Montana ranchers back poll findings that favor clean energy over old, dirty energy – April 25, 2012

April 25, 2012

Categories: Agriculture, CBM, Clean Energy, Clean Water, Coal, Fossil Fuels, Member news, News, Northern Plains Resource Council

Civil Society Institute website

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 Water quality all-important in Montana

By Northern Plains Resource Council

BILLINGS, Mont. — For farmers and ranchers in Montana and the rest of the United States, clean water is the lifeblood of their livelihood.

In a March 2012 nationwide poll, eight out of 10 Americans agree that “water shortages and the availability of clean drinking water are real concerns. America should put the emphasis on first developing new energy sources that require less water and result in lower water pollution. Only 15 percent of Americans think that “America should proceed first with developing energy sources even if they may have significant water pollution and water shortage downsides.”

ORC International did the study for the Civil Society Institute and Northern Plains Resource Council, which was released during a national teleconference at 11:30 a.m. today.

“We are constantly told we have to sacrifice good water in order to develop more fossil fuels,” said Terry Punt, Birney rancher and member of Northern Plains Resource Council. “The verdict of this new survey is clear: Most Americans understand that sacrificing water is too high a price for dirty energy.”

Also important to Montanans and which the pollsters asked was about hydraulic fracturing, a process used in drilling for hard-to-reach natural gas that uses toxic chemicals and can damage underground water supplies. Nearly six in 10 Americans (56 percent) are now aware of  “fracking.”  Fewer than three in 10 Americans (28 percent) are “not aware at all” of this extraction process. Eight out of 10 Americans (81 percent) who are aware of fracking say that they are concerned – including nearly half (47 percent) who are “very concerned” – about the impact of fracking on water quality.

“Our ranch is leased for grazing and absolutely would not function without clean water. I am concerned about what gas development could do to the water,” said Cindy Webber, Big Timber rancher and member of Cottonwood Resource Council. “We need to protect our ranch from toxic pollution.”

“Educating the public is a priority for our organization – the Cottonwood Resource Council in Sweet Grass County. We realize that citizens cannot make informed choices without more transparency from the fossil fuels industry. Legislation and enforcement that protects our water quality and quantity is essential for all aspects of ours and our children’s lives.”

Pam Solo, founder and president, Civil Society Institute, said: “Our new survey is a clarion call to action:  Americans think that it is time for  decisive action toward a renewable energy future that will protect public health and provide reliable and cost effective energy.   It is only through the work of groups like Northern Plains Resource Council that this ‘bottom up’ process of change will take place.   And it is only through such a grassroots-driven process that we can shake off the partisan gridlock of Washington, D.C., so that Americans can focus on what is really important to them:  a clean energy future that does not sacrifice our water, air and health to politically powerful nuclear and fossil fuel interests.”

According to the poll, Republicans, Independents and Democrats all agree the United States should move away from its reliance on dirty energy sources that foul the air and water and toward a future that makes greater use of clean energy sources.

Besides clean water, the new ORC International survey of 1,019 Americans conducted March 22-25, 2012, shows that:

  • More than eight out of 10 Americans (83 percent) – including 69 percent of Republicans, 84 percent of Independents, and 95 percent of Democrats — agree with the following statement:   ‘The time is now for a new, grassroots-driven politics to realize a renewable energy future.  Congress is debating large public investments in energy and we need to take action to ensure that our taxpayer dollars support renewable energy– one that protects public health, promotes energy independence and the economic well being of all Americans.”
  • Even with high gasoline prices today, 85 percent of Americans – including 76 percent of Republicans,  87 percent of Independents, and   91 percent of Democrats —  agree with the statement “Energy development should be balanced with health and environmental concerns” versus just 13 percent who think “health and environmental concerns should not block energy development.”
  • More than two out of three (68 percent) think it is “a bad idea for the nation to ‘put on hold’ progress towards cleaner energy sources during the current economic difficulty.”
  • Two thirds of Americans (67 percent) think that “political leaders should help to steer the U.S. to greater use of cleaner energy sources – such as increased efficiency, wind and solar – that result in fewer environmental and health damages.”   Under a third of Americans (30 percent) think that “political leaders should stay out of the energy markets and let private enterprise have a free hand in picking energy sources and setting prices.”
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