Opportunities for Bipartisanship: Comparing Water and Climate Policy in the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Abigail M. Randall**, University of Michigan

Abstract

The Great Lakes contain most of the United States’ freshwater as well as provide deep cultural and economic connections for the residents of the region. This connection creates an opportunity for bipartisanship in environmental policies, and the potential to permeate climate policies in the Great Lakes region. In order to explore that possibility, this paper examines how party affiliation affects support for water policies and, separately, climate policy, in the Great Lakes region. Data fr om the Great Lakes Region Public Opinion Survey asked 696 Democrats, Independents, or Republicans from the Great Lakes region to respond to a range of environmental policy proposals. Responses to the policy proposals grouped into four areas: Water Quality, Water Diversions, Traditional Fuels, and Renewables. The results of this project find that there is bipartisan support for Water Quality and Water Diversions policies in the Great Lakes region. Climate policies do not receive the same bipartisan support, with Democrats and Independents having more support for Renewables while Republicans have more support for Traditional Fuels. The results of this research suggest that embedding water policy in climate policy may allow those policies to receive more bipartisan support. Combining water policy and climate policy can depolarize some of the politics surrounding environmental policy.

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