Jack Kramer / ctnewsjunkie
Branford rest area (Jack Kramer / ctnewsjunkie)

A large majority of voters in Connecticut consider air pollution to be a serious problem, regardless of their party affiliation, and those same people also believe action is needed to reduce emissions from cars and trucks.

That’s according to a new survey of more than 4,000 voters from 11 states, including 445 from Connecticut. The poll conducted by Public Policy Polling was sponsored by the Sierra Club — an environmental activist organization.

• Results

Air pollution is a concern for 77 percent of those polled in Connecticut, with 33 percent considering air pollution a very serious problem and 44 percent considering it a somewhat serious problem.

Only 4 percent of respondents do not consider it a problem at all. Eighty-five percent think that cars and trucks contribute either a great deal (42 percent) or somewhat (43 percent) to air pollution, and there is significant bipartisan support for state and regional plans to address transportation-related air pollution.

Nearly three-in-four Connecticut voters support a regional plan for modernizing the transportation system and limiting air pollution by investing in electric vehicles, public transportation, and safer communities for walking and biking.

This proposal attracts strong bipartisan support; 86 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Republicans, and 65 percent of Independents support the regional plan.

Nick Sifuentes, executive director, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, which includes Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, said the polling results show him that “we need more collaboration — not just across political lines but state lines.”

Sifuentes said while the polling shows people support transportation improvements regardless of party affiliation, politicians have a hard time getting behind the idea “because it comes down to money — in some cases billions of dollars.”

“Legislators are always nervous about that,” Sifuentes added. But, he went on, “We don’t need politicians, we need statesmen” who can look past the next election cycle and see decades down the road to the type of transportation system the next generation will be inheriting.

During the recently completed General Assembly session, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, tried unsuccessfully to bring up the issue of tolls on Connecticut roads, stating he was willing to stake his political future on it because it was the fair thing to do.

Aresimowicz said the state’s gotten to a point where politicians can no longer have an intelligent argument about the insolvency of the Special Transportation Fund or the decline in the amount of gas taxes due to an increasing number of electric vehicles on the roads.

Aresimowicz, too, used the term “states people” saying the legislature needed to do what’s right, regardless of the political consequences.

Jim Williams, polling expert for Public Policy Polling, said he’s done a lot of polling and he was struck “by the significant, bipartisan support” for improving transportation across the region.

“It is highly unusual to see support in the 70s and 80s and support from Republicans and Democrats,” Williams said on the same issue.

Other polling results from the survey show that 76 percent of Connecticut voters support state government acting to reduce air pollution from cars and trucks by investing in the state transportation system and relying more on fuel-efficient, electric cars and trucks, mass transit, and other public transportation options.

There is strong bipartisan backing for action according to the survey — 87 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of Republicans, and 65 percent of Independents support the state taking such steps to reduce air pollution from cars and trucks.

Specifically on the issue of climate change, 74 percent of Connecticut voters call it a very serious problem (47 percent) or a somewhat serious problem (27 percent).

Connecticut voters believe a regional transportation modernization plan will have a positive effect in the region. Forty-nine percent say they think it would have a positive effect on jobs and 54 percent think it will have a positive effect on people’s health.

There were 445 Connecticut residents, all registered voters, polled. Forty-one percent of the Connecticut respondents identified themselves as Democrats; 25 percent as Republicans 35 percent as Independents. Fifty-two percent were women; 47 percent men; 1 percent, another gender.

Jack Kramer / ctnewsjunkie
Branford rest area (Jack Kramer / ctnewsjunkie)

The poll reported that 73 percent of Connecticut respondents were white; 11 percent were African-American; 10 percent were Hispanic; and 5 percent were other.

By age, 17 percent were 70 or older; 21 percent of the Connecticut respondents were 60 to 69; 19 percent were 50 to 59; 16 percent were 40 to 49; 15 percent were 30 to 39; 13 percent were 18 to 29.

Sixty percent of the Connecticut respondents lived in suburban areas; 22 percent in rural areas; 19 percent in urban areas.

Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest grassroots environmental organizations with more than 3 million members and supporters in all 50 states.

The Sierra Club’s mission is to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth, to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; and to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environments.