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New Poll: Voters Overwhelmingly Support Stricter Limits on Smog

American Lung Association calls on Administration to reverse proposed changes to weaken the standards that protect health of all Americans

Today, the American Lung Association released new poll results showing that voters overwhelmingly support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcing stricter limits on air pollution, including the updated standards for ozone, often called smog, adopted in 2015. The poll results come as the Trump Administration is proposing that EPA dramatically weaken the implementation of air pollution health standards.

Three-quarters of voters support EPA enforcing these stricter limits on smog—with a majority of all respondents strongly supporting. In every demographic group polled, more voters supported than opposed enforcement of the standards. Ozone pollution can cause shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage and even premature death.

Even after hearing a balanced debate, including strong arguments that reflect the language being used by opponents of the standards, two-thirds of voters support implementing the more protective standards.

"This poll affirms once again that Americans know smog harms their health and want EPA to clean it up," said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer. "The American Lung Association is deeply concerned that a new Presidential memo directs EPA to make changes that will result in less ozone cleanup and weaker public health protections. These proposed changes are inconsistent with the Clean Air Act, would threaten health and are wildly out of step with the American people’s desire for healthy air."

EPA has an April 30 deadline to identify areas where ozone pollution exceeds the health-based limit, which is the first step to begin to implement the more protective standards. States then have three years to develop and begin to implement cleanup plans. The deadline follows a court order resulting from a lawsuit that the American Lung Association and other groups brought to challenge EPA's failure to meet the Clean Air Act’s October 1, 2017 deadline.

Earlier this month, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum directing EPA to change how air pollution health standards are set and implemented. The memorandum signals changes that will result in less ozone cleanup now and will make it harder to set future air quality standards that protect public health. The Clean Air Act requires that standards for ozone and other harmful air pollutants be based solely on what the science says is healthy for humans to breathe, with an adequate margin of safety.

Administered by Global Strategy Group, the poll also found that voters nationwide support EPA enforcing stronger health protections against air pollution and are overwhelmingly favorable to clean air policies.

Key findings from the poll include: 

  • 75 percent of voters support EPA enforcing its updated stricter limits on smog, with a notable 56 percent of all voters strongly supporting.
  • Support for stricter limits on smog outweighs opposition among Democrats, Republicans, and independent voters alike. Nearly all Democrats support enforcing the stricter limits (94% support/4% oppose), independent voters support enforcing the limits by more than five-to-one (77% support/15% oppose), and more Republicans support (49%) than oppose (39%) enforcing the limits.
  • After hearing arguments from both sides of the debate, not only do two-thirds of voters express support (66%), nearly half of voters still express strong support for enforcing these stricter standards. 
  • Voters nationwide are broadly favorable toward the Clean Air Act (65%) and EPA (59%), as well as EPA’s efforts to enforce stricter limits on air pollution (74% support, including 48% strongly support).

"An overwhelming, cross-partisan majority of voters in every region across the country voiced support for enforcing these limits," said Andrew Baumann, senior vice president of research at Global Strategy Group.

The Lung Association will continue to ensure that communities across the country have accurate information about the quality of the air they're breathing, and that the cleanup process proceeds without delay to protect the most at risk.

The analysis memo from Global Strategy Group can be found online: http://www.lung.org/assets/documents/healthy-air/poll-results-smog.pdf

Methodology:

Global Strategy Group conducted a telephone survey from March 13 to 15, 2018 among 800 registered voters nationwide. The margin of error is +/- 3.5% at the 95% confidence level and the margin of error for subgroups is greater.

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
312-801-7628
[email protected]

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