A new poll shows significant opposition to mountaintop removal coal mining in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Virginia.
Both Democratic and conservative polling firms conducted the survey, which polled about 1,300 likely voters in the four states. The results show that those polled—even Republicans and Tea Party members—support enforcing and even increasing Clean Water Act protections from mountaintop removal.
Just over half of the respondents oppose mountaintop removal, while about a quarter support the practice.
Liz Judge from environmental non-profit Earthjustice says the results should send a message to the region’s politicians.
“I think this poll is going to be an awakening for elected officials,” she said. “Because I think, for several years now, we’ve seen them in lock-step support for what we see now is an extremely highly unpopular mining practice.”
In Kentucky, a majority of respondents said they have a favorable opinion of the coal industry. But the results were more evenly split between those who favor mountaintop removal and those who oppose the practice. Bill Bissett of the Kentucky Coal Association says this isn’t bad news for the state’s coal industry.
“As far as mountaintop mining goes, or surface mining, the coal industry has more work to do,” he said. “We need to explain that this is a careful and cautious use of the land, a temporary use of the land, and I don’t think we’ve done a good job doing that.”