New Poll: Public Wants Stricter Soot Standard

(November 29, 2012)

American voters support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) setting stronger fine particle (soot) standards to protect public health. That's the clear message from a new national poll conducted for the American Lung Association. This information comes at a critical time since the December 14 deadline for the EPA to issue updated soot health standards is rapidly approaching.

The American Lung Association polling results reveal public views on updating the standards and whether or not this is the right time to issue them. The poll results show 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 poll respondents heard balanced messages on both sides of the debate.

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."

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.

Key poll findings include:

  • 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 in the Northeastern part of the country favor the proposal. Six-out-of-10 voters in the Southern, Central and Western regions also show 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. Sixty percent of white voters also support the effort to strengthen soot standards.

The full survey, along with results analysis from the polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research can be found here.

Until December 14, the American Lung Association is urging the public to send an email to President Obama asking that he direct EPA to set a soot health standard that will protect the public from this dangerous pollutant.