Want More Government Action on Environment, Climate Change Protection

WEST LONG BRANCH – Eight in 10 residents of Mid-Atlantic states believe the ocean and beaches are important to their economies, including 95% of those living in coastal communities. Eighty-three percent of residents living in coastal communities believe that climate change is real — 13 percentage points higher than a national survey taken by Monmouth University in 2015. Support for offshore oil and gas drilling plummeted from 46% in 2009 to 22% now among residents living closest to the coast.

These are some of the findings from a pair of survey reports released today by the Monmouth University Polling Institute (MUPI) and Urban Coast Institute (UCI). The surveys present the first region-wide snapshot of public opinion on ocean issues since the 2016 elections and offer a glimpse at how views have changed since major storms like Sandy and Irene impacted the Mid-Atlantic coast.

Mid-Atlantic Residents See Ocean Health as Major Economic Issue

A region-wide survey gauges the opinion of a wide range of coastal issues and elements of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan. Residents in the survey are from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The plan was adopted in December of 2016. That’s by the six states, federal agencies, tribal entities, and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. A second survey was conducted specifically with year-round residents of Mid-Atlantic coastal communities. It includes the same questions regarding ocean issues as a 2009 MUPI-UCI poll. Moreover, it’s to track how opinions have changed over time among those living closest to the coast.

“The responses show that Mid-Atlantic residents see support for a healthy ocean as support for a healthy economy,” UCI Director Tony MacDonald said. “They are broadly opposed to any actions they perceive as threats to the ocean and support government initiatives that would protect and improve it.”

Mid-Atlantic Regionwide Survey

The following are some of the findings of the regionwide survey from residents of the six Mid-Atlantic states:

Mid-Atlantic Coastal Community Residents Survey

Below are some key findings from the survey of residents who live in the Mid-Atlantic region’s coastal communities:

“Sandy clearly changed how coastal residents view the threats of climate change and sea level rise,” MacDonald said. “There is a much firmer acceptance of the warnings coming from the scientific community along with an expectation that government should be doing more about it.”

The regionwide survey was conducted from Aug. 3 to 16 with 1,512 adult residents and had a ±2.5% margin of error. The Mid-Atlantic coastal survey was conducted from April 26 to May 31. It includes 1,005 permanent residents of coastal communities and has a ±3.1% margin of error.

Final reports for the statewide and coastal surveys are available at www.monmouth.edu/uci. The survey was made possible through grant support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

About the Urban Coast Institute

The Urban Coast Institute (UCI) was established in 2005 as one of Monmouth University’s “Centers of Distinction.” The UCI’s mission is to serve Monmouth University and the public interest. Most importantly, in a forum for research, education, and collaboration in the development and implementation of science-based policies and programs. Moreover, those that support the stewardship of healthy, productive, and resilient coastal ecosystems and communities. Visit www.monmouth.edu/uci for more information.