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Earth Day Poll Shows New Yorkers Concerned About The Environment

Siena College Research Institute

A new Siena College Research Institute Poll released for Earth Day shows large majorities of New Yorkers are concerned about the environment.

The survey shows a majority of New Yorkers say they are very concerned about water and air pollution, deforestation, and climate change. Poll director Don Levy:

"They overwhelmingly support a number of policy changes interesting New York State moving to zero carbon emissions in the production of electricity by 2040. They support the United States being back in the Paris Accord. They even support issues like making cities more pedestrian-friendly, and electric cars."

The poll found Democrats overwhelmingly support green policies, while a majority of Republicans think we’re doing as much as we should to protect water and air.

When it comes to Climate Change, 80 percent of African Americans sampled say they are very concerned, compared to 63 percent Latino and 46 percent white. African Americans also expressed concern about air pollution: 88 percent "very concerned" compared to 65 percent Latino and 52 percent white. The findingsdid not surprise Aaron Mair, the former National President of the Sierra Club.

"Many of the intergenerational growth in areas where people of color have been in and around or near some of the most environmentally challenging properties in places and spaces that have historically put people of color, specifically African Americans at risk. Consequently, everything from health conditions, as well as things like asthma, the epidemics that we see that plague, especially chronic disease epidemics, that plague populations, African Americans have known that this has been connected to the environment in which they live... this study pretty much confirms what other studies have long since been proving and showing, that the awareness and sophistication of the African American population regardless of economic status, is that they're astutely aware and connected with regards to the environment and its impact on human health."

Levy says just under 60 percent of New Yorkers agree that we are at the point of no return and if our government, businesses and population don’t actively address the threats to our environment, we will do irreparable damage to our planet.

"Overwhelmingly, New Yorkers say at the rate of 70 percent that they very often recycle things like paper cardboard and plastic, and they also are inclined to use reusable bags at the grocery store or elsewhere at the rate of 69 percent. Still, fewer than half of us say that we very often try to conserve water or conserve electricity."

Blair Horner is executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

"I think the Siena survey shows what New Yorkers have known now for a long time, that the state is filled with people that are concerned about the environment. And here on the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, are willing to be supportive of pro-environment policies that protect the environment and the public's health."

The poll, with a margin of error of 4.2 points, was taken in March.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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