Although climate change is often politicized, a new poll from the American Lung Association shows that clean air is important to everyone, regardless of what side of the aisle they stand on.
The bipartisan poll of 800 registered voters shows that most people—across gender, racial, geographic, and political party lines—favor stricter air pollution standards from the EPA. It also shows that voters feel good about the EPA and the Clean Air Act.
With all of the pushback against global warming and the protection of big industry, sometimes it can feel like such regulations will never happen. But the American Lung Association poll is a sign that more and more, people are coming around to the need for stronger environmental protections. In fact, the poll shows that 62% of voters support stricter emissions standards on gasoline and vehicles.
Another study shows that making these kinds of changes to emissions standards could pay huge dividends for the environment. The report from the National Research Council finds that by the year 2050, the U.S. could reduce petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 80% for cars and small trucks through a combination of more efficient vehicles, alternative fuels, and strong government policies.
However, it will take more than wishy-washy policies to achieve such drastic reductions in emissions and petroleum consumption. In fact, the National Research Council says the proposed fuel economy standards for 2025 won’t be enough. What’s really needed is investment in research and development, more efficient vehicles, alternative energy sources, ever-increasing fuel economy standards, and educating the public about new fuels.
The public education part of these findings might be especially important. The American Lung Association survey presented people with a balanced argument and counter-argument for stricter fuel standards. Even after hearing that the standards would "cost American families thousands of dollars" a strong majority of people were still in favor of them. Hopefully that means that even though the economy is still weaker than it should be, even though families are still struggling, at the end of the day, people care more about the health of themselves and their planet than the bottom line.
Photo: United Nations Photo