California is home to some of the most hotly contested congressional elections in the country, where results in November — and who controls the House — will be decided by the smallest of margins. But red, blue, or independent, there’s one thing voters overwhelmingly agree on: the need to elect lawmakers who will reject the politics of pollution and act to protect our precious public lands and coastline.
In fact, the California League of Conservation Voters' (CLCV) recent poll examines Californians’ attitudes toward environmental issues, and the results are overwhelming. At a time of daily attacks by the President, voters across the political spectrum want their Members of Congress to step up and defend our environment. Local residents want iconic places like the San Gabriel Mountains, San Onofre State Beach, and the majestic Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks protected for generations to come.
Here are a few figures to illustrate this extraordinary consensus: we polled voters in four districts: CA-4, Rep. Tom McClintock’s district in the Sierra Nevada; and three districts in Southern California: CA-25 (Steve Knight), CA-45 (Mimi Walters), and CA-48 (Dana Rohrabacher). Over 82 percent of voters in all four congressional districts share that it is important that their Member of Congress protect public lands, coastlines, and clean air and water. In each district, more than 72 percent of Republicans and more than 75 percent of independent voters agree with this perspective.
We also asked about voters’ views on the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a national program that funds national and local parks, trails and beach projects. LWCF has helped protect places throughout these congressional districts, from the iconic Huntington Beach in Rohrabacher’s district to the magnificent Lake Tahoe in McClintock’s district.
At least two-thirds of respondents in each district called on their representative to champion legislation to re-authorize and provide long-term funding for the wildly popular program. No taxpayer funds go toward LWCF, but taxpayers reap tremendous benefits from our local parks and open spaces.
Once again, independent voters say the same, with 60 percent of respondents agreeing that their representative should support LWCF. That number jumps to 74 percent of independent voters in CA-25, where Rep. Steve Knight is California’s only Republican co-sponsor of legislation to re-authorize LWCF.
Despite the program’s overwhelming popularity, LWCF expired on September 30. These poll results are a clear signal to Members of Congress, both in these districts and across California, that their constituents expect them to re-authorize and fully fund LWCF without delay.
We also posed questions about the relationship between outdoor recreation and California’s economy, and about offshore drilling along the coast. We found that the majority of folks think protecting access to our public lands and coastline is more important to our economic future than increasing offshore drilling and logging and mining on our public lands. These results show that Californians understand the enormous benefit of outdoor access to our booming economy.
Research from the Outdoor Industry Association shows that outdoor recreation generates $92 billion in consumer spending in California, a huge contributor to the nation’s $887 billion outdoor economy. Unsurprisingly, a majority of respondents, including independents, in Southern California also say that protecting our beaches and ocean is more important than increasing offshore oil drilling.
Californians, regardless of political affiliation, have made it clear that they want stronger protections for our precious lands and waters. Members of Congress would be wise to stand up for their constituents by championing LWCF, fighting back against proposals to drill off our coast, and defending our public lands against exploitative attacks.
But to date, these Members of Congress instead of defending our environment have joined the attacks. In fact, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) gives them an abysmally low average lifetime environmental score of 5 percent. If this is what their constituents want, why aren’t they delivering? Who are they really working for?
From our pristine shorelines to our unparalleled national parks and monuments, California’s idenatity is indelibly linked to our extraordinary protected areas. This new poll shows that Californians stand united in calling for their protection, and expect their leaders to do the same.
Click here to urge your member of Congress to act to save LWCF funding today!