Conventional wisdom suggests that people who live in coal mining regions support coal mines and oppose environmental regulation of mining but a new poll conducted for Appalachian Mountain Advocates, an environmental ngo based in Lewisburg, West Virginia, suggests that people who live in Appalachia may have a better understanding of environment and economy linkages than such simplistic wisdom suggests.
The opinion poll, commissioned by the ngo but conducted by independent pollsters, indicates that voters in Appalachia oppose mountaintop removal coal mining by a wide margin. Over three quarters support strong enforcement of environmental regulations. Even among Tea Party supporters, 67% oppose mountaintop removal mining. According to the poll, 60% of Appalachia voters believe that environmental regulations are either good for the economy or have no economic impact. Fully 75% of West Virginia voters want Clean Water Act protection of lakes, rivers and streams increased. West Virginia is the second largest coal producing state in the US, after Wyoming. According to an article in Mining Engineering journal in 2007, some 30% of the coal mined in West Virginia comes from mountaintop removal mines.
GallonDaily believes that this poll is a fairly accurate representation of public opinion on a range of environmental issues. Conservatives are often strong supporters of conservation initiatives. Despite the economic situation, initiatives for a greener economy are likely to be important election and business issues in both Canada and the United States in the next few years.
Details on the Appalachian Mountain Advocates poll are available at http://www.appalmad.org/?page_id=307