Aspen moves closer to settling Castle and Maroon creek dam cases

Under conditional water rights held by the city of Aspen since 1965, a 155-foot-tall dam would be built in this location on Maroon Creek to store 4,567 acre-feet of water. The city of Aspen is moving closer to reaching agreements with 10 opposing parties in water court to move the water rights to other locations.

By Brent Gardner-Smith, Aspen Journalism

City of Aspen officials are hoping to reach an agreement by May 29 with the 10 opposing parties in two water court cases over the city’s conditional water rights tied to potential dams on Maroon and Castle creeks.

While that timeline may be ambitious, one of the parties in the two cases, Double R Creek Ltd., which owns a residential property that would be flooded by the Castle Creek Reservoir, recently signed a settlement agreement with the city.

“My client has settled and feels that the settlement is a good one for my client since it eliminates the threat of the development of that reservoir anywhere in the Castle Creek valley,” said Kevin Patrick, a water attorney with Patrick, Miller and Noto who represents Double R Creek Ltd. “We’re pleased.”

The potential Castle Creek Reservoir, which would store 9,062 acre-feet of water behind a 170-foot-tall dam 2 miles below Ashcroft, would flood portions of the residential property owned by Double R Creek Ltd.

It also would flood residential property across Castle Creek owned by Asp Properties LLC, which also is opposing the city in water court.

The Maroon Creek Reservoir would hold 4,567 acre-feet of water behind a 155-foot-tall dam, located just below the confluence of East and West Maroon creeks on U.S. Forest Service property, within view of the Maroon Bells.

A graphic from Wilderness Workshop that shows how the potential Maroon Creek Reservoir would appear behind a 155-foot-tall dam just below the confluence of East and West Maroon creeks.

Other locations

Under similar settlement proposals sent to all the parties in the cases, the city would agree to move its conditional storage rights out of the Maroon and Castle creek valleys to six other potential locations in the Roaring Fork River valley, according to sources close to the court cases.

If the change in location of the water-storage rights is approved in water court, the city could retain the right to transfer as much as 8,500 acre-feet of water storage across those locations, down from the potential combined total of 13,629 acre-feet in Castle and Maroon creeks, but only in those six new locations.

The locations include the existing gravel pit in Woody Creek on land the city recently purchased for water storage next to the gravel pit, on the city’s golf course, on the Moore Open Space near the roundabout, on land near the Burlingame housing development and on the Cozy Point Open Space at the bottom of Brush Creek Road.

On May 29, city staff plans to present the signed agreement with Double R Creek Ltd. to the City Council in a regular public meeting for its final review and approval. They also are working to present signed agreements, or stipulations, with the other nine opposing parties in the cases, as well.

“We’re hopeful that when we come to council we’re going to have stipulations from all the parties,” said Margaret Medellin, utilities portfolio manager for the city. “And if we don’t, we will take what we have and continue to work toward a point of settlement.”

Outstanding areas of agreement among some of the opposing parties and the city revolve around assurances that the city won’t try and move its conditional rights, fail in its attempt, and then return to seeking to maintain its conditional rights in the Castle and Maroon valleys.

Patrick said the agreement he signed on behalf of his client includes those assurances.

An illustration prepared by Wilderness Workshop of the potential Castle Creek Reservoir, based on plans filed by the city of Aspen with the state in 1965 to create water rights for the reservoir. The city is now moving closer to reaching agreement with parties opposing the city’s 2016 due-diligence application to maintain the rights.

Ongoing process

The other parties in the two cases include two property owners in Maroon Creek, Larsen Family LP and Roaring Fork Land and Cattle Co., Pitkin County, the U.S. Forest Service, Wilderness Workshop, Western Resource Advocates, American Rivers, and Trout Unlimited.

The city first applied for the conditional water storage rights for the two potential reservoirs in 1965 and the decree for the rights carries a 1971 priority date. (See timeline.)

