WASHINGTON (Feb. 4, 2013) — An overwhelming majority of U.S. voters supports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) setting stricter standards on gasoline and tighter emissions standards for cars, SUVs and trucks, according to a recent survey by the American Lung Association (ALA).
The bipartisan telephone survey of 800 registered voters was conducted Jan.13-16. It found that nearly two-thirds of voters surveyed across the country support strengthening standards that limit sulfur in gasoline and tighten the limits on tailpipe emissions from new vehicles. These revised standards would reduce pollution from cars, trucks and SUVs, would protect public health and would create jobs by encouraging innovation, the ALA said.
"Voters clearly want clean air," said Paul G. Billings, senior vice president of the ALA. "Implementing these standards on gasoline would remove as much pollution as taking 33 million cars off the road. If we can remove that much pollution, we can prevent tens of thousands of asthma attacks and save thousands of lives every year."
Voter support of stronger air pollution standards reaches across partisan, gender, racial and geographic lines, according to the polling, which was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies.
"This proposal is the most effective smog-fighting tool available, and cleaner gas would cost less than a penny per gallon" Mr. Billings said. "That's why auto makers, states, health groups and voters across all parties support this proposal."
Air pollution has a devastating effect on the health of families and children, shortening lives, worsening asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and even causing cancer, the ALA said. Also, by keeping people healthier, families would miss fewer days at work and, the organization contends, "the U.S. would save billions of dollars in lower healthcare costs."
Of those surveyed, 53 percent still favored setting stricter standards on gasoline, even after hearing opposing arguments that cars are already cleaner and charges that this proposal would cost families thousands of dollars and would increase the cost of gas nine cents per gallon.
Key poll findings include:
c 69 percent of voters favor EPA generally updating standards with stricter limits on air pollution;
c A 2-to-1 majority (62 to 32 percent) support the EPA setting stricter standards on gasoline and tightening limits on tailpipe emissions from new vehicles; and
c Only 17 percent of voters believe the EPA is exceeding its legal mandate to ensure air quality.
By a 2-to-1 ratio, voters still view the EPA and the Clean Air Act very positively, the ALA survey found.
Meanwhile, feelings toward Congress have declined even further, especially among Democrats and independents. The association pointed out that, according to recent surveys, just 18 percent of voters nationally give Congress a favorable rating, while 64 percent rate Congress unfavorably.
"There is a remarkable cross-partisan consensus on nearly every question" in the ALA survey, said Andrew Baumann, vice president at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. "Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans all support EPA taking action to ensure cleaner air—including on gasoline and vehicles."
Lori Weigel, a partner with Public Opinion Strategies, said "voters not only give an initial thumbs up to further strengthening standards for the gas they put in their cars—but significantly, this proposal retains majority support even after a no holds barred simulation of the debate which could occur in the public arena."
The ALA said the margin of error for the full survey sample is +/- 3.5 percentage points.
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association's mission is "to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease," doing that, it said, through research, education and advocacy.