Ask people whether they're personally willing to sacrifice Mother Earth for the sake of higher economic growth and they'll be reluctant to answer affirmatively, whatever their true feelings on the matter.
A Harris Poll probably elicited franker responses by stating the question in less personal terms. It asked, "What would you say is more important to your region -- protecting the environment or economic growth and development?" With the issue couched in these terms, growth/development trounced the environment by 63 percent to 27 percent, with the rest unsure. As recently as last June, respondents were divided almost evenly on the question, with 48 percent favoring growth and 43 percent preferring protection of the environment.
In the Midwest, which has been hit especially hard by the economic slowdown, the pro-growth margin was particularly wide in the new poll, with 69 percent favoring growth over the environment, vs. 18 percent stating the opposite preference. Even in the East, where the pro-environment vote was strongest, growth won 57 percent of the tally.