In October 2016, the city submitted two due-diligence applications for the reservoirs and the cases attracted opposition from 10 parties across the two cases.

In July 2017, the city announced its intention to move the conditional storage rights out of both valleys and has been in negotiations with the opposing parties in the case since then.

On Tuesday, the city’s water attorney, Andrea Benson of Alperstein and Covell in Denver, updated the Division 5 water court referee, Susan Michelle Ryan, on the city’s settlement efforts.

“Since the last status conference, I believe we’ve made some good progress toward settlement with all of the opposers,” Benson said.

Benson said in addition to having a signed stipulation with Double R Creek Ltd., the city has also reached a “settlement in concept” with both Western Resource Advocates and Wilderness Workshop. (See “minute order” on status conference from the water court referee.)

Will Roush, the conservation director at Wilderness Workshop, said his organization’s main goal in the cases has been “protecting those two creeks and ensuring that there wasn’t the possibility of building dams on either creek. Dams obviously fragment streams and the riparian habitat. So our goal has always been to protect the ecosystems of those two valleys.”

Paul Noto, a water attorney also with Patrick, Miller and Noto, is representing American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, and the Roaring Fork Land and Cattle Co. in the cases.

“We’ve been working with the city toward settlement, and it seems like we’re making progress, and we hope to have the case wrapped up shortly,” Noto said Tuesday.

Medellin, who declined to discuss the specifics of the proposed settlements, said city staff has been “negotiating with council’s direction.”

She also said the city’s position is that all of the parties in the case need to agree to settle for the final deal to be struck.

“We think we’ve been able to come to a place where we are all going to get what we want, or close to it,” she said.

Aspen Journalism is covering water and rivers in collaboration with The Aspen Times. The Times published this story on Wednesday, May 9, 2018.

#Drought news: D4 (Exceptional Drought) expanded in SW #Colorado, rainfall NE Colorado

Click on a thumbnail to view a gallery of drought data from the US Drought Monitor.

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

Summary

This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw scattered showers and thunderstorms across portions of the South, southern and central Plains, Midwest, and Northeast. This week’s storm activity led to targeted improvements in drought-related conditions in portions of Texas, Kansas, Iowa, and Florida while conditions deteriorated in parts of the Desert Southwest, northern Plains, and the Midwest. Across most of the continental U.S., average temperatures for the week were well above normal including some recording-breaking heat last week in parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast where temperatures soared into the 90s. In the southern and central Plains, concerns continue with regard to the condition of the winter wheat crop with the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board reporting 50% of the Kansas winter wheat crop in poor to very poor condition while Oklahoma and Texas are worse off at 68% and 60%, respectively. In the Southwest, a very dry winter and spring season are taking a toll on the vegetation with the USDA reporting 95% of Arizona pasture and rangeland in poor to very poor condition with New Mexico at 60%…

South

On this week’s map, improvements were made across parts of Texas (central, southern, western) where scattered showers and thunderstorms late last week and into the weekend produced locally heavily rainfall accumulations ranging from 2-to-5 inches while the drought-stricken Panhandle region remained hot and dry leading to slight expansion of areas of Extreme Drought (D3) and Exceptional Drought (D4). According to the May 7th USDA Texas Crop Progress and Condition report, winter wheat in the north-central Plains remained in poor condition. In Oklahoma, heavy rainfall (2-to-4 inches) was observed in parts of the state including southwestern, south-central, and east-central, leading to some targeted minor improvements along the sharp gradient between drought and drought-free areas. Elsewhere in the region, northwestern Arkansas and portions of northern Mississippi received rain during the past week with accumulations ranging from 2-to-3 inches. Temperatures were above normal across most of the region with the largest positive anomalies in western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle where maximum daily temperatures reached the mid-90s…

