Oregon News

Era of rampant inflation still cannot diminish Oregonians desire to protect the environment, survey shows

By MICHAEL KOHN
Oregon Capital Bureau

Rampant inflation over the past year may be hitting pocketbooks hard, but most Oregonians still support rules and regulations that protect the environment over those that prioritize economic development.

That’s according to a recent poll conducted by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, a Portland-based nonpartisan group that surveys Oregonians on a range of economic, environmental and social issues.

In a March-April survey, the center found that more than two-thirds of respondents prioritized environmental protection over economic development and job growth.

The survey indicates that even in the face of tough economic times, and when jobs are on the line, Oregonians remain steadfast advocates for the environment.

Among the two-thirds majority, 41% of respondents said they would “strongly” prioritize environmental protections while 27% said they would “lean” toward environmental protections. On the other side, just 14% “strongly” lean toward economic development while 19% “lean” toward economic development, the survey found.

The center surveyed 2,514 Oregon residents aged 18 and over. It has a margin of error of 1.95%.

Despite increasing financial stress and strain, the economy vs. environment question was similar to results from a similar question asked in December 2021.

At that time, Oregonians who responded to the survey were twice as likely to cite “climate change and the environment” than “support/improve the economy” as the most important issue they would like Oregon’s leaders to do something about.

In the March-April survey, a second environment-related issue asked if Oregon’s Legislature should give the governor the power to override Oregon’s existing land use laws to allow semiconductor factories on farm and forest lands.

Just more than half of respondents, 56%, said “no” to this question, 13% said “yes” and a quarter of respondents said they did not know enough about the issue to offer an opinion.

The pollster noted in comments that the significant proportion of “don’t know” responses highlights the need for more public education on this matter. It also noted that support is highest among men, whereas opposition is high among rural Oregonians and those ages 65-74.

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