Poll finds Americans oppose efforts to delay EPA emissions rules

A strong majority of American voters oppose delaying upcoming Environmental Protection Agency rules for reducing toxic emissions from power plants as Republicans in Congress have sought to do, a new poll found.

Sixty-seven percent of voters said they think EPA’s upcoming rules “definitely” or “probably” shouldn’t be delayed, with the remaining 33 percent saying they should be delayed, the poll conducted by Ceres, a coalition of investors, environmental groups and public interest groups, found.

When broken down by party, 51 percent of Republicans polled said they oppose delaying the rules, along with 61 percent of independents and 84 percent of Democrats.

“Although some in Congress oppose these rules, the level of support from Republican voters is surprisingly strong,” said Greg Strimple, a Republican pollster with GS Strategy Group who conducted the research. “The research clearly demonstrates Republican voters are willing to support new rules to reduce harmful emissions in order to improve public health.”

The release of the poll comes not long after the Republican-controlled House passed a bill to delay EPA’s upcoming Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and Utility MACT rule by several years and require the agency to weaken them before reissuing them. The poll was conducted in late August early September, before the bill was passed.

The poll found 67 percent of voters support the cross-state rule, which requires power plants in 27 states to reduce emissions that can create smog and soot in downwind states. Texas and Dallas-based Luminant Generation Co. have sued to block the rule, which Gov. Rick Perry has called  “heavy-handed and misguided.” EPA has rebuffed concerns from Texas officials that some power plants could shut down because of the rule.

Additionally, 77 percent of voters support the MACT rule that would require power plants to install technologies to reduce toxic emissions such as mercury. A coalition of states and utilities have sued EPA and asked a federal court to delay when the agency can issue a final rule. EPA’s current deadline is Nov. 16 under a consent decree with environmental and public health groups.

“It’s not unreasonable for the EPA to take more time to address our concerns about the job-killing impact of this proposed emissions framework,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who is leading the lawsuit that includes Texas.