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New Poll Shows the Public Wants EPA to Set Stricter Soot Health Standards

Voters Support Setting Stronger Fine Particle Standards to Protect Public Health

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the December 14, 2012, deadline approaches for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue updated health standards for fine particle pollution (soot), the American Lung Association is releasing polling results that examine public views on updating the standards and whether now is the right time to issue them.

Earlier this year EPA finally proposed updated clean air standards that will prevent thousands of premature deaths and take steps toward clearing hazy air. The EPA's proposal came in response to legal action filed on behalf of the American Lung Association and the National Parks Conservation Association by Earthjustice.

A new national survey of 942 registered voters conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for the American Lung Association finds that American voters support a proposal to strengthen air pollution standards by placing stricter limits on the amount of soot released from industrial facilities by a better than 2-1 margin. Support for the plan is both broad and deep, crossing partisan, gender, racial, and geographic lines; the proposal maintains strong majority support even after hearing balanced messages on both sides of the debate.

At the outset, 62 percent of voters favor the proposal, compared to just 30 percent who oppose it, and 7 percent who are undecided.  Nearly 4-out-of-10 voters (39 percent) strongly favor the standards, while only 20 percent express strong opposition.

After a balanced debate with messages in support of and opposition to the stricter standards on soot released by industrial facilities—including a discussion on the economic and health impacts of the proposal—a majority of Americans continue to support the plan by a large 20-point margin, 56 – 36 percent.

"This poll affirms that the public is sick of soot and wants EPA to set more protective standards," said Peter Iwanowicz, American Lung Association Assistant Vice President. "The public also does not buy the arguments being made by big polluters and their allies in Congress that this is not the right time to update soot standards and that doing so would be bad for the economy.  They believe we can have clean air and a robust economy."

Key poll findings include:

  • An overwhelming 81 percent of Democrats favor the proposal, as well as 57 percent of independents; even a plurality of Republicans (48 percent) back the plan.
  • Voters in every region of the country express strong support for the plan.  Nearly three quarters of voters (72 percent) in the Northeastern part of the country favor the proposal, with support from 6-out-of-10 voters in the Southern (60 percent support), Central (59 percent support), and Western regions (61 percent support).
  • Solid majorities of both men (59 percent) and women (65 percent) support the plan.
  • African American and Latino voters express high levels of support, with 68 and 73 percent, respectively, who favor the plan.  Sixty percent of white voters also support the effort to strengthen soot standards.

"The survey clearly indicates that Americans strongly back the EPA taking action now to limit the amount of soot released by oil refineries, power plants, and other industrial facilities," said Missy Egelsky, Vice President at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. "In fact, voters overwhelmingly believe that stronger safeguards against air pollution provide reasonable, common sense changes that will protect Americans' health from the harmful effects of soot."

The full survey, along with slides and a memo from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research can be found here.

Methodology: These findings are based on a national survey of 942 registered voters conducted for the American Lung Association by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, November 14-18, 2012.  The margin of error for results is +/-3.19 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence interval.

About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lung.org.

About Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner is a global leader in public opinion research and strategic consulting. GQR helps elect progressive candidates in the U.S. and around the world, helps NGOs advance their issues, and helps companies understand their reputations and key audiences.

SOURCE The American Lung Association

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