Survey: Americans Say “No” to Attacks on Pollution Safeguards, Gingrich Plan to Dismantle EPA

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Elizabeth Heyd, NRDC, 202-289-2424, or eheyd@nrdc.org
Ailis Aaron Wolf, 703-276-3265, or aawolf@hastingsgroup.com

Survey: Americans Say “No” to Attacks on Pollution Safeguards, Gingrich Plan to Dismantle EPA

Americans Pick Health of Families Over More Pollution From Corporations: 77 Percent of Americans – Including 61 Percent of Republicans – Say: “Congress Should Let the EPA Do Its Job.”

WASHINGTON - More than three out of four Americans (77 percent) - including a clear
majority of Republicans (61 percent) - oppose efforts in Congress to
block Clean Air Act updates for carbon, smog and other pollution,
according to a national opinion survey by Opinion Research Corporation
(ORC) International for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
 The new poll is being released today as a major House/Senate bill is
introduced in Congress to kill the authority of the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to continue its work on updating key
anti-pollution safeguards.

Conducted in response to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich's call
on January 25th to dismantle the EPA, the 1,007-person survey also finds
that more than two out of three Americans (67 percent) - including 61
percent of Republicans - oppose any such move to abolish the EPA.

"The bottom line is clear:  Democrats, Republicans and Independents want
politicians to protect the health of America's children rather than the
profit-driven agenda of big polluters" said Pete Altman, Climate
Campaign director, Natural Resources Defense Council. "People get that
the EPA is dedicated to protecting public health and want Congress to
let the agency do its job."

"Chairman Upton's bill, which is expected to block the Environmental
Protection Agency  from updating the Clean Air Act to limit carbon
pollution, puts our nation's health at risk," said Health Care Without
Harm's Climate Policy Coordinator Brenda Afzal, MS, RN. "Leading health
organizations and experts consider carbon dioxide pollution to be a
wide-ranging threat to public health, which contributes to the same air
pollution problems that worsen asthma and other chronic respiratory
illnesses that affect  millions of Americans and children. Our health
should not suffer so that members of Congress can put corporate profits
ahead of the public's health."

"The poll findings reflect strong bipartisan support both for the EPA in
general, and also for it playing a vigorous role in relation to
fighting air pollution" said Graham Hueber, senior project manager, ORC
International.  "There is no evidence in this survey to suggest that
Americans have any appetite for dismantling an agency that they see as
protecting the health of themselves and their families."

The health stakes for Americans in the future of the EPA and its current
work to update pollution safeguards are high.  On January 27, 2011,
NRDC joined with Health Care Without Harm to emphasize that more than 24
million Americans with asthma, including over 7 million children, are
at increased risk of adverse health consequences if the members of the
House and Senate seeking to block the EPA from updating the Clean Air
Act are successful in doing so.

Over 120 House members and 18 Senators have cosponsored one or more
pieces of legislation intended to prevent the Environmental Protection
Agency from reducing pollution from industrial plants and other sources.
By blocking the EPA, the lawmakers would be allowing polluters to
continue emitting unlimited amounts of carbon dioxide pollution and
unsafe amounts other pollutants. The lawmakers collectively have
received over $38,000,000 from polluters, many of which have made
stopping the EPA a high priority.  (For more information on the House
members, see http://www.nrdc.org/media/2011/110127.asp. For information on the Senate members, see http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/paltman/supporting_polluters_over_kids.html.)

Key findings from the new ORC International survey for NRDC include the following:

* Americans want the EPA to do more, not less.  Almost two thirds of
Americans (63 percent) say "the EPA needs to do more to hold polluters
accountable and protect the air and water," versus under a third (29
percent) who think the EPA already "does too much and places too many
costly restrictions on businesses and individuals."  Well under half of
Republicans (44 percent), less than a third of Independents (29 percent)
and under a fifth of Democrats (16 percent) think the EPA is going too
far today.

* Americans do not want Congress to kill the EPA's anti-pollution
updates.   Only 18 percent of Americans - including fewer than a third
of Republicans (32 percent) -- believe that "Congress should block the
EPA from updating pollution safeguards," after being told:  "Some
members of Congress are proposing to block the Environmental Protection
Agency from updating safeguards to protect our health from dangerous air
pollution, saying they will cost businesses too much money."  By
contrast, more than three out of four Americans (77 percent) --
including 61 percent of Republicans - say "Congress (should) let the EPA
do its job."

* The vast majority of Republicans - and all Americans - oppose the Newt
Gingrich plan to dismantle the EPA.   Overall, only 25 percent of
Americans agree with Newt Gingrich's call to eliminate the EPA.  More
than two out of three Americans (67 percent) oppose abolishing the EPA,
including half (49 percent) who strongly oppose it.    Among those
opposing the Gingrich plan:  61 percent of Republicans, 57 percent of
Independents, and 79 percent of Democrats.

* Support is weak for a new "Gingrich EPA" replacement agency. 
Gingrich's proposal that EPA be "replaced by an agency that would place
equal consideration for corporate interests as it does for protecting
American families against  air and water pollution" is supported by
fewer than two out of five Americans (39 percent).  

Full survey results are available online at http://bit.ly/fXmFyX.

This ORC International survey conducted for NRDC presents the findings
of a telephone poll conducted among a national probability sample of
1,007 adults comprising 500 men and 507 women 18 years of age and older,
living in private households in the continental United States.
 Interviewing for  the ORC International survey was completed during the
period January 27-30, 2011.   The margin of error for results based on
the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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