High Plains

On this week’s map, locally heavy rains (3-to-5 inches) impacted isolated areas of northeastern Kansas leading to reduction in areas of Moderate Drought (D1). Meanwhile, short-term precipitation deficits during the past 30 to 60 days led to expansion of areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) in eastern North Dakota where local pastures are in need of rainfall and some cattle producers are running low on feed. According to the May 7th USDA NASS North Dakota Crop Progress and Condition Report, pasture and range conditions were reported as 5% very poor and 22% poor. In southeastern Nebraska and the eastern half of Kansas, dryness during the past 30 to 60 days has led to low streamflows especially in Kansas where many rivers and creeks are currently flowing well below normal levels. For the week, the region was warm and dry (with the exception of portions of northeastern Kansas, northeastern Colorado, and southeastern Wyoming) with temperatures well above normal and maximum daily temperatures exceeding 80°F…

West

On this week’s map, areas of Extreme Drought (D3) expanded in north-central Arizona and central New Mexico. In north-central Arizona, precipitation for the current Water Year (October to present) is the driest on record or falling within the bottom 10th percentile, according to the Western Regional Climate Center’s WestWide Drought Tracker. Looking at statewide precipitation rankings, Arizona experienced its 3rd driest October-through-April period on record while New Mexico had its 10th driest, according to the NOAA NCEI. Elsewhere in the region, areas of Exceptional Drought (D4) expanded in southwestern Colorado where precipitation totals for the current Water Year at a number of NRCS SNOTEL stations (in the San Juan Mountains) are at record low levels with well below normal runoff forecasted. Overall, the West was hot and dry during the past week – with some light shower activity (generally less than 1 inch) observed in the Intermountain West, central and northern Rockies, and portions of the Pacific Northwest. Average temperatures were well above normal in the northern half of the region while the southern half was near normal…

Looking Ahead

The NWS WPC 7-Day Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) calls for moderate-to-heavy accumulations ranging from 2-to-3 inches across portions of the northern Rockies (south-central Montana, Wyoming), northern portions of the Midwest and southern portions of the Northeast, and southern Florida. Drought-stricken areas of the Desert Southwest are forecast to remain in a dry pattern as well as much of the Southern Plains, South, and Southeast. The CPC 6–10-day outlook calls for a high probability of above-normal temperatures across all of the continental U.S. with the exception of southern California and southwestern Arizona where temperatures are expected to be near normal. In terms of precipitation, above normal amounts are expected in the Great Basin, Intermountain West, portions of the southern Rockies, Southern and Central Plains, and most of the eastern U.S. while below normal precipitation is forecast for the Pacific Northwest and northern California.

@USBR: Another dry year in the Colorado River Basin increases the need for additional state and federal actions

Out of the Grand, and into Lake Mead. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

Here’s the release from Reclamation (Patti Aaron/Marlon Duke):

2018 has brought record-low snowpack levels to many locations in the Colorado River Basin, making this the driest 19-year period on record. With the depressed snowpack and warming conditions, experts indicate that runoff from the Rocky Mountains into Lake Powell this spring will yield only 42 percent of the long-term average.

With drought and low runoff conditions dating back to 2000, this current period is one of the worst drought cycles over the past 1,200 plus years.

While many water users in the Colorado River Basin have already experienced significant hardships, three factors have avoided a crisis – so far – in the Basin:

  • Water stored in Colorado River reservoirs during prior years of plentiful snowpack and runoff has helped ensure continued and reliable water and power from Reclamation infrastructure.
  • Reclamation reservoirs were nearly full when drought conditions began in 2000 providing ample water supplies that have carried the Basin through this period of historic drought.
  • Voluntary water conservation efforts taken by Reclamation, the seven Colorado River Basin states, water districts and Mexico have stabilized the decline of Lake Mead – delaying the onset of reductions to water users in Arizona, Nevada, Mexico, and ultimately California. But these efforts by themselves would not protect Lake Mead and Lake Powell if drought conditions persist.
  • The infrastructure built by prior generations is working, but the best information available shows a high likelihood of significant water reductions in the Colorado River Basin in the years ahead. Concerns are increasing as forecast models predict a 52 percent chance of shortage conditions at Lake Mead beginning in 2020, with a greater than 60 percent likelihood of shortage thereafter. Over the past decade, the risk of declining to critical reservoir levels has approximately tripled.

