The general opinion of candidates up for election on Tuesday is:
- Toxic waste sites should not be allowed in Utah.- During a drought, protecting fish should have second priority on water supplies.
- Dams, mineral development and grazing fees are largely matters of indifference.
These were just a few of the observations drawn from a survey on the environment and wildlife that the Deseret News conducted among current elected officials and challengers.
The 15-question surveys were mailed to 198 candidates, with postage-paid return envelopes, and 135 responded - 55 incumbents and 80 non-incumbents. Of 83 Republicans, 59 responded; of 67 Democrats, 46 answered; and of 48 "other" candidates, 30 sent in their surveys.
They were asked, on a scale of 1 to 10 - with 1 recognized as strongly disagreeing and 10 strongly agreeing - to give their opinions on key environmental and wildlife questions.
The survey showed:
- To the question of whether they believe they should leave Utah's environment equal or better for future generations, most strongly felt they should - 9.5 was the average response. Democrats felt strongest, with an average of 9.9., and Republicans averaged 9.2.
- Respondents were lukewarm to the idea of starting up a Department of Environmental Quality. They leaned toward the idea, with 5.4 being average. Although incumbents indicated greater enthusiasm overall (6.4) than challengers (4.7), Democrats favored the idea (6.6) more than Republicans (6.0). Those from other parties liked it least of all (2.6).
- Respondents were generally against allowing toxic waste sites in Utah, even if they led to new jobs. Candidates rated the idea an average 3.9, although , those in rural Utah liked the idea a little more (4.6).
- Overall, respondents didn't feel pollution laws were too strict, with an average rating of 4.0. Those running outside the two main parties felt more inclined to loosening restrictions (6.0). Republicans overall (4.4) felt the laws were stricter than Democrats did (2.7).
- On the idea of a tax on non-biodegradable goods to pay for their recycling, candidates in the Republican and Democratic parties tended to favor the idea (average 7.8). Those in other parties, however, didn't (3.8).
The remaining questions dealt with wildlife matters.
- On development of new dams and reservoirs at the expense of areas critical to wildlife and fish, Republicans were more inclined to dam (6.3), the Democrats less likely (3.5). Rural candidates felt more strongly toward dams (6.7).
- To the question of preserving wildlife habitat over housing projects, Democrats were more favorable to wildlife - 8.4 to 6.9 - than Republicans were. "Others" favored wildlife least (5.0).
- Asked if they would develop oil, natural gas, or coal at the expense of fish and wildlife, most sat somewhere in the middle (average 5.5). Republicans, however, were more in favor of development (5.8), and Republicans less (4.3). "Others" favored development most (6.8).
- On stopping new highways through critical wildlife areas, opinions generally agreed they should stop the roads (mean 6.3).
- Democrats and Republicans were split on the idea of using public lands for grazing, even if it means a reduction on wildlife or fish. Republicans more more in favor of continuing grazing (6.5), and the Democrats less in favor (4.2).
- To a companion question about using school trust lands to generate maximum revenues, regardless of the impact on wildlife, respondents tended to disagree with the idea (mean 4.1).
- No clear opinion was given by either of the two major parties on releasing water purchased to protect fish in times of drought for agriculture. Democrats stay in the middle (5.1), while the Republicans liked the idea more (6.1). And "other" liked it even more (6.7).
- Candidates did strongly favor drinking the water as opposed to letting fish keep it. To the question of drinking water purchased for fish during a drought, the overall opinion was favorable (average 7.9).
- To a proposal for purchasing water to benefit all wildlife, not just fish, most were in favor of the idea (average 7.0).
- And, to the question of whether landowners should post their lands "no trespassing," attitudes leaned toward agreeing (average 6.7).
In some districts there appeared to be consensus among candidates, and in other districts almost complete disagreement.
The obvious conclusion, as the survey shows, not all candidates think alike on environment and wildlife issues. Most candidates have been, as the 135 returns show, willing to give the opinions.