Poll: Voters trust EPA over Congress

Almost two-thirds of voters in three presidential battleground states — Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania — want the Environmental Protection Agency to set greenhouse gas standards for industrial facilities, according to a green group's poll released ahead of Senate votes on whether to strip EPA’s authority.

The poll released Monday was commissioned by the League of Conservation Voters and is part of a wider political battle over climate rules — one that’s perilous for Democrats facing potentially tough reelection battles next year in those states and others.

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“Three in five (63%) voters in the three Midwestern states say they trust the EPA more than Congress to decide whether there should be new standards for carbon pollution,” states a summary of the poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates.

It notes that roughly the same percentage — 64 percent — support EPA setting new standards that limit carbon pollution from power plants and other industrial facilities.

“By large margins, voters of all political parties trust the EPA more than they trust Congress. Democrats trust the EPA over Congress by 77% to 11%, independent voters do so by 63% to 12%, and Republicans by 48% to 28%,” adds the memo by Democratic pollster Geoff Garin.

The Senate is slated to vote this week on a GOP amendment to small-business legislation that would nullify EPA’s authority, as well as less aggressive Democratic amendments to limit EPA while preserving its power to impose emissions rules.

One of those measures, sponsored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), would delay EPA rules for two years. Voters in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania don’t like that plan either, according to the poll, which finds that 62 percent say Congress should not block EPA for two years, while 31 percent support such action.

Several Democrats in the three states could face tough reelection battles next year. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) opposes the GOP plan to strip EPA’s authority, but has signaled his concern with EPA’s rules and recently left the door open to backing the Rockefeller measure.

His seat is in the “lean Democratic” column, according to The Hill’s race ratings. Two other Senate Democrats from the three states polled — Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.) — hold seats that are likely to remain in Democratic hands, according to The Hill’s ratings.

The poll of 1,501 voters was conducted between Feb. 18 and 22, according to Hart Research Associates.

Protecting EPA’s authority is a top priority for green groups following the collapse of climate legislation in the Senate last year.

“What this poll demonstrates is that the public trusts the EPA to do its job to protect public health and limit dangerous pollution and does not want Congress to stand in the way of necessary safeguards,” said League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski in statement. “Americans want scientists at the EPA, not politicians in Congress, to determine air pollution limits."