CVV News-Posted: July 28, 2022
Amid an ongoing drought, nearly seven in ten Californians say the water supply is a big problem in their part of the state. More than half of Californians say higher gas prices have been a financial hardship, but a strong majority is opposed to oil drilling off the California coast. More than seven in ten say alternative energy sources should be prioritized over fossil fuels in the nation’s energy supply; unlike a year ago, views on this question are split along party lines. These are among the key findings of a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California.
(Note: As a companion to the new survey, PPIC is publishing a blog post by president and CEO Mark Baldassare, “Anxious California Voters Will Weigh In on Climate Policy this Fall.”
Sixty-eight percent of Californians say the water supply is a big problem in their part of the state. This share is up slightly from a year ago (63%), has increased 30 points since July 2020 (38% to 68%), and is near the record high of 70% (September 2015). The share of residents saying water supply is a big problem varies across regions (76% Inland Empire, 70% Los Angeles, 66% San Francisco Bay Area, 65% Central Valley, 64% Orange/San Diego.)
Thirty percent of Californians name water supply and drought as the most important environmental issue facing the state. Wildfires (13%) and climate change (11%) are the only other top issues named by double-digit shares.
“Californians name water supply and drought, followed by wildfires and climate change, as the most important environmental issue facing the state,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO. “Nearly seven in ten say that the supply of water is a big problem in their part of California.”
The new statewide survey also finds:
- More than half say higher gas prices have caused financial hardship, though a majority remain opposed to offshore drilling. Partisans are now divided on prioritizing alternative energy. Fifty-five percent say that higher gas prices are causing them financial hardship, including 18 percent saying a severe hardship. An overwhelming majority (79%) of those with an annual household income of less than $40,000 say gas price increases have caused financial hardship (63% income $40,000 to $79,999, 37% income $80,000 or more). More than four in ten (44%) are upset about the current rate of inflation, including at least four in ten across regions, while a majority of California adults (53%) say they are concerned but not upset. When it comes to the nation’s energy supply, an overwhelming majority of Californians (74%) say developing alternative energy sources—such as wind, solar, and hydrogen—should be prioritized over expanding exploration and production of oil, coal, and natural gas. Views are split along party lines (91% Democrats, 70% independents, 39% Republicans). In July 2021, majorities across partisan groups wanted to prioritize alternative energy (93% Democrats, 78% independents, 56% Republicans).“Forty-four percent of Californians are upset about the current rate of inflation, and 55 percent say that recent gas price increases have caused them financial hardship,” Baldassare said. “Overwhelming majorities favor the development of alternative energy sources over fossil fuels, though views now fall along partisan lines. ”Fifty-eight percent of Californians say the condition of oceans and beaches is very important for the state’s future economy and quality of life. This includes majorities across regions (69% Inland Empire, 58% Los Angeles, 55% Central Valley, 55% San Francisco Bay Area, 54% Orange/San Diego). Asked about allowing more oil drilling off the California coast, a strong majority (67%) is opposed, with opposition varying across partisan groups (83% Democrats, 66% independents, 31% Republicans).“Nearly six in ten Californians say the condition of oceans and beaches is very important to the economy and quality of life for California’s future,” Baldassare said. “A strong majority is opposed to allowing more oil drilling off the California coast.”
- An overwhelming majority say climate change has contributed to the state’s recent wildfires. Slightly less than half of Californians (45%) believe the threat of wildfires is a big problem in their part of the state. This includes 52 percent in the Inland Empire, 45 percent in the San Francisco Bay Area, 44 percent in Orange/San Diego, 42 percent in the Central Valley, and 41 percent in Los Angeles. More than three in four Californians (76%) think climate change has contributed to the state’s recent wildfires. “Forty-five percent of Californians say that the threat of wildfires is a big problem in their part of California,” Baldassare said. “Seventy-six percent perceive that climate change has contributed to California’s recent wildfires.”
- A strong majority say the effects of climate change have begun, and majorities favor most key state policies on climate change—though support is divided along party lines. More than two-thirds (69%) believe the effects of climate change have already begun, and an overwhelming majority say that climate change is a very serious (47%) or somewhat serious (33%) threat to California’s future economy and quality of life. Support for key state climate change policies ranges from nearly half to more than seven in ten: 72 percent favor a state law requiring California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030; 72 percent approve of a state law requiring all California’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2045; 59 percent favor Governor Newsom’s plan to ban new fracking permits starting in 2024; and 48 percent approve of Newsom’s executive order banning the sale of new gas vehicles by 2035. Democrats are far more likely than independents or Republicans to express support for each of these policies. “Sixty-nine percent of Californians say the effects of climate change have begun,” Baldassare said. “Eight in ten say that climate change is a very or somewhat serious threat to the economy and quality of life for California’s future. Support for climate change policies is divided along party lines.”
- A majority of Californians approve of Governor Newsom’s handling of environmental issues. With a gubernatorial election coming up in November, an overwhelming majority of likely voters say that candidates’ positions on environmental issues are either very important (45%) or somewhat important (42%) in determining their vote. Fifty-nine percent of both adults and likely voters approve of how Governor Newsom is handling environmental issues in California. “Nearly nine in ten likely voters say candidates’ positions on the environment are important, and 45% say they are very important, in voting for governor in 2022.” Baldassare said. “Nearly six in ten approve of Governor Newsom’s handling of environmental issues.”
About the Survey
The Californians and the Environment survey is supported with funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation.
The findings presented above are based on responses from 1,648 California adult residents. The sampling error is ±3.4 percent for the total unweighted sample and ±4.1 percent for the 1,132 likely voters. Interviewing took place from July 8–15, 2022. For more information, please see the methodology section in the full survey report.
Mark Baldassare is president and CEO of PPIC, where he holds the Arjay and Frances Fearing Miller Chair in Public Policy. He is founder of the PPIC Statewide Survey, which he has directed since 1998.
The Public Policy Institute of California is dedicated to informing and improving public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research. We are a public charity. We do not take or support positions on any ballot measure or on any local, state, or federal legislation, nor do we endorse, support, or oppose any political parties or candidates for public office. Research publications reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of our funders or of the staff, officers, advisory councils, or board of directors of the Public Policy Institute of California.