skip to main content

→ Top Stories:
Fracking
Safe Chemicals
Defending the Clean Air Act

Scott Slesinger’s Blog

Memo to Shutdown Fans: Americans Really Like EPA Protecting Our Air, Water and Health; and Dis Pols Who Don't

Scott Slesinger

Posted October 18, 2013 in Health and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

Tags:
, , ,
Share | | |

During this month, we have blogged on the impact of the shutdown on the environmental and health services that taxpayers pay for, and expect from, their government.  The comments from our readers on the switchboard website and the NRDC Facebook page has been overwhelmingly opposed to the shutdown and the impact on the Environmental Protection Agency and its sister agencies.  Today I want to share a poll commissioned by NRDC that found overwhelming opposition to the way the government shutdown was preventing EPA from doing its job.  Nationally, 65 percent “oppose the EPA being prevented from doing its work because of the government shutdown.”  Even in Speaker Boehner’s own Congressional district, (a district Mitt Romney carried with 61 percent of the vote) 58 percent oppose the impact the shutdown is having on EPA. 

pete altman graph for scott blog.png.gif
(chart credit, Pete Altman, NRDC)

Not surprisingly, then, the public takes a dim view of elected officials who attack EPA.  Nationally, 70 percent of Americans say they would feel “less favorable” about an elected official who said it was “a good thing for the EPA to be closed.”  Even 64 percent of Speaker Boehner’s constituents shared that sentiment.  

As in other areas of policy, the shutdown is opposed even by those with doubts about federal programs.  The public broadly backs environmental protection: 60 percent of Americans think the EPA is doing just the right amount or not enough to protect the environment – but an even greater percentage of Americans oppose EPA being shut down.  That phenomenon also carries through in Speaker Boehner’s own district, where 52 percent think EPA is doing just the right amount or not enough, while 58 percent oppose it being shut down.  Even more oppose an EPA shutdown when reminded of specific EPA responsibilities.

The unpopularity of attempts to cripple or defund EPA is amazing when you look at the Republican agenda to cripple and defund EPA.  Last Congress, the House voted 317 times –yes, not a typo, 317 times--to neuter EPA. Besides cutting its budget by 23 percent since 2010, Congress voted to gut the Clean Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and virtually every other law that protects the public and improves our environment.  And even though they tried to attack the President for the shutdown of the national parks --- the shutdown they voted for—they even voted to elevate mining over other uses of our parks.

When the original debt ceiling bill was put together, the Republicans who are controlling the House wanted to go into default unless the bill included anti-environmental riders that include giving the Department of Energy a veto over EPA rules; requiring drilling off the coast of  Virginia, South Carolina and California;  and granting automatic approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.      

This poll should also be a warning to once-moderate House Republicans who have thrown in their lot with the Tea Party radicals including their shutdown strategy and their anti-environmental screeds.  Take, for example, Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey, who has waffled on the shutdown.  In his district, 63 percent of constituents oppose the shutdown and almost the same amount – 62 percent – opposes EPA being shuttered.  Even a majority of Republicans in Lance’s district oppose EPA being shut down.  His League of Conservation environmental voting tracks the views of the Tea Party, not those of his district.


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for LCV graph for scott blog.png

(credit: League of Conservation Voters)

At a time when we keep hearing about how polarized the country is, it’s important to remember that there is a broad majority opinion against what the Tea Party and Speaker Boehner have needlessly and destructively done over the past weeks.  Most Americans wanted the government reopened, most Americans support the work of the EPA, and most Americans want EPA to be able to get back to work.  That’s true nationally, that’s true in Speaker Boehner’s district, that’s true in the districts of weak-kneed moderate Republicans. It’s time to let the government work for all the people and the environment.

The next step is a conference of House and Senate members to work out a budget plan so the government doesn’t close, again, on January 15, 2014.  Despite the majority of members of the House supporting the budget deal, only one of the Republican conference members voted for the final deal.  It is hard to see this as a promising sign for a budget agreement that is balanced, ends the harmful sequester, and addresses our real deficit issues.

This is the end of these series of blogs – hopefully not to return in January.

See NRDC’s press release on the poll here: http://www.nrdc.org/media/2013/131017.asp

And the poll results here: http://docs.nrdc.org/legislation/leg_13101601.asp

Share | | |

Comments

Michael BerndtsonOct 18 2013 05:04 PM

Didn't one of the rating agencies estimate the shutdown took $24 billion off the economy? The EPA's FY 2013 budget was set at about $8 billion. I think they'll end up spending less than $7 billion. The house wants to cut EPA FY 2014 to $5.5 billion. This is sick. And it's making us sick, literally and figuratively. Traditionally about 50 to 60 percent of EPA's budget went directly to States and municipalities for water and wastewater treatment plant construction capital projects. This isn't policy wonks living large. It's for concrete and clarifiers. Chiefly, the grants are for rural areas. I guess when most of an areas population has meth teeth, who needs fluoridation and activated sludge?

http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/2013/07/22/house-appropriations-to-mark-up-bill-to-slash-epa-budget-by-34/

James Singmaster, III, Ph.D.Oct 21 2013 01:34 AM

Only one action can save the future for our kids, WE HAVE TO MAKE THE SUN OUR SOLE ENERGY=POWER SOURCE!! Readers should challenge NRDC to get this action going. I have posted past comments on Switchboard and elsewhere about how to achieve this action to eliminate all need for fossil and nuclear energy. If we get our all energy-power from the sun, we can avoid many problems in the Middle East and can tell the frackers to go frack themselves.
WHY?????? can't environmental groups start campaign to get attention to MAKING THE SUN OUR SOLE ENERGY-POWER SOURCE???????????????

Comments are closed for this post.

About

Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

Feeds: Scott Slesinger’s blog

Feeds: Stay Plugged In