The share of Americans who say stricter environmental laws and regulations are “worth the cost” has ticked up in recent years, with a significant shift coming among Republicans.
Today, 63% of U.S. adults say stricter environmental regulations are “worth the cost,” while 30% say such regulations “cost too many jobs and hurt the economy,” according to a new survey by Pew Research Center. Two years ago, the balance of opinion was narrower, as 59% said stricter environmental regulations were worth the cost, while 37% said they cost too many jobs.
Partisanship continues to be a major factor in opinions about tougher environmental laws, with Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents far more likely than Republicans and GOP leaners to view stricter laws and regulations as worth the cost.
But since 2017, the share of Republicans who take a positive view of stricter environmental laws has increased, from 36% then to 45% today. There has been little change in Democrats’ views in this period (77% then, 81% now).
Still, Republicans remain less supportive of stricter environmental laws and regulations than they were during the 1990s and much of the 2000s. In 2007, for example, 58% of Republicans said they were worth the cost.
Republicans are divided ideologically over stricter environmental regulations. Among the roughly two-thirds of Republicans and Republican leaners who describe their political views as conservative, 60% say stricter laws cost too many jobs and hurt the economy. Among the party’s moderates and liberals (who make up about a third of all Republicans and GOP leaners), 60% say stricter environmental laws are worth the cost.
Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, a larger majority of liberals (88%) than conservatives and moderates (74%) say stricter environmental laws are worth the cost.
There also are gender, age and educational differences in these attitudes. Women (69%) are more likely than men (58%) to say stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost. And while majorities in every age group say stricter environmental laws are worth it, a larger share of those ages 18 to 29 (72%) say this compared with those who are older than 50 (60%).
Positive views of environmental laws and regulations are also more common among adults with more education. Roughly three-quarters of those with a college degree or more (74%) say stricter environmental laws are worth the cost, compared with 59% of those without a college degree.
Note: See full topline results and methodology here.