    Following strong calls for action in 2017, Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman is focused on the increased risk from another dry year in the Colorado River Basin. She noted that there is no indication that the current low runoff and drought conditions will end anytime soon. She emphasized that the extended drought and increased risk of crisis in the Colorado River Basin requires prompt action.

    “We need action and we need it now. We can’t afford to wait for a crisis before we implement drought contingency plans,” said Reclamation Commissioner Burman. “We all—states, tribes, water districts, non-governmental organizations—have an obligation and responsibility to work together to meet the needs of over 40 million people who depend on reliable water and power from the Colorado River. I’m calling on the Colorado River basin states to put real – and effective – drought contingency plans in place before the end of this year.”

    In 2017, the United States and Mexico agreed to a new strategy that would lead to increased savings of water by Mexico, but that agreement will only go into effect if the Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada finalize their drought contingency plan.

    “Adoption of additional water conservation measures now is the best approach to protect Lake Mead as we continue to work on long-term solutions,” said Lower Colorado Regional Director Terry Fulp.

    Upper Colorado Regional Director Brent Rhees added, “We’ve weathered the past two decades of drought thanks to our water storage infrastructure. Completing drought contingency plans will provide better certainty for continued reliable water and power.”

    The following individual statements were provided by the Governors’ Representatives of the Colorado River Basin States:

  • Pat Tyrrell, Wyoming’s State Engineer stated: “This is a critical juncture and we must complete drought contingency plans in both the Upper Basin and the Lower Basin prior to crisis. Further delay is not an option, and I have to believe we can get to ‘yes.’ Full implementation of Minute 323 with Mexico is only possible when the drought contingency plans are complete, and with Lower Basin shortages likely by 2020, we have no other palatable solution.”
  • “Colorado is heartened by Commissioner Burman’s call to action, stands at the ready to move drought contingency planning forward, and agrees that the situation is urgent. Paraphrasing Ben Franklin, the states must hang together or we’ll hang separately,” said Colorado’s James Eklund.
  • “With the threat of this unprecedented drought continuing, the Colorado River Basin States and Mexico need to complete drought contingency planning efforts in the near future. We need the participation of all these parties in order to ensure this goal’s accomplishment. It has never been more important to work together,” said Eric Millis, Director of the Utah Division of Water Resources.
  • “New Mexico believes that drought contingency plans are a key step to surviving this exceptional drought. Now is the time for us to come together and establish a path for the future of the Colorado River Basin,” said Tom Blaine, New Mexico State Engineer.
  • “This ongoing drought is a serious situation and Mother Nature does not care about our politics or our schedules,” said John Entsminger, Southern Nevada Water Authority general manager. “We have a duty to get back to the table and finish the Drought Contingency Plan to protect the people and the environment that rely upon the Colorado River.”
  • California’s Colorado River Commissioner, Bart Fisher, stated that, “California’s Colorado River agencies recognize the continuing poor hydrologic conditions within both California and the Colorado River Basin, and remain fully committed to collaborate with our partner states in completing the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan and ensuring activation of the Mexican Binational Water Scarcity Contingency Plan contained within Minute No. 323.”
  • “The completion of the lower basin states’ Drought Contingency Plan is vitally important to Arizonans. The plan reduces the likelihood of Lake Mead declining to critically low levels and incentivizes the use of tools to conserve water in the Lake so that reductions in delivery of Arizona’s Colorado River supplies are avoided or lessened,” said Thomas Buschatzke, Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
  • In addition to Reclamation’s ongoing work with the Colorado River Basin states, it also coordinates with the Upper Colorado River Commission. Felicity Hannay, Chair of the Upper Colorado River Commission, said that “The Commission takes the position that implementation of drought contingency plans in both basins is critical to get us through this dry spell.”

