New Poll: Public Wants More Protection from Gasoline and Vehicle Emissions

(January 30, 2013)

An overwhelming majority of American voters supports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) setting stricter standards on gasoline and tighter emissions limits for cars, SUVs and trucks to protect public health. That's the takeaway from a new bipartisan national poll conducted for the American Lung Association.

Nearly two-thirds of the 800 registered 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.

Pollution from cars 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. In addition, by keeping people healthier, families would miss fewer days at work and the U.S. would save billions of dollars in lower health care costs.

"Voters clearly want clean air," said Paul G. Billings, senior vice president of the American Lung Association. "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."

This survey finds voter support of stronger air pollution standards reaches across partisan, gender, racial, and geographic lines. Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans all support EPA taking action to ensure cleaner air – including on gasoline and vehicles.

After a balanced debate with messages in support of and opposition to stricter standards on gasoline—including a discussion on the potential economic impacts of the proposal—a majority of Americans (53 percent) continue to support stricter standards.

Key poll findings include:

  • 69 percent of voters favor EPA generally updating standards with stricter limits on air pollution.
  • A 2-to-1 majority (62 to 32 percent) support EPA setting stricter standards on gasoline and tightening limits on tailpipe emissions from new vehicles.
  • Only 17 percent of voters believe 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. Meanwhile, feelings toward Congress have declined even further, especially among Democrats and independents. Just 18 percent of voters nationally give Congress a favorable rating, while 64 percent rate Congress unfavorably.

The full survey, along with results analysis from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies can be found here.