It comes as no surprise: Americans overwhelmingly want clean air. We’re very pleased to see that our friends at the American Lung Association have concluded that 75 percent of American voters support the Environmental Protection Agency and their efforts to clean up smog pollution. The ALA released the results of a nationwide, bipartisan poll today that shows Americans really do want clean air and don’t believe that cleaning up smog pollution will impede economic recovery. Actually, most believe that clean air will create more jobs as a result fo clean air technologies and innovation.
The EPA has signaled plans to finalize smog limits in late July that could prevent up to 12,000 premature deaths, 2.5 million missed school or work days, 21,000 hospital and emergency room visits and 58,000 asthma attacks. The rule was to be finalized last year, but delays and attacks by polluters well-versed in spreading misinformation and inflammatory remarks pushed the EPA to hold off on protecting the public. If the opinion of Americans means anything, the agency will move swiftly to finalize the smog standard as they promised.
The American Lung Association’s poll found that:
- 75 percent of voters support the EPA setting stricter limits on smog
- 65 percent of voters say that stricter standards on air pollution will not damage our economic recovery
- 54 percent believe that updates to the smog standard are likely to create more jobs, not fewer
- 66 percent of voters think the EPA should set pollution standards, not Congress
- Support for updating the smog standards is widespread: Targeted polling among voters in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Virginia found support for the EPA setting stricter limits on air pollution
Every five years, the EPA is required to review the science around air standards for smog, fine particle pollution and a few other dangerous air pollutants. In 2006, the Bush administration ignored the recommendations of its own scientists and adopted a weak smog standard that failed to truly protect public health. The Obama EPA is reconsidering that Bush plan.
But some members of Congress, likely acting on behalf of big polluter lobbyists, are searching for any way to block the stronger, more protective EPA standard. From riders on spending legislation to misguided hearings, these members won’t rest until EPA plans are scuttled and public health remains at risk. The Lung Association poll results hopefully will be the shot in the arm for the EPA to recognize that a small vocal minority should not impede the wishes of the majority for clean air.