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Americans Oppose Upton and Gingrich-style Attacks on Pollution Safeguards

Pete Altman

Posted February 2, 2011

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There has been a lot of talk - and bills - from politicians who think that the EPA shouldn't be allowed to do its job of protecting our health from air pollution. Last week, Newt Gingrich proposed eliminating the EPA and putting in its place a bureaucracy that would cater to polluters. Some in Congress want to eliminate the EPA's ability to update Clean Air Act standards in order to reduce life-threatening pollution like carbon dioxide, soot, smog and toxic pollution.

And today, one of the more anticipated bills is supposed to make its appearance: The Hill reports today that House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton will unveil a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency from limiting life-threatenting carbon pollution.

Thing is, Americans just don't support the Gingrich - Upton agenda. Public opinion polling released today by the Opinion Research Corporation finds that Americans don't want to eliminate the EPA as Gingrich suggests, nor do they want Congress to stop it from doing its job of protecting public health, as Chairman Upton and others want to do.

Health professionals take such proposals seriously. As Health Care Without Harm’s Climate Policy Coordinator Brenda Afzal, MS, RN, says:

“Chairman Upton’s bill, which is expected to block the Environmental Protection Agency  from updating the Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution, puts our nation’s health at risk. Leading health organizations and experts consider carbon dioxide pollution to be a wide-ranging threat to public health, which contributes to the same air pollution problems that worsen asthma and other chronic respiratory illnesses that affect  millions of Americans and children. Our health should not suffer so that members of Congress can put corporate profits ahead of the public’s health.”

Here's the bottom line:

More than three out of four Americans (77 percent) – including a clear majority of Republicans (61 percent) – oppose efforts in Congress to block Clean Air Act updates for carbon, smog and other pollution, according to a national opinion survey by Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) International for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

You can find the full report here. And here are some more details:

  • Americans want the EPA to do more, not less.  Almost two thirds of Americans (63 percent) say “the EPA needs to do more to hold polluters accountable and protect the air and water,” versus under a third (29 percent) who think the EPA already “does too much and places too many costly restrictions on businesses and individuals.”  Well under half of Republicans (44 percent), less than a third of Independents (29 percent) and under a fifth of Democrats (16 percent) think the EPA is going too far today.

  • Americans do not want Congress to kill the EPA’s anti-pollution updates.   Only 18 percent of Americans – including fewer than a third of Republicans (32 percent) -- believe that “Congress should block the EPA from updating pollution safeguards,” after being told:  “Some members of Congress are proposing to block the Environmental Protection Agency from updating safeguards to protect our health from dangerous air pollution, saying they will cost businesses too much money.”  By contrast, more than three out of four Americans (77 percent) -- including 61 percent of Republicans – say  “Congress (should) let the EPA do its job.”

  • The vast majority of Republicans – and all Americans – oppose the Newt Gingrich plan to dismantle the EPA.   Overall, only 25 percent of Americans agree with Newt Gingrich’s call to eliminate the EPA.  More than two out of three Americans (67 percent) oppose abolishing the EPA, including half (49 percent) who strongly oppose it.    Among those opposing the Gingrich plan:  61 percent of Republicans, 57 percent of Independents, and 79 percent of Democrats.

You can get the full news release and other materials here.

UPDATE: Apparently Gingrich's group American Solutions for Winning the Future was worried enough about today's press conference that they responded during our news conference to release the data. Kudos to them on speed. But I'd be embarrassed if it was me trying to respond to hard data with nothing more than wet noodles - as Mother Jones' Kate Sheppard points out,

"Not to be outdone, Gingrich's group American Solutions for Winning the Future released its own polling data in the midst of the NRDC's call with reporters. There was just one problem. Its data was from a 2007 survey that asked vague questions about whether America can have both economic growth and environmental protection, and whether innovation is a good thing. Not a single question dealt with extinguishing the EPA."

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Paul HaasFeb 2 2011 08:40 PM

I am amazed at the sharp right turn that Fred has made over the past few years. I presume that it's to get the choice jobs in Washington and perhaps to prevent a challenge here in Southwest Michigan. He has not to my knowledge voiced any reasoning behind his steady move from center to the right. I can only view it as a lack of integrity. Personally, after voting for him in each election through 2000, I have switched.

