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Voters 65 and older are a growing force when it comes to concerns about the environment

Kayaking at Badwater Basin on February 9, 2024.
Michael Kohler
A kayaker glides across Badwater Basin in Death Valley in February 2024. Environmental concerns are increasingly top of mind for older voters, according to a new report from a nonpartisan environmental group.

“Gray is the new Green” shows voters 65 and older are the second largest group concerned about climate after 18-34 year-olds.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Environmental Voter Project authored the report, which surveyed 11,000 eligible voters in 18 states. In the West, Colorado and New Mexico stand out: Concern about the environment for the 65-plus group in these states is about equal to the younger group.

In Colorado, 25.1 percent of voters that are 65 and older say climate is a top priority, while 33.7 percent of voters between 18 and 34 say it's their top priority. In New Mexico, 34.9 percent of older voters say climate is a priority, compared to 37.6 percent of voters aged 18-34.

Spokesperson Nathaniel Stinnett said the report also found people of color are disproportionately concerned about the environment.

“People of color and poorer people are much more likely to experience the impact of today’s environmental crisis firsthand,” said Stinnett.

Stinnett says a consistent response from older voters was concern about their “legacy.”

“Many of them want to be good grandparents and ultimately, they want to be good ancestors," he said. "They’re starting to think about the type of world they’re leaving for the next generations.”

Stinnett said there are more organizations led by older climate activists like Elders Climate Action and Third Act. And there’s more collaboration between younger and 65 plus activists.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Yvette Fernandez is the regional reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau. She joined Nevada Public Radio in September 2021.

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