Floridians care about the environment.
These are the results of a statewide survey conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida last month to gauge public opinion on current policy issues in the state, including those on the environment.
Joshua Scacco and Stephen Neely distributed the survey to 600 Floridians from July 15 to July 25.
Scacco, also a professor of political communication at USF, said the results illustrated there was strong support for more aggressive action when it comes to environmental issues.
“What we’re seeing is strong support for state action to preserve environmental resources,” Scacco said.
Across a variety of environmental policy issues, Floridians of all political affiliations have expressed strong support for additional reform efforts.
More than eight in 10 Floridians (85%) — including a large majority of Republicans and Democrats — favored restrictions on agricultural fertilizer use, which would contribute to red tide outbreaks.
A majority (55%) also said more action is needed to preserve the state’s natural ecosystems, while only 24% said the state is currently doing enough.
Scacco said it’s hard to say, in terms of priorities, what the Florida legislature and governor will set for the future. But he said it shows the environment affects everyone.
“What Floridians represent in the survey is that the environment and public resources is something that affects all of us,” Scacco said. “And you see that kind of common support at all levels, through partisanship.”
Most Floridians would support additional funding to preserve ecosystems (86%) and to further protect endangered species such as panthers and Florida manatees (85%).
When asked about the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, nearly nine in 10 respondents (87%) said they strongly or somewhat approved of the law.
It was passed earlier this year and sets aside $400 million to preserve the state’s ecosystems and wildlife.
There was also a strong view on large-scale tree planting and corporate taxation to offset carbon emissions.
An overwhelming majority of respondents (89%) favored reforestation and three-quarters of respondents (76%) supported taxing businesses to reduce carbon emissions.
Scacco said one of the things he thinks is important about this survey is that it’s just a survey, a snapshot in time that reflects the particular dynamics at the moment.
“Ultimately what we see is when we explore and address specific ways to protect and preserve the environment in Florida,” Scacco said, “what we see is we find a consensus that goes beyond the traditional Republican-Democrat divide.”