Image: Sudika via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA
I've used just about all of the blog-powers vested in me to make this point: Americans want the government to protect them from pollution. They just do. Last year, a poll found that 77% of Americans wanted Congress to let the EPA do its job -- and that was after a bevy of politicians started calling the agency a 'job-killer', saying it 'strangled the economy', etc. Well, even after a full year of being bombarded with those talking points, the American public's not buying it. To this day, the vast majority -- even Republicans -- still overwhelmingly supports the EPA, a new poll finds.Hell, even 62% of registered Republican voters are still greatly in favor of allowing the EPA to go ahead with new rules that would clamp down on toxic emissions and air pollution. Too bad the politicians that represent them don't recognize that view.
The Ceres poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates and the GS Strategy Group, focuses on public attitudes toward the EPA in general, and then on two proposed rules that would would prevent different kinds of pollution. Those are the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule (MACT). The former would protect people from power plant pollution that is liable to drift across state lines, and the later clamps down on toxic pollutants and mercury emissions. As such, it's not much of a surprise that everyone's pretty on board with both.
- 88% of Democrats, 85% of Independents, and 58% of Republicans oppose Congress stopping the EPA from enacting new limits on air pollution from electric power plants.
- 67% of voters support the CSAPR and 77% of voters support the Toxics rule.
- 65% of voters surveyed are confident that the health and environmental benefits of air pollution standards outweigh the costs of complying with them.
- 79% of voters agree that the rules are important to enact for health reasons.
- 75% of voters believe a compelling reason to implement these rules is the boost to local economies and thousands of new jobs that will be created from investments in new technology
Them's some interesting figures. The poll reveals that a majority of Republicans actively oppose exactly what their leaders are trying to do in Congress right now -- shutting down pollution rules that protect public health. And 4 out of 5 people recognize that these rules will go a long way towards improving public health. Most interestingly, perhaps, is that a majority (correctly) believes that the economic benefits of reducing pollution outweigh the costs of doing so -- and that building, upgrading, and installing the new, cleaner equipment will create, not destroy, jobs.
And then, of course, there's this (via Ceres): "This poll found that support for the EPA air pollution rules extends across the political spectrum. By three to one (75%) the public believes that the EPA, not Congress, should determine whether stricter limits are needed on air pollution from electric power plants. This is a view supported by members of all parties, with 85% of Democrats, 62% of Republicans, and 79% of Independents in agreement."
You don't say. Americans still want the EPA to clamp down on polluting corporations, even after Fox News, beltway politicians, and conservative pundits have tried to maneuver the agency into a role as public enemy #1. Looks like people are a little smarter than they thought. Unfortunately, new info like this is unlikely to change the political chess game in Washington -- pols aren't really concerned with meeting the demands of a majority consensus of voters anymore, just the majority of campaign contributors.
This gaping disconnect between voter desires and DC action is exactly why we're seeing protests like the Occupy Wall Street movement spring up -- politicians are increasingly catering their decision-making to please a wealthy elite (and that wealthy elite happens to own the power plants and factories that would have to clean up their acts), and the voice of the average citizen is rendered impotent.