Press Release | April 25, 2012

New poll: Buncombe County voters want protection of air & water and job creation

Local businesses and non-profits today welcomed a recent poll that shows voters in Buncombe County are looking for a pragmatic approach to issues that impact the health and well-being of their families and community, especially when it comes to job creation and keeping our air and water clean. The poll was conducted by polling firm Lincoln Park Strategies and commissioned by the Southern Environmental Law Center.[1]

Some legislators in Raleigh have argued that the state should roll back protections for the environment and natural resources to create jobs, but voters in Buncombe strongly disagree.

“The poll confirms that voters in Buncombe County expect their legislators to work for both a clean environment and good jobs,” said Derb Carter, director of the Carolinas Office of the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The survey found that 86 percent of voters in Buncombe County believe job creation should be a high priority for their representatives in Raleigh. However, an identical 86 percent believe job creation is just one issue among many that should be getting the attention of their representatives. This is particularly true when it comes to job creation and the environment. More than seven in ten Buncombe County voters (72 percent: including 78 percent of registered Democrats, 74 percent of independents and 54 percent of Republicans) agree that even in a bad economy we should not have to choose between protecting the environment and creating jobs. This attitude is not surprising given the fact that 59 percent of voters believe that strong environmental measures can actually attract jobs to the region.

Asheville Outdoor Center owner David Donnell agrees. “My business relies on a clean French Broad River. Our customers come from all over the country to float down this beautiful river. Thirty years ago this would not have been possible, because the river was too polluted.”

Voters gave low job approval numbers to their elected officials on many issues so legislators would do well to listen to voters and keep our air and water clean while creating jobs. Voters in Buncombe do not see good jobs, clean air and clean water as an either-or proposition, but as all three being connected to each other, and do not wish to see their choices curtailed with regards to those issues.

“We know that the forested mountains, clean rivers, and clean, clear air are part of what makes Western North Carolina successful. The announcements this year by Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Legacy Paddle Sports, which are bringing millions of dollars in investment and creating hundreds of well-paying jobs in the region prove that,” said Julie Mayfield, executive director of the Western North Carolina Alliance. “Economic growth is important, but making us choose between that and a healthy environment is a false choice. If we want to move forward as a region and a state there needs to be a focus on both.”

[1] Results are based on 400 respondent telephone survey conducted February 13-16, 2012 among likely general election 2012 voters in Buncombe County. The margin of error for the overall numbers is ±4.9. The poll was conducted by Lincoln Park Strategies of Washington, DC,  Contact: Stefan Hankin: 202-548-0047.


About Western North Carolina Alliance
For 30 years, the Western North Carolina Alliance has been a trusted community partner, marshalling grassroots support to keep our forests healthy, our air and water clean, and our communities vibrant. Utilizing a combination of policy advocacy, scientific research, and community collaboration, the Alliance and its chapters throughout Western North Carolina unleash the power of citizens’ voices to protect the natural heritage of our region so that people and the environment can thrive. For more information please visit

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