During the 16-day federal government shutdown, clueless GOP staffers posted a top 10 list of “Reasons The Government Shutdown Isn’t All Bad” on a Senate website. The list mostly celebrated the fact that the EPA’s work was crippled by the budget spat.
“Fewer bureaucrats at the EPA makes it less likely that they’ll make up science on new regulations,” was among the witticisms listed on the blog post. The post then rattled off fantastical agency scandals that sounded cribbed from a fossil fuel industry dream journal.
But polling commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council over the Columbus Day weekend revealed that EPA bashing is unlikely to win much public sympathy for the Republicans. The vast majority of people polled were bummed out that fighting in Washington had prevented the EPA from doing its job.
In Virginia, where the environment is routinely trampled by mining companies and power plant owners, 68 percent of people polled [PDF] said they opposed the furloughing of EPA inspectors. Nationally, 71 percent [PDF] were in opposition. From an NRDC blog post:
The public broadly backs environmental protection — 60 percent of Americans think the EPA is doing just the right amount or not enough to protect the environment — but an even greater percentage of Americans opposed EPA being shut down. That phenomenon also carried through in Speaker Boehner’s own district, where 52 percent think EPA is doing just the right amount or not enough, while 58 percent oppose it being shut down. Even more oppose an EPA shutdown when reminded of specific EPA responsibilities.
That includes EPA’s responsibility to address climate change. 65 percent of Americans are opposed to a shutdown that “interferes with [EPA] developing carbon pollution limits.” This sentiment holds firmly across every state and district we examined. It’s even higher in Maine and North Carolina where 70 percent of respondents opposed this interference. Even in John Boehner’s district, 62 percent of constituents are opposed to the interference.
This poll should also be a warning to once-moderate House Republicans who have thrown in their lot with the Tea Party radicals. Take for example, Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey, who waffled on the shutdown. In his district, 63 percent of constituents oppose the shutdown and almost the same amount — 62 percent — opposed EPA being shuttered. Even a majority of Republicans in Lance’s district opposed EPA being shut down.
More highlights from the national poll: