New Poll: Americans Strongly Support Infrastructure Investments in American Jobs Plan to Build Resilience, Lower Costs of Climate-Driven Extreme Weather Events
(Washington, D.C. – June 3, 2021) As the Atlantic hurricane season kicks off this month a new poll finds a majority of Americans support funding natural infrastructure investments as part of the American Jobs Plan to build resilience and lower the loss of life and high financial cost of recovering from hurricanes made more destructive by climate change.
EDF Action, the advocacy partner of the Environmental Defense Fund, commissioned Morning Consult to conduct the survey. The poll gauges the opinions of Americans on hurricanes and flooding, their costs and the solutions federal and state governments can implement to help mitigate the devastating impact of disasters and build long-term resilience. The following are key findings from the Morning Consult survey.
Key National Findings:
- 83% of respondents support preventive measures to reduce the impact of natural disasters before they occur. This includes 85% of Northeastern respondents, 80% of Midwestern respondents and 84% of Southern respondents.
- More than two thirds of respondents support funding natural infrastructure as part of the American Jobs Plan, with 61% of independents and 50% of Republicans in favor as well as 74% of coastal respondents and 70% of inland respondents.
- 82% of respondents support natural infrastructure solutions to reduce flood risk, such as restored barrier islands, wetlands and floodplains, including 75% of Independents, 77% of Republicans, 87% of coastal respondents and 83% of inland respondents.
- A majority of respondents view hurricanes and flooding as a problem in the U.S. with 69% (hurricane) and 71% (flooding) of respondents saying the costs of clean up and recovery has increased.
Key State Findings:
- Florida: Respondents in Florida are deeply concerned about hurricanes (97%) and flooding (91%) with 89% supporting actions that mitigate the impacts of disasters before they occur and three quarters (74%) supporting investments in natural infrastructure as part of the American Jobs Plan.
- Louisiana: Respondents in Louisiana are deeply concerned about hurricanes (96%) and flooding (97%) with 80% supporting actions that mitigate the impacts of disasters before they occur and two thirds (69%) supporting investments in natural infrastructure as part of the American Jobs Plan.
- North Carolina: Respondents in North Carolina are deeply concerned about hurricanes (88%) and flooding (83%) with 87% supporting actions that mitigate the impacts of disasters before they occur and two thirds (67%) supporting investments in natural infrastructure as part of the American Jobs Plan.
“People from coast to coast are seeing and feeling the impacts of climate change through natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding, and are also starting to understand the cost of inaction,” said Steve Cochran, EDF Action AVP Coastal Resilience. “With hurricane season here, this poll shows that Americans support efforts to create a more resilient country by taking action before disaster strikes and making investments in natural infrastructure. That’s why Congress and the Biden Administration should not just fund the clean-up and recovery after each storm, but make the necessary investments in solutions like natural infrastructure as part of the American Jobs Plan. We can tackle climate change, invest in solutions that build resilience for all communities and create good-paying jobs in the process.”
Coastal communities are still reeling from the onslaught of hurricanes during last year’s record-breaking 2020 season, while experts predict another active season this year. 2020 was the most active hurricane season ever recorded. Many places, such as Louisiana was hit by five storms including two major hurricanes, are still recovering. Through rising sea levels and warmer air and water, climate change is making hurricanes more powerful and dangerous.
Leaders at the state and federal government can act now to make investments that protect people, infrastructure and ecosystems from hurricanes and flooding, every $1 spent on disaster mitigation saves $6 in disaster recovery. One key solution should include fortifying our coastal natural infrastructure — such as barrier islands and wetlands — to serve as a first line of defense against storms and sea level rise. A study from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) found that a square kilometer of wetlands is worth approximately $1.8 million a year on average in storm protection.
Extreme weather events are getting more destructive and costly because of human-caused climate change, according to an EDF report commissioned last year by Datu Research that tabulates U.S. government statistics on the subject. Average annual costs of extreme weather have quadrupled since the 1980s, for a total of $1.75 trillion, with taxpayers footing much of the cost. The tangible costs of severe weather events are falling directly on American families. And they’re falling disproportionately on people of color – for example, one year after Hurricane Harvey’s $130 billion devastation, 27% of Hispanics and 20% Blacks in Texas still had homes that were unsafe to live in, compared with 11% of whites.