Green over green

Most Americans say environment is more important than economic growth

Most Americans say environmental protection should be given priority—even over economic growth—but the division across party lines on the issue is great, a Gallup poll finds.

The survey, conducted in early March, revealed that Americans favor environmental protection over economic growth by a margin of 50 percent to 41 percent. In the 30 years since Gallup started asking the question, Americans have almost always favored environmental protection; for instance, in 1990 and 1991, the split was 71 percent to 19 percent. But since 2009—in the middle of the economic downturn—Americans began prioritizing economic growth over the environment, except for immediately after BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in May 2010.

Democrats and Republicans are deeply divided: About two-thirds of Democrats say the environment should be a greater priority, while only a third of Republicans favor prioritizing protections.