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Most Americans Oppose Restrictions on EPA, Poll Finds

Three out of four of those surveyed, including 61% of the Republicans, say "Congress should let the EPA do its job," according to a new poll by NRDC

Elizabeth McGowan

Feb 7, 2011

WASHINGTON—Anti-regulatory legislators might be thumping their chests about their newest ambitious attempts to halt the in its tracks.

But are Americans willing to support such efforts to block Clean Air Act updates for heat-trapping greenhouse gases, smog and other pollution?

In a word, no.

At least that's the answer that the received after surveying 1,007 residents nationwide. More than 75 percent of the respondents oppose congressional efforts to limit the EPA's authority to enforce the Clean Air Act. That figure included a majority of the self-identified Republicans answering .

"The poll findings reflect strong bipartisan support both for the EPA in general and also for it playing a vigorous role in relation to fighting air pollution," said Graham Hueber, senior policy manager for , which conducted the poll. "There is no evidence in this survey to suggest that Americans have any appetite for dismantling an agency that they see as protecting the health of themselves and their families."

What Prompted the Poll

With initiatives to curb greenhouse gas emissions mostly stalled at the legislative level, EPA-bashing has become common practice for Republicans and some conservative Democrats on Capitol Hill.

And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — who appears to be trying to burnish his credentials among conservatives while contemplating a 2012 try for the presidency on the Republican ticket — amplified the argument with his talk last month of replacing the EPA with what he calls a more business-friendly "Environmental Solutions Agency."

"The new ESA will be a successor agency to the EPA, incorporating the statutory responsibilities of the old EPA while making necessary statutory changes that will eliminate the job-killing regulatory abuses and power grabs of the old EPA," Gingrich wrote on .

Gingrich's comments prompted NRDC to conduct the poll. Survey results reveal that 67 percent of the respondents, including 61 percent of Republicans, oppose such a move to abolish the EPA. Only one-quarter of those surveyed are on board with Gingrich's plan.

"The bottom line is clear," said Pete Altman, NRDC's climate campaign director. "Democrats, Republicans and independents want politicians to protect the health of America's children rather than the profit-driven agenda of big polluters. People ... want Congress to let the agency do its job."

NRDC research shows that as of Jan. 25, 123 representatives from 35 states and 18 senators from 12 states have co-sponsored at least one piece of legislation designed to prevent the EPA from slicing pollution emitted from industrial plants and other sources.

Other Survey Results

A sampling of three other findings from the January survey reveals that:

Good to hear 75% of Americans

Good to hear 75% of Americans are smarter than Gingrich.

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