In an article in todays NY Times, the Pew Research Center reports that environmental issues came in last among 20 voter concerns. Most lkely my colleague Skaida Smith-Hesters will have a lot more to say about this. But a few important points: A new poll suggests that Americans, preoccupied with the economy, are less worried about rising global temperatures than they were a year ago but remain concerned with solving the nation’s energy problems. The findings are somewhat at odds with President Obama, who has put a high priority on staving off global warming and vowed Tuesday in his Inaugural Address to “roll back the specter of a warming planet.” In the poll, released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, global warming came in last among 20 voter concerns; it trailed issues like addressing moral decline and decreasing the influence of lobbyists. Only 30 percent of the voters deemed global warming to be “a top priority,” compared with 35 percent in 2008. In contrast, dealing with the nation’s energy problems ranked sixth in the poll Ã¢â?¬â?? just behind education and social security Ã¢â?¬â?? with 60 percent of voters endorsing it as a top priority. As we go into looking at funding the next highway bill, it is important to recognize the public’s priorities.
Shirley Ybarra is a former senior transportation policy analyst at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.