Environmentalists See Poll as Proof of Public Support Federation to Fight Gop `Contract'

Article excerpt

When the smoke cleared after the November election, commentators pronounced the environmental movement dead or too disorganized to fight off efforts in Congress next year to block new pollution regulations.

But a new poll released Tuesday reports that support for environmental protection remains solid among Democrats and Republicans alike, especially when it comes to safe drinking water and keeping pesticides out of food.

The poll, sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, concludes that issues other than the environment - among them crime, the economy and general change - were predominant in the minds of voters on Election Day, said federation president Jay Hair.

"Whatever Americans were voting for on Nov. 8, it was not for rolling back 25 years of environmental protection or natural resource conservation," Hair said at a news conference.

The poll was portrayed as the first evidence that public opposition may be looming for proposals in the Republican House members "Contract with America." The contract spells out protections to landowners from environmental rules, limits spending for new regulations and requires new studies by the government before issuing new rules.

The poll was done this month by Peter Hart Research Associates. It surveyed 1,200 registered voters, divided roughly equally between Republicans and Democrats. Hart said the poll had an error margin of plus or minus 3.2 percent. Among its results:

76 percent said they favored stronger safe drinking water laws. …