By Tania Matsuoka, Center for Effective Government
American voters overwhelmingly support the federal Endangered Species Act and are much more likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports environmental protections like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, according to a recent poll released by the nonprofit Earthjustice. The poll surveyed 600 registered voters across the United States.
Voters also believe in a science-based approach to decision making when it comes to these safeguards. For example, more than 70 percent of voters surveyed said that scientists at federal agencies should work with the public to decide which animals and plants should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Just 18 percent believe this power should belong to Congress.
Americans strongly support public and environmental safeguards.
Critics of environmental protections – such as the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Air Act – make wildly misleading claims about their impacts on jobs and the economy. The American people aren’t fooled: the majority of voters from all political parties surveyed in this poll rejected those arguments. Instead, they firmly believe that creating jobs and protecting wildlife and the environment can be done at the same time.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Voters have consistently and overwhelmingly expressed their support for strong standards, and they want to see effective enforcement of rules on clean air, clean water, and the safety of food and drugs. A poll released in 2014 showed that 89 percent of Democrats, 85 percent of Republicans, and 87 percent of Independents agree that we need increased enforcement of laws and regulations. Americans understand that enforcing public safeguards prevents deadly disasters, keeps their families safe, and protects the environment for generations to come.
Voters say lawmakers should let agencies do their job.
Voters are sending a clear message to Congress: environmental protections are hugely popular, and federal agencies should be free to do their job of implementing the laws that Congress passes.
But are legislative leaders listening? Just last week, the House of Representatives considered a serious funding cut for several natural resources agencies, and conservative members have floated a raft of anti-environmental policy provisions that would jeopardize our health and protections for endangered species. House leadership has temporarily pulled the bill from the floor over an unrelated issue.
“What we are witnessing in Congress today is a full-fledged attack on our bedrock environmental laws – the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife in a statement. Big business interests are spearheading these attacks, and some legislators are ignoring the views of their constituents in supporting these damaging policies.
Supporting environmental protections is common sense, and Americans across the political spectrum agree that these safeguards are vital to our well-being and our quality of life. Some members of Congress are pushing back against those colleagues who are following the lead of polluting and extractive industries. They should continue to fight the good fight knowing that the American people have their backs.