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Floridians Want More Aggressive Action To Address Environmental Issues, Survey Finds

Dead fish from red tide in the water
Airman 1st Class Joshua Hastings
6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
More than eight in 10 Floridians favored restrictions on the use of agricultural fertilizers, which are believed to contribute to red tide outbreaks.

A USF study showed overwhelming bipartisan support for various environmental and conservation policies,, including the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act and protecting natural habitats and endangered species.

Floridians care about the environment.

Those are the results of a statewide survey conducted by University of South Florida researchers last month to measure 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 in order to preserve environmental resources,'' Scacco said.

Across a variety of environmental policy questions, Floridians of all political affiliations expressed strong support for additional reform efforts.

More than eight in 10 Floridians (85%) — including a large majority of both Republicans and Democrats — favored restrictions on the use of agricultural fertilizers, which are believed to 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 was hard to tell, in terms of priorities, what the Florida legislature and the governor are going to lay out for the future. But he said it illustrates that the environment affects everyone.

“What Floridians are representing in the survey is that environment and public resources are something that affect all of us," Scacco said. "And you're seeing this sort of common support across the board, across partisanship.”

Most Floridians would support additional funding to preserve ecosystems (86%) and to further protect endangered species such as Florida panthers and manatees (85%).

When asked about the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act, nearly nine in 10 respondents (87%) said they either strongly or somewhat approved the act.

It was passed earlier this year and sets aside $400 million to preserve ecosystems and wildlife in the state.

There was also strong opinion on extensive tree planting and taxing corporations to offset carbon emissions.

An overwhelming majority of respondents (89%) supported reforestation and three-quarters of respondents (76%) favored taxing corporations to lessen carbon emissions.

Scacco said one of the things he thinks is important about this survey is that it is just one survey, a snapshot in time that reflects the particular dynamics at this moment.

“Ultimately, what we see is when we drill down and address specific ways in which the environment can be protected and preserved in Florida," Scacco said, "what we do find is we find some consensus that goes beyond the traditional Republican-Democrat divide.”

Christina Loizou is a WUSF Rush Family/USF Zimmerman School Digital News intern for the fall of 2021, her second semester with WUSF.