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April 22, 2013 6:21 PM Americans Really Don’t Care About the Environment

By Daniel Luzer

Today is Earth Day. Pew Research is therefore eager to publicize a poll indicating that 52 percent of Americans think protecting the environment should be “a top priority for the president and Congress in 2013.”

Sounds great, right? Bring on the environmental protection legislation!

Not really. The problem is that in the real world “top priority” means that of all priorities, this is number one or two, maybe five. If something were, say, number 11 on your list of priorities that wouldn’t really be anywhere near “top,” would it? In fact, it would probably just be something you wouldn’t get around to at all.

That’s where protecting the environment comes in American priorities. As Pew explains:

A Pew Research Center survey conducted in January asked Americans to name their top priorities for the president and Congress in 2013. Unsurprisingly, strengthening the economy (cited by 86 percent), improving the job situation (79 percent) and tackling the deficit (72 percent) were at the top of the list.

Here’s America’s priority list:

1. Strengthening nation’s economy (86 percent)
2. Improving job situation (79 percent)
3. Reducing budget deficit (72 percent)
4. Defending against terrorism (71 percent)
5. Securing Social Security (70 percent)
6. Improving education (70 percent)
7. Securing Medicare (65 percent)
8. Reducing health care costs (63 percent)
9. Helping poor and needy (57 percent)
10. Reducing crime (55 percent)
11. Protecting environment (52 percent)
12. Dealing with nation’s energy problem (45 percent)
13. Strengthening the military (41 percent)
14. Dealing with illegal immigration (39 percent)
15. Strengthening gun control laws (37 percent)

Yea, there we have it, two lines below “dealing with the poor and needy,” which are totally not things the president and Congress are going to do in 2013.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer