Americans Strongly Favor Limits on Methane and Toxic Air Pollution to Protect Health

Registered voters overwhelmingly support newly proposed standards to cut emissions of methane and other toxic chemicals from the oil and gas industry, according to a new poll released today by the American Lung Association. The new data from a nationwide survey found that 67 percent of registered voters support the new standards, compared to just 27 percent who oppose the proposal.

The findings come just days before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will host public hearings in Dallas, Denver and Pittsburgh on the proposal to rein in emissions of methane and other toxic chemicals from the oil and gas industry. These emissions are linked to climate change and can also contribute to ozone pollution.

“Air pollution from the oil and gas industry threatens health,” said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “Nothing is more personal than health, and we are not surprised by the strong public support for enforceable limits on dangerous air pollution.”  

In August, EPA proposed standards to limit methane pollution and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from new and modified oil and gas sources. The proposal, when implemented, will reduce an estimated 340,000 to 400,000 short tons of methane and reduce 170,000 to 180,000 tons of ozone-forming VOCs, along with 1,900 to 2,500 tons of air toxics (such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene).

The oil and gas industry has already begun a campaign to fight the new standards, maintaining that the industry can voluntarily cut methane emissions on its own.

“When voters hear balanced messages on both sides of the debate, they continue to support the need for strong limits on methane pollution,” said Missy Egelsky, Vice President at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. “Voters reject voluntary action even with the discussion of strong economic consequences—higher energy prices and job losses—included as part of industry’s argument.”

Instead, according to Egelsky, voters favor the health argument, which states that we need scientists at EPA to set enforceable methane pollution standards to protect the health of Americans.

Key poll findings include:

  • Two-thirds of voters favor EPA placing tougher standards on methane and other toxic pollution from the oil and gas industry.
  • Voters across partisan lines support stronger limits on methane pollution, including:
    • 86% of Democrats, 72% of Independents and 47% of Republicans support strong limits. By comparison, 46% of Republicans oppose.
  • Voters’ support for strong limits shows up nationwide. At least 65% of voters in every region of the country favor stricter methane standards.
  • Support for the methane standard also spans across gender and age, with men and women and older and younger voters all supporting stricter standards.
  • Voters strongly side with the need for regulation of methane pollution as opposed to voluntary action by oil and gas companies (61% to 34%).

 The analysis memo and poll questions from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research can be found online.

 Methodology:  This survey was conducted for the American Lung Association by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research during August 20 - 23, 2015. The firm conducted a survey of 871 registered voters via live interviews, with 50 percent of respondents reached on a cell phone. The margin of error for the full national sample is 3.32 percent.

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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