Rural Westerners Support Environmental Protections Just As Much As Elsewhere

Jul 22, 2020

Dubois, Wyoming.
Credit Micha de Vries

A new study finds that rural westerners care about the environment just as much as people in cities.

Researchers at the University of Wyoming surveyed U.S. voters about their opinions on environmental protections. UW professor Drew Bennett said that, in the west, people in rural areas find protecting the environment just as important as people in urban areas.

But Bennett said there was one difference.

"I think oftentimes we think there's an urban-rural divide, and while we do see that divide, that divide is not really about the importance of the environment," said Bennett. "It's really about the approaches that we take to protecting it."

Bennet said rural voters are much more likely to disapprove of federal regulations on the environment.

"I think there's a recognition or a perception that local government, state government has a better sense of the context and the situation on these issues and that there's a perception that the federal government has taken a one size fits all approach," said Bennett.

By showing the hesitations about policy that rural westerners have, Bennett said the study can help governing bodies understand what regulations would have the most support.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu.