WASHINGTON, DC, October 17, 2013 (ENS) – In a public opinion poll released today, almost two-thirds of Americans said they opposed the near shutdown of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the 16 day-long government shutdown that ended today, and they want the agency’s 15,000 furloughed employees back on the job.

The shutdown occurred when House Republicans refused to fund the government in protest over the Affordable Care Act, usually called Obamacare, which took effect on October 1.

The poll, commissioned by the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council and conducted by the firm Public Policy Polling, surveyed 825 Americans over the Columbus Day weekend, October 11-12. It covered five key states – Iowa, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia – and five congressional districts that are represented by Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner.

Republicans

House Speaker John Boehner front row, center, with House Republicans, September 20, 2013 (Photo by Caleb Smith courtesy Office of the Speaker)

Boehner prolonged the government shutdown by refusing to bring up for a vote in the House legislation that would have ended it sooner.

In Ohio’s 8th congressional district, held by Boehner since 1990, the survey found:

* 58 percent oppose the EPA being prevented from doing its job because of the shutdown.
* Nearly two-thirds oppose a shutdown that suspends cleanup of hazardous waste sites, delays work on carbon pollution standards, and furloughs 90 percent of EPA’s workforce.
* 52 percent think the EPA is doing about the right amount or not enough to protect health and the environment.
* 64 percent would feel less favorable toward a politician who says it is good for the EPA to be closed.

Tom Jensen, director of PPP said, “Americans want the EPA to be able to do its job of keeping our air and water clean. They don’t have a very charitable view of politicians standing in the way of the EPA doing its work, and they want the shutdown to end so that EPA can get back to core functions like cleaning up hazardous chemicals and developing carbon pollution limits.”

Sixty-nine percent of all those surveyed said they opposed statements from politicians who had said the EPA should remain closed even if other agencies reopened.

Republicans recently posted a blog on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Minority website listing 10 reasons why the closure of the EPA means that the shutdown “isn’t all that bad.”

But the PPP survey found that 70 percent of respondents said they would look less favorably on a politician who said it is good the EPA was closed during the shutdown, indicating those Senate Republicans are out of sync with their constituents.

“Americans count on the EPA to protect our air, water and health,” said David Goldston, director of government affairs for Natural Resources Defense Council, NRDC. “The House extremists who virtually shut down this vital work were way out of step with the American people. The public understands that the EPA is a needed guardian of our environment and health. They expect protection from pollution – and they wanted our environmental guardians back on the job.”

Nationally, 65 percent of respondents said they “oppose the EPA being prevented from doing its work because of the shutdown.” The same percentage oppose a government shutdown that interferes with EPA’s work to develop the nation’s first standards limiting heat-trapping carbon pollution from power plants.

Seven in 10 respondents said they are opposed to EPA inspectors being forced off the job and suspending the cleanup of toxic dumps because of the shutdown.

Six in 10 think the EPA is doing the right amount or not enough to protect public health and the environment.

This weekend’s survey showed how strongly Latinos rejected the government shutdown generally, and it highlighted that Latinos strongly opposed the effect of the shutdown on the work of the EPA.

Among Latinos, the survey found:

* 73 percent oppose the government shutdown keeping EPA inspectors off the job and 73 percent oppose suspending the EPA’s work to clean up hazardous chemicals from abandoned industrial sites.
* 68 percent oppose a government shutdown that interferes with the EPA developing carbon pollution limits for the nation’s power plants.
* 68 percent say the EPA is doing enough or should do more to protect health and the environment.

“Latinos favor EPA policies that protect the environment, reduce air pollution and prevent climate change – and they oppose EPA workers and inspectors being prevented from doing their job even more strongly than the public as a whole does,” said Adrianna Quintero of Voces Verdes. “These findings are consistent with prior surveys showing overwhelming Latino support for conservation efforts and climate action.”

In the five states where the survey was conducted, no less than 61 percent and no more than 75 of respondents said they opposed the shutdown that suspended the work of the EPA. Across the board, no fewer than 52 percent view the EPA as doing the right amount, or not enough to protect public health and the environment.

PPP said the survey results came in with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

“As House Republicans decide their strategy for dealing with the new fiscal deadlines, they should know that most Americans want the EPA at work,” said Goldston today. “They don’t like shutdowns; they don’t like EPA prevented from doing its job, and they don’t like politicians who criticize the EPA. The once-moderate Republicans who caved to the Tea Party this time around should especially take note.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2013. All rights reserved.

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