    Projections of Lake Powell and Lake Mead operations for the next five years can be found at https://go.usa.gov/xQNM7.

    A dry #RioGrande in springtime isn’t normal. But it will be — New Mexico Political Report #ActOnClimate

    The headwaters of the Rio Grande River in Colorado. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

    From the New Mexico Political Report (Laura Paskus):

    In early April, when the Middle Rio Grande should have been rushing with snowmelt, New Mexico’s largest river dried. It started through Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, spreading to more than 20 miles by now. The Albuquerque stretch may dry come June or July, which would mean some 120 miles dry altogether this summer.

    Already, if you live in Albuquerque, you may have peered over the bridges and seen sandbars and slow water this spring. Even in places like Velarde or Española, historically low flows are trickling through your town, the result of not enough snow in the mountains this winter.

    To see this happening in spring is shocking. But we shouldn’t be surprised. We knew this could happen. Just like we knew the climate was changing.

    We know, for example, that warming makes an arid climate even drier.

    On average, our snowpack is decreasing, moving north and melting earlier. That leads to less water in the rivers when we need it—spring and early summer before monsoons arrive.

    And even when there is snow, warmer temperatures transform more of it to water vapor before it can liquefy its way into the watershed. Warming dries out soils and sends more dust into the air. That’s bad news, both for breathing creatures and snowpack, as topsoil-coated snowpack melts faster.

    Warming means less water in rivers and reservoirs, and also less water underground.

    Groundwater isn’t being recharged through snowmelt and streamflows, and we’re pumping more to compensate for the lack of surface water. New Mexicans survived the drought of the 1950s by pumping groundwater when the rivers slowed and the rains failed to fall. Since then, we’ve kept pumping, depleting aquifers and groundwater supplies.

    Warmer, drier conditions also mean bigger, hotter wildfires and a longer wildfire season.

    And after the fires, some of our forests can’t regenerate. Where they once thrived, ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forests can’t survive because it’s too warm—not to mention dry. In some places, even hardy junipers are drying out and dying off.

    Before the Dome Fire and then Las Conchas, which burned here in the Jemez Mountains seven years ago, this was a dense conifer forest. Today, the climate is too warm for those trees to return.

    In some places across this 30,000-acre burn scar, aspens and locust trees are sprouting where firs used to grow. In other places, the ground remains bare. When rains fall here, floods drive torrents of mud, ash and debris downstream.

    Climate change means our forests change; our rivers and our grasslands change. It means our cities and small towns, farms and orchards change.

    And we’ve known this for a long time.

    In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s science advisers told him humans were “unwittingly conducting a vast geophysical experiment” by burning within a few generations fossil fuels that had accumulated over hundreds of millions of years. The carbon dioxide humans were injecting into the atmosphere would cause changes, they wrote, that would harm human beings.

    In 1988, the New York Times reported on its front page that the Earth was warming. NASA scientist James Hansen testified before Congress, urging action to cut carbon emissions.

    We knew what was happening.

    In 2005, New Mexico released a report on the potential effects of climate change on the state. The 51-page summary report laid out a range of problems and potential solutions, related to everything from water and infrastructure to public health, wildfire and environmental justice.

    New Mexicans then elected a governor who ended all state programs under her authority related to climate change.

    Ten years later, scientists, economists and hydrologists worked together to understand New Mexico’s drought vulnerabilities. They handed off a report to the legislature that revealed problems with groundwater supplies in the Lower Rio Grande.

    Our state Legislature didn’t renew their funding.

    For decades, there have been scientific papers, government reports, planning documents, economic studies and international agreements.

    We knew what was going to happen.

    And yet, here we are.

    No matter what you might hear from certain voices, this drying in the Middle Rio Grande is not normal for springtime.

    That’s not to say that the river here has never dried in the spring, since records have been kept or before.

