Mississippians support Gulf restoration

they support funding to restore the environmental health of the Gulf, according to a new poll released by a coalition of conservation, business and fishing groups dedicated to restoring the Gulf Coast. The poll was funded by The Walton Family Foundation.

The poll is timely because while the U.S. House of Representatives has passed an oil-spill response bill that directs funding to Gulf Coast restoration, the Senate, even with the elections fast approaching, has yet to act on oil-spill response legislation.

The poll by Democratic polling firm Lake Research Partners and GOP polling firm Bellwether Research and Consulting found that – regardless of political affiliation – voters across the Gulf region have a deep commitment to restoration and see it as key to the economic health of the region. In fact, majorities of Independents (67 percent), Democrats (82 percent) and Republicans (67 percent) said they are more likely to support federal legislators who will make new investments in restoration.

“This new polling confirms what common sense already told us. Voters overwhelmingly believe restoring the Gulf environment will also strengthen the region’s economy, and make it more resilient when facing future storms or manmade disasters,” said Scott Burns, director of The Walton Family Foundation’s Environment and Conservation Program. “This is a clear message that restoration in the Gulf region is a high priority.”

Across the Gulf region, more than two out of three voters (68 percent) recognize that degradation to the Gulf Coast as a result of man‑made activities had occurred even before the recent oil spill, and more than three out of four voters (77 percent) believe it is important for the federal government to take steps to restore the health of the Gulf region, making this a strong voting issue in the upcoming elections.

“This poll shows Gulf Coast senators that restoring the environmental health of the Gulf’s wetlands, marine and coastal areas is both good public policy and good politics,” said Paul Harrison, senior director for the Mississippi River at the Environmental Defense Fund. “Gulf Coast voters recognize that it is critical to their economic future, especially for the region’s huge fishing and tourism industries.”

The telephone survey of 2,061 voters from all five Gulf region states (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas) was conducted between September 7 and September 13, 2007. Over 400 of these voters were from Mississippi.