Almost 30% of Californians name air pollution as the state's biggest environmental problem — far more than any other — and another 10% say the top environmental issue is global warming, which is related to air pollution. Furthermore, a significant plurality say the state government should do something about it, which suggests that there might be political tolerance for air pollution regulation
Those were among the findings in the Public Policy Institute of California's annual survey of Californians and the environment, which was released recently.
The survey did not ask many direct land use questions, but it did detect a political atmosphere in which the state's residents support additional regulation. About half of Californians say the state is not doing enough to protect the environment, while 67% say the federal government is doing an inadequate job on the environment.
The PPIC survey almost always locates inconsistencies. To wit: While 40% of Californians rank air pollution or global warming as the state's biggest environmental issue, and two-thirds say something should be done immediately to counteract global warming, 66% of Californians — and 72% of likely voters — drive alone to work.
Who carpools, rides public transit or finds alternative means of commuting? Poor people. Nearly half of people who make less than $40,000 a year do something besides drive alone to work.
The PPIC survey also usually locates cluelessness. Thus, while Californians say they are concerned about air quality and global warming, about 70% admit they don't know enough about their regional air quality district to approve or disapprove of the district's activities.
Among other findings of interest:
• Blacks and Latinos are about twice as likely as whites and Asians to see air pollution as a serious health threat;
• 60% of Republicans say immediate action is necessary on global warming;
• 60% of Republicans favor more oil drilling off the coast;
• Likely voters are evenly divided on whether more nuclear power plants should be built.
The PPIC survey is available at http://www.ppic.org/main/publication.asp?i=760