    But just because something has happened before doesn’t mean it’s normal.

    As it continues happening—as a river that supports millions of people in three states and two countries continues to dry—we all need to pay attention.

    We also need to understand what biological, chemical and hydrological impacts are occurring, says Clifford Dahm, professor emeritus at the University of New Mexico’s Department of Biology and an expert on intermittent and ephemeral rivers.

    “The aquatic creatures that live in the river, as it’s drying and staying dry longer, are going to change,” he said. “There will be a shift towards completely different communities of fish, algae, invertebrates and trees.”

    Right now, we don’t know how quickly those shifts will occur, which species will survive, die or recover. But when the water table drops to more than ten feet below the surface, we do know cottonwood trees struggle and then die, Dahm said.

    Right now, we know that in the Rio Grande Basin, warming will lead to a four to fourteen percent reduction in flow by the 2030s and an eight to 29 percent reduction by the 2080s.

    On the Colorado River—which New Mexico also relies upon—scientists have predicted a 20 to 30 percent decrease in flows by 2050. And a 35 to 55 percent decrease by the end of the century.

    Even on the Gila River in southwestern New Mexico, warming will decrease flows by about 5 to ten percent due to decreasing snowmelt runoff.

    Report: Politics & Global Warming, March 2018

    Click here to read the report from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. Here’s the executive summary:

    Executive Summary

    Drawing on a nationally representative survey (n=1,278; including 1,067 registered voters), this report describes how Democratic, Independent, and Republican registered voters view global warming, climate change and energy policies, and personal and collective action. Among other important findings, this survey documents an increase in Republican understanding of the reality of human-caused global warming, worry about the threat, and support for several climate policies over the past 6 months.

    Global Warming Beliefs and Attitudes

  • Most registered voters (73%) think global warming is happening, including 95% of liberal Democrats, 88% of moderate/conservative Democrats and 68% of liberal/moderate Republicans, but only 40% of conservative Republicans.
  • A majority of registered voters (59%) think global warming is caused mostly by human activities, including 84% of liberal Democrats, 70% of moderate/conservative Democrats, and 55% of liberal/moderate Republicans (14 percentage points higher than in October 2017), but only 26% of conservative Republicans.
  • A majority of registered voters (63%) are worried about global warming, including 88% of liberal Democrats, 76% of moderate/conservative Democrats, and 58% of liberal/moderate Republicans, but only 30% of conservative Republicans. Worry about global warming has increased among liberal/moderate Republicans by 15 percentage points since May 2017 and by seven points among conservative Republicans since October 2017.
  • Global Warming and Energy Policies

    Large majorities of registered voters across the political spectrum support a range of policies that promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution and dependence on fossil fuels. These include:

