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Air activists and public rally behind EPA

June 17, 1999
Web posted at: 5:22 p.m. EDT (2122 GMT)


Part of the problem is high-sulfur gasoline, according to the groups.   

So who does John Q. Public want setting clean air health standards?

Congress? Nope.

Courts? Nope.

The Environmental Protection Agency? Yep, according to a public opinion survey conducted for the American Lung Association and released Wednesday in Washington.

The announcement of the survey results served to kick off a counter-attack by major health and environmental groups against a May 14 federal appeals court ruling that set aside EPA's health standards for smog and soot. The survey also found that voters overwhelmingly support stricter clean air health standards.

Paul G. Billings of the American Lung Association predicted that the ruling would be overturned on appeal. Meanwhile, he noted that dirty air remains a "clear and present danger for millions of Americans."

Organizations participating in the clean air campaign include the American Lung Association, Clean Air Network, Clean Air Trust, Environmental Defense Fund, National Environmental Trust, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

"We support EPA Administrator Carol Browner's effort to vigorously appeal this wrong-headed court decision," said Steve Cochran of the Environmental Defense Fund. "The public health and environmental community stand firmly behind her. And so do the American people."

The national survey found that 86 percent of voters favor stricter clean air health standards. Nearly eight of 10 voters trust the EPA to set the standards.

The summer of 1999 is already showing high smog levels. The official beginning of summer is still a week away, and more than 25 states have reported that they have exceeded the ozone standard, said Jayne Mardock of the Clean Air Network. Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia have had more than a week of dirty air days, she said.

"The problem is caused by big polluting sport utility vehicles, high sulfur gasoline, coal-burning electric power plants and dirty diesel trucks," said Rebecca Stanfield of U.S. Public Interest Research Group. "Together with hundreds of state and local organizations, we will work to clean up these polluters to make our air safe to breathe."

The poll shows:

  • Voters strongly favor stricter clean air health standards. More than eight out of 10 voters (86 percent) favor stricter standards, including 58 percent who strongly favor. Only 10 percent oppose stricter standards.

  • Voters would like to see standards set at strict levels that would protect the health of children with asthma and senior citizens. A third of voters say the levels should be strict enough to protect the health of an average person (32 percent). Nearly two-thirds of voters think community air pollution standards should be set at even stricter levels to protect the health of children with asthma and senior citizens (64 percent).

  • Voters place their trust in EPA to set health based air quality standards. Seventy-seven percent trust the EPA, including 32 percent who trust it a great deal. Congress and the courts follow at a distance (51 percent trust including 8 percent trust a great deal for Congress and 56 percent trust, 11 percent a great deal for the courts). Voters are least trusting of the oil or trucking industries to set these standards (32 percent and 35 percent trust respectively).

  • Voters overwhelmingly place their trust in the American Lung Association when it comes to information on air pollution. Ninety percent of voters trust the American Lung Association, including 59 percent who trust it a great deal. Doctors (85 percent trust, including 38 percent a great deal) and the EPA (79 percent, 35 percent a great deal) round out the top three. Voters place the least amount of trust in information provided by the Big Three auto makers (50 percent, 7 percent a great deal), the National Association of Manufacturers (45 percent, 6 percent) and oil companies (32 percent, 6 percent).
These findings are based on a nationwide poll among 800 adults, 18 years of age or older, who are registered to vote. The poll was conducted May 20-24 by Lake, Snell, Perry & Associates. The margin of error for this survey is plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved

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American Lung Association
The Clean Air Network
Natural Resources Defense Council
Environmental Defense Fund
The Sierra Club
National Environmental Trust
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
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