University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Environmental Policy in the Great Lakes Region: Current Issues and Public Opinion

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April 2014


This report reviews historical and current environmental problems in the Great Lakes and discusses attempts to address them through both joint (Canada-US) and unilateral policy. It then presents the results of a telephone survey of 1,247 residents in the Great Lakes Basin conducted in November and December 2013. The survey aimed to gauge public opinion on the value, current health and success of efforts to manage this shared resource, as well as measuring residents’ support for a number of policy options to address issues ranging from invasive species and pharmaceutical contamination to climate change and energy. While more than 65 public opinion studies related to the Great Lakes have been conducted over the past three decades, few have included significant numbers of both American and Canadian respondents to allow for cross-border comparison. Moreover, few have covered such a wide range of topics as are included in this report. The findings in this paper allow us not only to provide a representative sample of opinion throughout the Basin, but to also note where national differences exist. Two companion reports, also utilizing data from this survey, delve more deeply into the issues of wind energy and hydraulic fracturing in the Great Lakes Region.

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Keywords: Environment, Public Opinion

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