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VA Hunters, Anglers Strongly Support EPA Clean Water Policy

Hunters and anglers in Virginia and nationally support a controversial EPA clean-water policy by overwhelming numbers. Photo credit: Mark Taylor/Trout Unlimited
Hunters and anglers in Virginia and nationally support a controversial EPA clean-water policy by overwhelming numbers. Photo credit: Mark Taylor/Trout Unlimited
July 24, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. - A poll of hunters and anglers in Virginia and across the nation has found overwhelming support for a controversial Environmental Protection Agency clean-water policy - even among conservatives.

The National Wildlife Federation, which commissioned the survey, found that more than four out of five Virginia hunters and anglers supported an EPA clean-water plan to apply Clean Water Act protections to small headwaters and wetlands - something that had been under a legal cloud.

"Very strong bipartisan support from hunters and anglers across the country, and very similar results in Virginia," said longtime Virginia angler Steve Moyer, vice president for government affairs at Trout Unlimited. "This pollster said this is one of the strongest results that they had ever seen."

Across the spectrum - age, sex, geography, political orientation - people surveyed said clean water is a top priority for them. Moyer said there are 800,000 anglers in Virginia, spending more than $1 billion a year on the sport. He said the poll results match what he hears when he talks to them.

"You never hear people saying that they want to see poorer water quality," he said. "People really love clean water. They love the state's streams and rivers."

Republicans in Congress say they want to overturn the policy. Bills have been introduced to do that, Moyer said, but added that lawmakers need to understand how unpopular that would be.

"That's really what this poll is telling us, is telling the politicians, is that people love clean water," he said. "They don't want to see the Clean Water Act weakened. In fact, they want to see it strengthened."

Some industries criticize the plan as over-regulation, but the federation survey was done by a partnership of a Republican and a Democratic polling firm - and found strong support for the rule even among politically conservative outdoor enthusiasts. The results are online at nwf.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA