Survey: Americans Say "No" to Attacks on Pollution Safeguards, Gingrich Plan to Dismantle EPA

Americans Pick Health of Families Over More Pollution From Corporations: 77 Percent of Americans -- Including 61 Percent of Republicans -- Say: "Congress Should Let the EPA Do Its Job."

WASHINGTON (February 2, 2011) -- 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). The new poll is being released today as a major House/Senate bill is introduced in Congress to kill the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to continue its work on updating key anti-pollution safeguards.

Conducted in response to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s call on January 25th to dismantle the EPA, the 1,007-person survey also finds that more than two out of three Americans (67 percent) -- including 61 percent of Republicans -- oppose any such move to abolish the EPA.  

“The bottom line is clear: Democrats, Republicans and Independents want politicians to protect the health of America’s children rather than the profit-driven agenda of big polluters” saidPete Altman, Climate Campaign director, Natural Resources Defense Council. “People get that the EPA is dedicated to protecting public health and want Congress to let the agency do its job.”

“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,” said Health Care Without Harm’s Climate Policy Coordinator Brenda Afzal, MS, RN. “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.”

“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 project manager, ORC International. “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.”

The health stakes for Americans in the future of the EPA and its current work to update pollution safeguards are high. On January 27, 2011, NRDC joined with Health Care Without Harm to emphasize that more than 24 million Americans with asthma, including over 7 million children, are at increased risk of adverse health consequences if the members of the House and Senate seeking to block the EPA from updating the Clean Air Act are successful in doing so.

Over 120 House members and 18 Senators have cosponsored one or more pieces of legislation intended to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from reducing pollution from industrial plants and other sources. By blocking the EPA, the lawmakers would be allowing polluters to continue emitting unlimited amounts of carbon dioxide pollution and unsafe amounts other pollutants. The lawmakers collectively have received over $38,000,000 from polluters, many of which have made stopping the EPA a high priority. (For more information on the House members, see For information on the Senate members, see

Key findings from the new ORC International survey for NRDC include the following:

  • 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.
  • Support is weak for a new “Gingrich EPA” replacement agency.  Gingrich’s proposal that EPA be “replaced by an agency that would place equal consideration for corporate interests as it does for protecting American families against air and water pollution” is supported by fewer than two out of five Americans (39 percent).  

Full survey results are available online at

This ORC International survey conducted for NRDC presents the findings of a telephone poll conducted among a national probability sample of 1,007 adults comprising 500 men and 507 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. Interviewing for the ORC International survey was completed during the period January 27-30, 2011.  The margin of error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: A streaming audio replay of the news event is available at