New Poll Shows Vast Majority of Louisiana Voters Concerned About Coastal Land Loss, Climate Change
Half of respondents say climate change is affecting them today and overwhelming number support coastal restoration efforts
(NEW ORLEANS – Aug. 14, 2019) Louisiana’s fall elections will be particularly crucial for the future leadership of the state, deciding numerous seats in the Legislature, the governorship, as well as other statewide and parish offices. Ahead of these elections, a poll was released today showing that Louisiana voters are deeply concerned about the state’s coastal land loss crisis and support coastal restoration efforts to address it. The poll, conducted by BDPC, LLC + Pinsonat, shows that 98 percent of voters say officials should work to maintain as much of Louisiana’s coast as possible, even if it’s not possible to restore the original footprint; and 97 percent want their elected officials to prioritize tackling coastal land loss when in office.
Voters are largely in agreement about how the state tackles its land loss crisis with 92 percent supporting an approach that balances restoration of coastal wetlands with protection efforts, such as levees. On restoration specifically, 82 percent of respondents support sediment diversions, large-scale coastal restoration projects that would deliver sediment from the Mississippi River to build and sustain wetlands over time. Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is advancing the Mid-Barataria and Mid-Breton Sediment Diversions, projects that will build and maintain tens of thousands of acres of land and habitat on either side of the river in Plaquemines Parish.
Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost nearly 2,000 square miles of its coastal land and, without the implementation of projects from the state’s Coastal Master Plan, could lose an additional 4,000 square miles in the next 50 years. Most respondents indicated that protection from storm surge was the most important reason to restore Louisiana’s coast, and 97 percent of those surveyed said they want their elected officials to make decisions on coastal issues based on the best available science.
“As our coast disappears and the State of Louisiana fully commits to confronting this crisis, voters are in widespread agreement that addressing coastal land loss must be a top priority for anyone who seeks elected office in this state,” said Steve Cochran, Campaign Director for Restore the Mississippi River Delta.
On how to pay for coastal restoration projects, respondents were nearly unanimous with 97 percent saying elected officials must protect existing funds dedicated to coastal restoration and protection in Louisiana, and 96 percent wanting their elected officials to identify new sources of funding for coastal restoration. Also of note, 63 percent of respondents indicated they would support paying a state tax if they knew funds from that tax would go directly to coastal restoration and protection across Louisiana.
The poll also found that a vast majority of voters (71 percent) believe in climate change with half of respondents indicating that climate change is affecting them today and 72 percent saying it will impact future generations. On Louisiana’s land loss crisis, 57 percent of respondents across the state believe land loss will have a direct impact on them this year with that number jumping to 77 percent in the next 10 years.
“In a state that has had emergency flood disasters declared in every parish at least twice over the last 20 years, it is no surprise that Louisianians see and are concerned about the impacts from a changing climate and a disappearing coast,” said Cochran. “The stakes could not be higher as decisions made in the coming years will not only determine what kind of Louisiana we leave our children and grandchildren but where that future will be.”
The poll was conducted by BDPC, LLC + Pinsonat for Environmental Defense Fund on behalf of Restore the Mississippi River Delta to determine the familiarity, interest and support for major coastal issues facing Louisiana. According to Bernie Pinsonat, political consultant at BDPC LLC + Pinsonat, “These numbers are unlike any I have ever seen in Louisiana. Coastal land loss is the most important issue on the minds of Louisiana voters. The issue has significant, bipartisan support from all corners of the state. These results are a clear signal that voters want their elected officials, from the Governor to their legislators to parish presidents, to tackle this crisis head on.”
Interviews for this poll were completed by trained live operators over the phone with 1,006 likely Louisiana voters from July 23 through July 29, 2019. Results were analyzed to ensure consistency in responses. The overall sample error for the statewide statistics is not greater than plus or minus 3.0 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacques Hebert, Environmental Defense Fund, 504.264.6849, email@example.com
Emily Falgoust, National Audubon Society, 337.853.0233, firstname.lastname@example.org
James Karst, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, email@example.com
John Lopez, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, 504.421.7348, firstname.lastname@example.org
About Restore the Mississippi River Delta:
Restore the Mississippi River Delta is working to protect people, wildlife and jobs by reconnecting the river with its wetlands. As our region faces the crisis of threatening land loss, we offer science-based solutions through a comprehensive approach to restoration. Composed of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, we are located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and around the United States. Learn more at MississippiRiverDelta.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
About BDPC LLC + Pinsonat:
BDPC: Greg Rigamer is the owner and CEO of BDPC, LLC. Mr. Rigamer has forty years of professional experience as a management consultant serving corporate and governmental interests. He is also widely recognized for his work as a demographer and political consultant. His research and analytical reports have been quoted extensively in both local and national press and he is recognized as an expert in demographic and community affairs by the United States Federal Court. Mr. Rigamer received a Bachelor of Arts from Louisiana State University in Philosophy and a Master of Science in Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans. He was the recipient of the 2007 University of New Orleans’ Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Bernie Pinsonat, formerly a partner in the highly successful research firm Southern Media & Opinions Research, continues conducting surveys under the name Bernie R Pinsonat, Inc. His partner, Lawrence McKenzie, retired in 2017. In 1978, Bernie Pinsonat and his partner, Lawrence McKenzie, started the research firm Southern Media & Opinion Research, Inc. SMOR became one of the most successful survey firms in Louisiana. SMOR conducted surveys for fortune five hundred companies, Louisiana Companies, media organization and hundreds of political clients. Bernie Pinsonat became one of the most recognizable names in politics as he was called upon by national and Louisiana news organizations for his insights and perspective of current political events. Pinsonat is known throughout Louisiana and in national media circles as the “go to” interview during both political campaigns and weighty public policy discussions. In Louisiana, he has appeared on most television and radio stations as one of the most recognized news sources in Louisiana. He is often quoted in the Times Picayune, The Advocate and most newspapers throughout Louisiana.