Voters endorse state regulations on public lands, management of endangered species

by Tim Wigley, President on May 13, 2015 - 5:10am

CheckmarkWhen I arrived at the Alliance over three years ago, one of the first things I wanted to do was to get a sense of how the average American felt about domestic energy development. What did they know or not know? Did they have faith in the way we develop energy? What were their concerns and how could we address them?

I’m pleased to report that Western Energy Alliance has just completed its fourth consecutive year of public opinion research, and I want to share some of the findings.

We found Americans strongly support using resources on public lands to produce energy, with 60 percent in favor. Support increased to 64% when voters were informed that tax revenue generated from oil and natural gas development goes to essential services such as military and transportation infrastructure.

We asked about a variety of issues impacting the oil and natural gas industry, including the federal-state balance in regulating production on public lands, wildlife conservation and managing endangered species. Additional highlights from the survey include:

Federal OverreachState Role in Regulating Industry

  • A combined 77 percent support giving states complete or shared authority with the federal government in managing and regulating activities on public lands within their borders.
  • On oversight of energy development on public lands, a combined 62 percent picked state and local governments, which are flexible and adaptable to local conditions, to have prime authority. Only 34 percent preferred the federal government.

State Role in Wildlife Conservation

  • 73 percent favor state agencies to manage wildlife within their boundaries.
  • 79 percent support updating the Endangered Species Act to give state wildlife agencies more control over management and recovery of species within their states.

Americans continue to have a favorable impression of how oil and natural gas is produced in the United States. For that reason, they support boosting energy development on public lands by transferring authority to state agencies, which have a better track record of protecting the environment than federal regulators.

People trust states to make the right decisions. Voters understand that states across the West continually review and update regulations, and that is why there was such visceral reaction to recent federal fracking rules in places like Wyoming, Colorado and North Dakota.

We also have a  summary and full results of the survey available.

The polling was completed by The Tarrance Group, a Washington, D.C.-based public opinion research firm and one of the foremost research firms in the arena of natural resource development. They polled 1,000 registered voters in this national survey conducted April 12th – 16th.