John O'ConnellFeb 5 2011 01:52 PM

Please sign this bill to keep the EPA and all that it stands for.

christina boccamaiello-hugginsFeb 5 2011 01:56 PM

with birds falling out of the sky, dead, and fish washing up on the shore; also dead, I find this movement to eliminate the EPA completely insane. I am not the only one who suspects that the poison you use to kill wolves made this happen. I am also vehemently opposed to killing these creatures ;whether by a dangerous poison in which the people using it obviouslly have no idea what they are doing or shooting them from a helicopter which seems to be a beloved sport of Sarah Palin's. I'm not willing to go back to the 70's in which there was at least 10 years with no butterflies, fireflies, or birds due to DDT and whatever other deadly poison routinely used at the time. I am discusted with Congress and this is an obscene travesty. I can only believe that both sides are being handsomely compensated to scrap the EPA. Please save the EPA.

Yours truly,
Christina Boccamaiello-Huggins

Colin PiperFeb 5 2011 01:57 PM

WE need to save whats left of our environmental heritage. We need to stop squandering our heritage for immediate gain and put something in the bank for Americas future.

colman alenickFeb 5 2011 02:18 PM


Dorothea CappadonaFeb 5 2011 03:00 PM

Obamacare needs to be improved. Add a public option and a single payer option!

Ekhard MahlFeb 5 2011 04:52 PM

Hands off the EPA, and let it do its job. Also hands off the Clean Air Act and get away from dirty fossil fuels.

Shirley ReineckeFeb 5 2011 05:16 PM

We need to stop selling off the USA to the highest bidder. The greed from the oil and coal companies is legendary. We love our country,keep those that don't--out. the EPA should have more power, not less.

ricardo pascualFeb 5 2011 05:18 PM

clean up and keep our planet clean!

ricardo pascualFeb 5 2011 05:24 PM

If you want to see something beautiful, riveting and poignant, and another very good reason to clean the planet fast, check out the movie HOME by Yann Arthus Bertrand narrated by Glen Close. It is free on google/you tube. Definetly 5 + stars!
I heard the interview with Yann Arthus Bertrand on Lenard Lopate show on today, it too is worth listening to.

Stephen CrossFeb 5 2011 05:32 PM

The EPA must be endorsed, encouraged, AND empowered to continue the few protections of our natural resources! Mankind has destroyed far too many of the Earth's resources---and we POSITIVELY, ABSOLUTELY, HEROICALLY must stop further destruction. Otherwise, humanity is committing suicide!!

Barbara OuttersonFeb 5 2011 05:36 PM

Please sign this bill; we need it and so do our grandchildren.

marianna cariniFeb 5 2011 08:02 PM

gingrich's hot air continues to pollute!

Maxene PosmanFeb 5 2011 08:07 PM

I am loathe to believe that Gingrich is really so malicious that he would be in concert with big business and other forces that only focus on profits, not on the general well-being of the planet and people. However it is hard to find evidence to the contrary. You should be ashamed of yourslelf Mr. Gingrich!

Roy SpantonFeb 6 2011 12:37 AM

Our government is given the power by the constitution of the USA to enact legislation to take care off the common good. Thus, realizing that there must be safeguards for the wellbeing of the masses over the wants of money and power (i.e., people of extreme wealth and large corporations, etc.). These safeguards are there to equalize the wants of the few over those institutions/individuals of enomous power and influence over those who do not have the ability to defend themselves. So, any intrusion or weakening of the EPA could have deleterious consequences.

Helen StarkFeb 6 2011 06:09 PM

I have long been worried about the policies of
Gingrich's politics but now I am certain they are bad. Mr. Gingrich, whose welfare are you trying to protect? Obviously, it is not the American people or their grandchildren. You are the reason I no longer vote for the republican agenda. SHAME ON YOU.

Roxanne LankfordFeb 6 2011 06:15 PM

gingrich's hot air continues to pollute!

Michael LernerFeb 7 2011 01:08 PM

I want the environment to be protected, even if it means higher prices, higher taxes, or some other sacrifice on my part.

Laurie SmylaFeb 7 2011 01:49 PM

Americans want a cleaner Country for their children and grand children. The only ones to benefit from elimination of the EPA are amoral corporate polluters!

cicely buckleyFeb 7 2011 03:01 PM

Please add my support to those concerned with
the protection of the environment, with higher
taxes and support of the EPA and its principles.

DAVID SEEBERTFeb 7 2011 04:30 PM


Alfred McInturffFeb 7 2011 10:21 PM

Rather than weaken the ERA it should be strengthened. Because of such power it would then have, It should have open hearings to hear the scientific data requiring enforcement. and then openly debate thr restrictions, prohibitions, and /or actions required, We have not been good stewards of our little planet and we need ro make amends or we shall be self extingushed and or our future generations thanks to our greed.

Barbara WilsonFeb 10 2011 02:10 PM

support epa 100%

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