NATIONWIDE SURVEY: Sportsmen Say Nation's Energy Policy "Is on the Wrong Track"

The majority of America's sportsmen say global warming is an urgent problem that needs immediate action, and they want clean energy solutions that create jobs and cut pollution from burning fossil fuels, a national poll of hunters and anglers reveals

05-23-2006 // Christine Dorsey

WASHINGTON, DC -- The majority of America's sportsmen say global warming is an urgent problem that needs immediate action, and they want clean energy solutions that create jobs and cut pollution from burning fossil fuels, a national poll of hunters and anglers reveals.

"America's sportsmen are saying we have a moral responsibility to confront global warming to protect our children's future," said Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation.

This first-ever comprehensive nationwide survey of licensed hunters and anglers about their attitudes on global warming reveals that a majority of sportsmen are witnessing the effects of global warming and believe immediate action is necessary to address it.

According to the survey, more than three-quarters of America's hunters and anglers (76 percent) agree that global warming is occurring, and the same percentage said they have observed changes in climate conditions where they live, such as warmer, shorter winters, hotter summers, earlier spring and less snow. More than half (54 percent) said they believe these changes are related to global warming. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) believe it either is currently impacting or will impact hunting or fishing conditions.

Nationwide, approximately one out of every five voters is a sportsman. The survey shows that in 2004 they voted by about a 2-to-1 margin, at least, for President Bush over Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and that they identify themselves overwhelmingly as moderate to conservative in their political outlook. Half of those surveyed identified themselves as evangelical Christians.

""We are reaching a tipping point in this country where the vital sportsmen's constituency is adding its voice to those who recognize global warming is occurring, that it poses serious threats and that action must be taken to address it,"" Schweiger said.

The survey also reveals that sportsmen are deeply dissatisfied with the nation's current energy policy and support a major shift to depend less on fossil fuels that produce global warming pollution while developing a new generation of alternative and renewable energy sources.

Eighty-one percent of the sportsmen polled agree with President Bush's State of the Union assertion that nation is addicted to oil. Yet an even greater number, 86 percent say the administration and Congress are not doing enough to break that addiction.

Overall, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of sportsmen say the nation is on the wrong track in meeting its energy needs.

An overwhelming majority of 78 percent say conserving more, developing fuel efficient vehicles and expanding the use of renewable sources are the best way to address America's energy needs, rather than drilling for more oil and gas within the United States (supported by 15 percent).

The National Wildlife Federation commissioned Responsive Management of Harrisonburg, Virginia, to conduct the non-partisan survey. From late March through April 2006, 1,031 hunters and anglers were polled, chosen from state lists of individuals holding hunting and fishing licenses. The proportion of hunters and anglers was designed to correspond to the most recent (2001) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.05 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

More than 40 million Americans hunt and fish, generating some $70 billion in annual expenditures from their sports. The membership of the National Wildlife Federation and its 47 state and territorial affiliates includes nearly 750,000 hunters and anglers.

Nationally, the profile of the average hunter or angler surveyed is male, middle-aged, living in small-town or rural America. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) consider themselves either moderate or conservative in political ideology. Two years ago they voted for President Bush by nearly a 2-to-1 margin (53 percent Bush, 29 percent Kerry and an unusually high 16 percent who declined to answer). Half of those polled (50 percent) consider themselves evangelical Christians.

According to the survey:

  • Eighty percent of sportsmen believe the United States should be a world leader in addressing global warming.
  • Eighty-six percent of hunters and anglers agree that the federal government should provide incentives for industries to replace some energy from oil, gas and coal with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power;
  • Eighty-four percent support federal incentives for companies that develop new energy efficient technologies that reduce global warming;
  • Eighty-seven percent support federal incentives that make energy conservation technologies more affordable for citizens;
  • Only 15 percent think drilling for more oil and gas in the U.S., including on public lands, is the best way to address America's energy needs.

"Sportsmen are clearly under whelmed by Washington's lack of leadership," Schweiger said. "They expect more from their elected leaders and are indicating that this lack of leadership may not go unnoticed when they exercise their right to vote."

According to the survey:

  • Approximately two-thirds (64 percent) said they would favor a candidate who supports strong laws and immediate action to address global warming. Less than a third (28 percent) said a candidate who only supports voluntary efforts and research would gain their support.
  • Three-quarters (75 percent) agree that Congress should "pass legislation that sets a clear national goal for reducing global warming pollution with mandatory timelines because industry has already had enough time to clean up voluntarily."
  • Seventy percent strongly support funding to boost research and development of clean energy technologies. About two-thirds (64 percent) strongly support assistance to farmers and other landowners who conserve soil and plant trees for reforestation.

The National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

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Immediate Release: May 23, 2006

Contacts: Christine Dorsey - 802-229-0650 (office) or 703-470-6689 (cell), dorsey@nwf.org

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