Is Public Support for Environmental Protection Decreasing? an Analysis of U.S. and New Jersey Data

By Greenberg, Michael R. | Environmental Health Perspectives, February 2004 | Go to article overview

Is Public Support for Environmental Protection Decreasing? an Analysis of U.S. and New Jersey Data


Greenberg, Michael R., Environmental Health Perspectives


Telephone surveys made of 800-1,000 randomly selected residents of the United States and New Jersey in 2003 show a sharp decline in support for antipollution regulations, although pollution remains a major concern. This drop in support is associated with slowing of the economy, fear of terrorism, and other competing priorities. The leading proponents of maintaining strong environmental regulations are relatively affluent mainstream white Americans. Despite this recent drop in support, overt attempts to weaken the basic regulations are likely to face stiff opposition unless there is an obvious economic downturn or increasing terrorism that causes a larger proportion of the public to feel that weakening environmental regulations will increase jobs and security. Key words: age, environmental laws and regulations, perception, polls, public support, race/ethnicity, trends.

**********

The first Earth Day was celebrated on 22 April 1970; this event arguably marked the beginning of U.S. society's call for more control of pollution through laws and environmental science (Mowrey and Redmond 1993). A lot has happened in the United States since 1970, especially since 2001. The unprecedented economic growth of the middle and late 1990s slowed in early 2001, and terrorist attacks occurred in September 2001. Health care costs have continued to rise much more rapidly than other costs, and other domestic problems, such as drug addiction, are ongoing concerns. We should anticipate some shift away from worrying about the environment to more immediate issues of jobs, national security, drug abuse, and how to pay for health care. But how much of a shift in priorities has occurred? Is the public still willing to support the legal and administrative structures that reduced emissions and improved environmental quality? Also, who continues to support the laws that are at the core of U.S. environmental policy? Who does not?

In this article, I use national and New Jersey polling data to answer these questions, and I comment on the significance of the observations for environmental health policy and practice. The Gallup Organization (Princeton, NJ) provided summaries of many of their national surveys and performed some special tabulations for me. The Gallup polls I used were from 1984 through 2003. Some of the more intricate statistical analyses were performed with data from New Jersey using SPSS, version 8 software (SPSS, Chicago, IL). The Star-Ledger/Eagleton Poll (New Brunswick, NJ), which has been collecting data similar to Gallup's since 1977, shared their raw data (Eagleton Poll Archive 2003). All the polls collected from 800 to 1,000 samples using random-digit telephone surveys that followed standard public opinion polling protocols.

The focus on New Jersey is important because, with regard to environmental programs and trends, I consider New Jersey to be a sentinel for the rest of the United States. Along with California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Oregon, New Jersey's environmental programs have been considered among the strongest in the United States (Conservation Foundation 1984; Duerksen 1983; Greenberg et al. 1991; Pendergrass 2001). Several factors have contributed to New Jersey's interest in environmental programs; for example, a) the state is the most the most affluent and the most urbanized in the United States, so people cannot easily move away from pollution; b) New Jersey has a history of high cancer mortality rates; and c) the legacy of smokestack industries located along its urban-industrial spine have led to many Superfund sites and great concern about hazardous waste management (Greenberg et al. 1991; Mason et al. 1975). Collectively, these factors combine to make New Jersey a place where we would expect strong support for environmental protection.

Yet, New Jersey's economy is changing. The vast majority of the smokestack industries have closed, replaced by white collar information- and technology-driven businesses (Hughes and Seneca 2000).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Is Public Support for Environmental Protection Decreasing? an Analysis of U.S. and New Jersey Data
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.