New survey: Voters strongly support protecting air, water & lands


Seventy-seven percent of Utahns want to increase state funding to protect water, improve air quality, protect natural lands, and promote clean energy.  

And 70 percent of them are also willing to pitch in themselves—as much as $40 per year to protect Utah’s quality of life.  These results have just been released from a statewide survey of voters conducted by FM3 Research and sponsored by The Nature Conservancy.

Concerns about air quality and water sources are top of mind, with results showing that 68 percent of Utahns are very concerned about public health problems caused by air pollution, 65 percent are concerned about water supplies and 70 percent are very worried about the lack of snow in Utah’s mountains.

“We’re seeing that many more Utahns from diverse backgrounds agree on the need to do more today to improve and protect the natural resources we rely on,” said Dave Livermore, Utah State Director for The Nature Conservancy. “We cannot allow Utah to be defined in the future by poor air, water challenges and the loss of valuable lands.”

Issues Rated as “Extremely” or “Very Serious” Problems by a Majority


Problem Facing Utah


The cost of healthcare


Lack of snow in our mountains


Public health problems from air pollution and smog


The quality of public education and schools


Threats to current and future water supplies


A lack of accountability in government


Increasing drought and prolonged heat in the summer


Pollution of rivers, lakes and streams


The risk of bigger and more damaging wildfires



People living in the Beehive State are also increasingly concerned about the impacts of Utah’s rapid growth on their communities. Fifty five percent say their communities are “growing too fast and we need to plan better for some growth.”

At the same time, voters give the Utah State Legislature declining marks for its work protecting the state’s natural resources.  In similar polling conducted in 2003, a plurality of Utahns rated the Legislature “excellent” or “good” on its work to protect natural resources in the state. Now a plurality (42 percent) gives the Legislature “only fair” or “poor” marks, with fewer than one-quarter (23%) rating their work on the issue as “excellent” or “good.”

“It’s time we did more,” says Representative Stephen Handy (R–Layton). “Our collective wealth as a state is increasing, and we need to look to the future. Compared to the other western states, Utah is behind when it comes to providing meaningful state funding for waterways and critical lands.” 

Representative Handy and Representative Sue Duckworth (D–Magna) have both submitted funding requests, totaling $1,000,000 to the Utah Legislature this session for the LeRay McAllister Critical Land Conservation Fund.  This Fund provides grants to local governments, state agencies and non-profit organizations to conserve or restore Utah’s most critical agricultural and wildlife lands.

“These days, it’s refreshing to find some common ground,” said Chris Robinson, a member of the Summit County Council and CEO of Ensign Ranches. “Clearly this poll shows that better air, clean water and viable natural lands are not partisan issues. We all recognize that we owe it to ourselves and to future generations to safeguard what makes our state so unique.”

From Feb. 2 to 11, 2018, FM3 conducted 715 online and live telephone interviews with a representative sample of voters in Utah who participated in the 2016 general election or have registered to vote since then. Phone interviews included landline and cell calls. The margin of sampling error for the study is +/-3.7% at the 95% confidence interval.