Most Americans support Obama’s clean car rules — poll

Source: Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans support maintaining Obama-era fuel economy standards, according to poll results released today.

About 79 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of Republicans support keeping the standards, according to the poll, commissioned by the American Lung Association and conducted by the Democratic-affiliated firm Global Strategy Group.

The poll results come as U.S. EPA faces an April 1 deadline for publicly deciding whether to weaken the rules for tailpipe emissions from cars and light-duty trucks made from 2022 to 2025.

The agency has already sent a draft decision to relax the rules to the White House Office of Management and Budget, according to sources familiar with the matter (Climatewire, March 26).

“Vehicles remain one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, so a reversal of these important standards would pose a grave threat to the health of Americans,” American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold Wimmer said in a statement.

After poll respondents read arguments from both sides of the debate, overall support increased from 65 percent to 67 percent, and the percentage of respondents who said they “strongly” supported keeping the standards in place rose from 48 percent to 51 percent.

The argument for maintaining the rules stated: “Some people say it’s critical that we leave cleaner air and a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren, and making cars more fuel efficient reduces harmful pollution. Keeping these ambitious but achievable standards will fight climate change and lead to fewer bad air days, and healthier children.”

The argument for relaxing the rules: “Other people say that forcing automakers to meet these unrealistic requirements will not only add thousands of dollars to the price of new cars and trucks, but will also force automakers to produce much lighter vehicles, which are less safe for drivers and their passengers, putting our families at greater risk of injury or death in the case of an accident.”

Global Strategy Group conducted the telephone survey of 800 registered voters nationwide March 13 to 15. The error margin was 3.5 percentage points.

Andrew Baumann, the firm’s senior vice president of research, said, “After voters heard arguments about the strong health benefits of maintaining the standards, and despite hearing counterarguments raising cost and safety claims, voters’ support for the standards held and even intensified.”

The poll also examined other EPA climate regulations. Around 65 percent of Americans are broadly favorable toward the Clean Air Act, and around 61 percent of Americans support EPA’s efforts to enforce stricter limits on air pollution.