New Poll Shows Americans Strongly Opposed EPA Shutdown, Look Unfavorably on Those Who Put Our Health and Environment at Risk

Message for future budget battles:  Americans want EPA cleaning up air, water, toxic sites and power plant carbon pollution in national, Hispanic, IA, ME, MI, NC polling; Boehner in Ohio, Benishek in MI, Lance and LoBiondo in NJ, and Barletta in PA out of step with constituents

WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- During the 16 days House Republicans held the federal government hostage to their radical agenda, they put our environment and health at risk, and most Americans didn't like it. Almost two-thirds of Americans say they opposed the near shut-down of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and they want the EPA back on the job, according to a new PPP poll commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"Americans count on the EPA to protect our air, water and health," said David Goldston, director of government affairs for NRDC. "The House extremists who virtually shut down this vital work were way out of step with the American people. The public understands that the EPA is a needed guardian of our environment and health. They expect protection from pollution - and they wanted our environmental guardians back on the job."

While most Americans oppose the shutdown, even more don't like that furloughed EPA inspectors, suspended cleanup of toxic dumps, and delayed work on carbon pollution limits for power plants—the centerpiece of President Obama's climate action plan.

This is true nationally, among Latinos, in key states, in districts represented by once-moderate House Republicans who have changed their positions to support the Tea Party's agenda—and even in House Speaker John Boehner's home district.

"As House Republicans decide their strategy for dealing with the new fiscal deadlines, they should know that most Americans want the EPA at work," said Goldston. "They don't like shutdowns; they don't like EPA prevented from doing its job, and they don't like politicians who criticize the EPA.  The once-moderate Republicans who caved to the Tea Party this time around should especially take note."

Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed said they opposed statements from politicians who had said the EPA should remain closed even if other agencies reopened. 

There's also bad news for politicians who cheered that the EPA was closed by the shutdown. They are dramatically out of step with their constituents, the poll shows. Public opinion, furthermore, is solidly against the views of Republicans who recently posted blog on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee website calling the EPA's closure a sign the shutdown "isn't all that bad." Seventy percent of Americans said they would look less favorably on a politician who said it's good the EPA was closed during the shutdown.

Goldston offered his views during a telephone press conference today unveiling the poll findings, which surveyed 825 Americans over the Columbus Day weekend with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent. The poll, done for NRDC by Public Policy Polling, revealed similar views among Hispanic Americans, in statewide polling for five key states—Iowa, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia—and in five congressional districts that are represented by Republicans, including Boehner.

In the final deal approved by the House and Senate on October 16, all five House members representing those districts ended up voting for the bipartisan plan to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling.

Not only did this weekend's survey show how strongly Latinos rejected the government shutdown generally, it highlighted that Latinos strongly opposed the effect of the shutdown on the work of the EPA.

"Latinos favor EPA policies that protect the environment, reduce air pollution and prevent climate change—and they oppose EPA workers and inspectors being prevented from doing their job even more strongly than the public as a whole does," said Adrianna Quintero of Voces Verdes. "These findings are consistent with prior surveys showing overwhelming Latino support for conservation efforts and climate action."

Tom Jensen, director of PPP said: "Americans want the EPA to be able to do its job of keeping our air and water clean. They don't have a very charitable view of politicians standing in the way of the EPA doing its work, and they want the shutdown to end so that EPA can get back to core functions like cleaning up hazardous chemicals and developing carbon pollution limits."

Among highlights from the survey:

  • Nationally, 65 percent "oppose the EPA being prevented from doing its work because of the shutdown." Even in Boehner's own Ohio congressional district 58 percent oppose the shutdown's impact on the EPA.
  • 60 percent of Americans think the EPA is doing the right amount or not enough to protect our health and environment.
  • Seven in 10 Americans are opposed to EPA inspectors being forced off the job and suspending cleanup of toxic dumps because of the shutdown.
  • 65 percent of Americans oppose a government shutdown that interferes with EPA's work to develop standards limiting carbon pollution from power plants.

Among Latinos, the survey found:

  • 73 percent oppose the government shutdown keeping EPA inspectors off the job and 73 percent oppose suspending the EPA's work to clean up hazardous chemicals from abandoned industrial sites.
  • 68 percent oppose a government shutdown that interferes with the EPA developing carbon pollution limits for the nation's power plants.
  • 68 percent say the EPA is doing enough or should do more to protect health and the environment.

In Iowa the survey found:

  • 65 percent oppose both a government shutdown that furloughed more than 90 percent of EPA's staff and interfering with the EPA developing carbon pollution limits for the nation's power plants.
  • 69 percent oppose suspending cleanup of hazardous chemicals at abandoned industrial sites, which has occurred during the shutdown.
  • 66 percent disagree with the idea that the EPA should remain closed even if other agencies reopen, and 68 percent would view less favorably a politician who says it's a good thing the EPA is closed.

