Instead of lowering the soot limit to 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air — down from 15 — the White House told EPA to keep the range between 12 and 13 micrograms per cubic meter.
Republicans labeled it a political move designed to improve President Obama’s reelection chances. GOP lawmakers have said harsher air pollution rules would burden industry and raise costs on taxpayers, contending that would slow an economic recovery.
Environmentalists also criticized the White House, arguing it was interfering with science-based EPA assessments for political gain.
The American Lung Association poll showed backing for the rules weakened when respondents were presented with arguments that base opposition for the rules on the economy and support on health.
While most voters still preferred instituting the rules, the amount of voters who strongly favored the standards dropped by 5 percent, to 34 percent, when presented with arguments from both sides of the debate. Those who strongly opposed the rules jumped to 26 percent, up from 20 percent.
Still, Peter Iwanowicz, assistant vice president with the American Lung Association, said the results showed the economic argument is not enough to sway voters against imposing the rules.
“The public also does not buy the arguments being made by big polluters and their allies in Congress that this is not the right time to update soot standards and that doing so would be bad for the economy. They believe we can have clean air and a robust economy,” he said in a Thursday statement.
The rules had less support from Republican respondents, with 48 percent backing the regulations. Eighty-one percent of Democrats support the standards, along with 57 percent of independents.
The limits also were more popular amongst Hispanic and black respondents. Seventy-three percent of Hispanic and 68 percent of black voters favored the rules, compared with 60 percent of white voters.
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted the survey from Nov. 14-18. It has a 3.19 percentage point margin of error.