63% of Americans say “EPA needs to do more to hold polluters accountable and protect the air and water”

83% favor passing a clean energy bill this year


Guest Blogger Daniel J. Weiss is CAPAF’s Director of Climate Strategy.

Congressional advocates of suspending the Clean Air Act to block the Environmental Protection Agency from requiring reductions in carbon dioxide pollution either don’t know or don’t care that the public overwhelmingly opposes their efforts.   What’s worse is that they pretend that the public is on their side just because their big oil and other special interest pals are egging them on to stop EPA from protecting our families’ health.

Take Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), the new Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  In December he co-wrote an article with the head of Americans for Prosperity, an organization funded by the Koch Brothers who own Koch Industries – a major polluter. The article falsely claimed that “We think the American consumer would prefer” that EPA not establish carbon pollution safeguards.  This claim is disproven by recent public opinion research.

ORC International – the pollster for CNN – conducted a nationwide poll for the Natural Resources Defense Council.  It found overwhelming support for more – not fewer – EPA safeguards.

This ORC International survey “¦ conducted among a national probability sample of 1,007 adults”¦ [The] survey was completed during the period January 27-30, 2011. The margin of error “¦is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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 than 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.” More than three out of four Americans (77 percent) — including 61 percent of Republicans – say “Congress (should) let the EPA do its job.”

Rep. Upton’s attacks on health standards aren’t the only conservative position that is wildly out of touch with the American people.  For instance, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) – a possible presidential or gubernatorial candidate – believes that Americans do not support  investments in clean tech to create jobs.  In response to President Obama’s State of the Union call for investments in renewable energy and electric vehicles, Pence was disappointed with

The president’s call for spending on green jobs and infrastructure. I think most Americans know tax increases and more government spending are not going to be a pathway to economic recovery.

I hope the 112th Congress is known for heeding the voice of the American people.

Actually, Rep. Pence and those who agree with him are ignoring the vox populi.   The latest USA Today/Gallup poll found that creating incentives to invest in solar and other forms of alternative energy is the top priority of Americans.

Of eight actions Congress could take this year, Americans most favor an energy bill that provides incentives for using alternative energy (83%), an overhaul of the federal tax code (76%), and speeding up withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan (72%).

Of the eight proposals, the alternative energy bill and tax code overhaul ideas show the greatest bipartisan agreement, with 74% or more of each party group favoring these.

With Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and Democrats in control of the Senate, it would appear the proposals with the best chances of passing are those that generate strong bipartisan support. That is clearly the case for a bill that would provide incentives for increased use of alternative energy.

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) baldly asserted without any evidence that the 2010 election results communicated a definitive message from Americans about President Obama’s agenda.

We’re determined to stop the agenda Americans have rejected.

The primary evidence about 2010 voters’ views about carbon dioxide pollution were collected by GreenbergQuinlanRosner Research in a poll conducted the day before and day of the 2010 elections.  The verdict?  Overwhelming support by independent voters for action by EPA.

A survey of 1000 voters in 83 battleground districts1 was conducted November 1st – 2nd. The electorate in these districts leaned Republican on partisanship by an average of 9 points, compared with a one-point Republican advantage in the general electorate. Among these 83 districts, there was a net shift of power in at least 51 seats.

These same voters, however, support EPA regulations to reduce carbon emissions by a 22 point margin.

Now, let me ask about something different. Would you support or oppose the Environmental Protection Agency regulating the release of greenhouse gases from sources like power plants, cars and factories in an effort to reduce global warming?

Support            Oppose

58                     36

It is important to note that the question language does not include messaging, nor language favorable to proponents of EPA regulation of carbon.

Notably, among the strongest supporters of carbon emission regulations are persuadable

voters. These are the people who considered voting for a major party candidate they ultimately did not support, and nearly two-thirds of these voters support EPA action.

Additionally, Independent voters support regulation by 20 points. Even as the Democratic Party was swept out of power in the House, the voters who were the deciding factor in these historic elections are also among the most supportive of these EPA regulations.

Over the coming months, proponents of suspending or preventing reductions in carbon dioxide pollution will utter a number of half-truths, falsehoods, and outright lies to convince legislators to support this big oil and dirty coal agenda.  One of the most blatant misrepresentations will be their disproven assertion that the American people want to allow pollution to continue.  These and many other future polls are certain to unmask this false claim.

Guest Blogger Daniel J. Weiss is CAPAF’s Director of Climate Strategy, Center for American Progress Action Fund

Support for Possible Congressional Actions, by Political Party, January 2011

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