New polling released today by Hispanics, Enjoying, Camping, Hunting, and Outdoors (HECHO), an organization dedicated to preserving America’s public lands and Latino Decisions highlights the value Latinos place in protecting public lands. This timely poll was conducted in Colorado and New Mexico, states experiencing a boom in oil and gas development. These two states are also characterized by their sizable Hispanic populations that have enduring ties the southwest and the lands their families have lived on for generations.
The results show that Latino voters want a better balance between conservation and oil and gas development, and think it is important for public officials to hold the oil and gas industry accountable. Some of the most compelling findings are discussed here, but see the TOPLINES HERE and PRESENTATION SLIDE DECK HERE for more details.
1. Protecting public lands: The study finds 93% of Latino voters believe that government should protect public lands for recreation and the overall well-being of the environment. This sentiment is shared across party lines, income groups, and generations.
2. A voice on public land policy decisions: The Hispanic electorate in the region overwhelmingly agrees they should have a voice in policy decisions related to public lands: 95% believe government should consult with their communities to identify lands important to their community before leasing them out for drilling. This finding highlights the deep connections to the land that Hispanic families have called home for generations.
3. Royalties should support clean up and conservation: An overwhelming 77% of Latinos polled in both states support a plan requiring oil companies to pay royalties on natural gas burned during the extraction process in order to pay for pollution mitigation efforts and to support conservation programs. Again we find support this issue transcends political orientation, age, and even income.
4. Conservation policy positions can motivate vote choices: In a hypothetical match-up, 73% of Hispanic registered voters in New Mexico and Colorado — specifically, 68% in Colorado and 72% in New Mexico — prefer a candidate who supports a requirement for oil and gas companies to prove their development efforts would not harm the environment or limit access to public lands. That’s especially significant given that 41% of Colorado and 44% of New Mexico Hispanic voters acknowledge that natural gas extraction has the potential to create jobs.
5. Latinos are actively participating in the recreation economy. In the last 12 months, 88% of Latino voters in these states purchased equipment for outdoor activities, with 54% in Colorado and 57% in New Mexico spending more than $250 over the last year.
In sum, the results highlight that partisanship does not play a role when it comes to conservation and cultural ties to public lands. Latino registered voters in these states, whether Democrats, Republicans, or Independents, clearly understand the issues around conservation and oil and gas development. Even when they acknowledge the job creation potential of natural gas extraction, huge numbers expect their government to protect public lands, and want to hold the industry accountable.
“This poll confirms that Latinos are conservationists, but the astounding level of support for common sense policies that protect our public lands and areas our families use for recreation is remarkable,” said HECHO’s Director, Rod Torrez. “These results highlight that policy makers and industry leaders must listen to our community and involve Latinos in the process of leasing our public lands so that we can achieve a more balanced approach.”
“Latino sportsmen and families who value the outdoors want their voices to be heard, and want to help shape decisions about the use of our public lands,” observed Max Trujillo, HECHO’s Deputy Director. “We hear that on the ground in these states every day, and it’s reassuring to see that this poll reflects just how strong that sentiment really is in the Latino community.”
Methodology: Latino Decisions interviewed 400 Latino registered voters from May 27 through June 10, 2014. A blended sample of landline telephones, cell phones, and the Latino Decisions online web panel was used. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish, at their discretion by fully bilingual interviewers. The poll carries a margin of error of +/-4.9%. TOPLINES HERE and PRESENTATION SLIDE DECK HERE