In Virginia, the survey found:

  • 61 percent oppose a shutdown that prevents EPA from doing its job.
  • 68 percent oppose a government shutdown keeping EPA inspectors off the job.
  • 71 percent don't support a shutdown that delays cleanup of hazardous chemicals from abandoned industrial sites and the same number view unfavorably a politician who says it's good the EPA is closed in the government shutdown.
  • 60 percent view the EPA as doing the right amount, or not enough to protect public health and the environment.

In Maine, the survey found:

  • 65 percent oppose the EPA being prevented from doing its job because of the shutdown.
  • About 7 in 10 residents oppose forcing EPA inspectors off the job; furloughing 90 percent of EPA staff and interfering with the agency developing the first limits on carbon pollution from power plants.
  • 69 percent don't agree with the idea of keeping the EPA to stay closed even if other agencies reopen.
  • 63 percent think that the EPA is doing the right amount or should do more to protect health and the environment.

In North Carolina, the survey found:

  • 64 percent oppose the EPA being prevented from doing its job because of the shutdown.
  • About or more than 7 in 10: oppose blocking the EPA under the shutdown from cleaning up hazardous waste sites; delaying work on carbon pollution standards, and keeping EPA inspectors off the job.
  • 65 percent think the EPA is doing about the right amount or should do more to protect health and the environment.
  • 74 percent feel unfavorable toward a politician who says it's good the EPA is closed.

In Michigan, the survey found:

  • 65 percent oppose the EPA being prevented from doing its job because of the shutdown.
  • About or nearly 7 in 10: oppose blocking the EPA under the shutdown from cleaning up hazardous waste sites; delaying work on carbon pollution standards, and keeping EPA inspectors off the job
  • 63 percent think the EPA is doing about the right amount or should do more to protect health and the environment.
  • 70 percent feel unfavorable toward a politician who says it's good the EPA is closed

In Ohio's 8th congressional district, represented by Speaker Boehner, the survey found:

  • 58 percent oppose the EPA being prevented from doing its job because of the shutdown.
  • Nearly two-thirds oppose a shutdown that: suspends cleanup of hazardous waste sites, delays work on carbon pollution standards, and furloughs 90 percent of EPA's workforce.
  • 52 percent think the EPA is doing about the right amount or not enough to protect health and the environment.
  • 64 percent would feel less favorable toward a politician who says it's good for the EPA to be closed.

In New Jersey's 7th District, represented by Republican Rep. Leonard Lance, the survey found:

  • 62 percent oppose the EPA being prevented from doing its job because of the shutdown
  • About two-thirds oppose a shutdown that: delays development of carbon pollution. standards, forces EPA inspectors off the job and suspends cleanup of hazardous chemicals at abandoned industrial sites.
  • 68 percent view unfavorably a politician who says it's good for the EPA to be closed.
  • 61 percent think that EPA is doing about the right amount or not enough to protect health and the environment.

In New Jersey's 2nd District, represented by Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo, the survey found:

  • 69 percent oppose the EPA being prevented from doing its job because of the shutdown.
  • More than two-thirds oppose a shutdown that: delays development of carbon pollution standards, forces EPA inspectors off the job and suspends cleanup of hazardous chemicals at abandoned industrial sites.
  • 72 percent view unfavorably a politician who says it's good for the EPA to be closed.
  • 64 percent think the EPA is doing about the right amount or not enough to protect health and the environment.

In Pennsylvania's 11th District, represented by Republican Rep. Lou Barletta, the survey found:

  • 64 percent oppose the EPA being prevented from doing its job because of the shutdown.
  • About 7 in 10 oppose a shutdown that: delays development of carbon pollution standards, forces EPA inspectors off the job and suspends cleanup of hazardous chemicals at abandoned industrial sites.
  • 71 percent view unfavorably a politician who says it's good for the EPA to be closed.
  • 59 percent think the EPA is doing about the right amount or not enough to protect health and the environment.

In Michigan's 1st District, represented by Republican Rep. Dan Benishek, the survey found:

  • 63 percent oppose the EPA being prevented from doing its job because of the shutdown
  • About two-thirds oppose a shutdown that: delays development of carbon pollution standards, forces EPA inspectors off the job and suspends cleanup of hazardous chemicals at abandoned industrial sites.
  • 68 percent view unfavorably a politician who says it's good for the EPA to be closed.
  • 57 percent think the EPA is doing about the right amount or not enough to protect health and the environment.

For detailed findings from the survey and for state and district breakouts, click here: http://docs.nrdc.org/legislation/leg_13101601.asp

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org  and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Public Policy Polling is a national survey research firm located in Raleigh, North Carolina.  It was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the most accurate polling companies in the country for its swing state polling in 2012. Following the 2012 Presidential election, a Fordham University report ranked PPP first among 28 organizations for the accuracy of its final, national pre-election estimates.

SOURCE Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington, D.C.




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