  • Funding more research into renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power (87% of registered voters, 94% of Democrats, 83% of Independents, and 79% of Republicans).
  • Generating renewable energy on public land in the United States (86% of registered voters, 91% of Democrats, 82% of Independents, and 81% of Republicans).
  • Providing tax rebates to people who purchase energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels (85% of registered voters, 91% of Democrats, 82% of Independents, and 77% of Republicans).
  • Regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant (81% of registered voters, 91% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 69% of Republicans).
  • Setting strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, even if the cost of electricity to consumers and companies would likely increase (73% of registered voters, 87% of Democrats, 70% of Independents, and 56% of Republicans, a nine percentage-point increase since October 2017).
  • Requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a carbon tax and using the money to reduce other taxes (such as income tax) by an equal amount (71% of registered voters, 84% of Democrats, 68% of Independents, and 56% of Republicans, a seven percentage-point increase since October 2017).
  • Three in four registered voters (77%) support continued S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement, including almost all Democrats (92%), three in four Independents (75%), and a majority of Republicans (60%).
  • A majority of registered voters (66%) oppose President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, including 91% of Democrats and 63% of Independents, but only 36% of Republicans.
  • A majority of registered voters (59%) think protecting the environment improves economic growth and provides new jobs. An additional 21% think protecting the environment has no effect on economic growth or jobs. By contrast, only 18% think protecting the environment reduces growth and costs jobs. Conservative Republicans are the only political group more likely to think protecting the environment reduces growth and jobs (39%) versus improves it (32%).
  • When there is a conflict between environmental protection and economic growth, 71% of registered voters think environmental protection is more important, including 85% of Democrats, three in four Independents (75%), and more than half of Republicans (52%).
  • A large majority of registered voters (81%, including 94% of Democrats, 81% of Independents, and 65% of Republicans) say that schools should teach children about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to global warming.
  • Solid majorities of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans say the United States should use more solar energy (80% of registered voters, 84% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 75% of Republicans) and wind energy (73% of registered voters, 82% of Democrats, 75% of Independents, and 62% of Republicans).
  • Only about one in ten registered voters think the United States should use more coal (12% of registered voters; 6% of Democrats, 14% of Independents, and 18% of Republicans) and oil (11% of registered voters; 7% of Democrats, and 16% of both Independents and Republicans). Slightly more than one in three think the United States should use more natural gas (36% of registered voters; 31% of Democrats, 39% of Independents, and 42% of Republicans), and about one in four (23%) think the United States should use more nuclear energy (19% of Democrats, 36% of Independents, and 26% of Republicans).
  • About half of registered voters support expanding drilling for oil and natural gas off the U.S. coast (49% of registered voters, 31% of Democrats, 43% of Independents, and 73% of Republicans).
  • Forty-five percent of registered voters support drilling and mining for coal, oil, and natural gas on public land in the United States (27% of Democrats, 35% of Independents, and 69% of Republicans).
  • Only one in three registered voters support drilling for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (32% of registered voters, 15% of Democrats, 28% of Independents, and 52% of Republicans).
  • Global Warming as a Voting Issue

  • Nearly four in ten registered voters (38%) say a candidates’ position global warming will be very important when they decide who they will vote for in the 2018 Congressional election.
  • Of 28 issues asked about, global warming was ranked the 15th most important voting issue among all registered voters. However, it was the fourth most important issue for liberal Democrats.
  • Acting on Global Warming

  • Across party lines, a majority of registered voters say corporations and industry should do more to address global warming (70% of registered voters; 84% of Democrats, 70% of Independents, and 55% of Republicans).
  • At least half of registered voters – including Democrats, Independents, and liberal/moderate Republicans, but not conservative Republicans – think citizens, the U.S. Congress, President Trump, their own member of Congress, and/or their local government officials should do more to address global warming. Half or more Democrats and Independents think their governor and/or the media should do more.
  • A majority of registered voters (54%) think global warming should be a high or very high priority for the president and Congress, including a majority of Democrats (78%) and Independents (58%), but fewer Republicans (25%).
  • A strong majority of registered voters (70%) think the United States should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what other countries do. Majorities of liberal Democrats (91%), moderate/conservative Democrats (77%), and liberal/moderate Republicans (63%) take this position, as well as 46% of conservative Republicans.
  • Individual and Collective Action

  • A total of one in three registered voters (34%) are either participating (3%), or would definitely (10%) or probably (22%) participate, in a campaign to convince elected officials to take action to reduce global warming (51% of Democrats, 31% of Independents, but only 15% of Republicans).
  • However, fewer than half of that number (13%) say they have actually contacted an elected official during the past 12 months to urge them to take action to reduce global warming, including one in five liberal Democrats (21%).
  • A majority of registered voters (54%) would vote for a candidate for public office because of their position on global warming (72% of Democrats, 42% of Independents, and 36% of Republicans).
  • About one third of registered voters say that, if asked by someone they like and respect, they would donate money to an organization working on global warming (37%), contact a government official about global warming (35%), volunteer for an organization working on global warming (33%), and/or meet with an elected official or their staff about global warming (32%).