing out on passage because the committees have not scheduled a markup or vote on the bill before the end of the session.

Additional Resources
Polling data- state by state
TWS’ blog on the poll
Pollster Memo

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The Wilderness Society is the leading public lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, TWS has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. http://www.wilderness.org

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Jennifer Dickson

Chase Huntley, Senior Director for Government Relations
The Wilderness Society,
(202) 429-7431
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