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JUNE 7, 1999  11:06 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
American Lung Association
Diane Maple or Paul Billings, 202-785-3355
info@lungusa.org
Voters Demand SUVs Meet the Same Strict Air Pollution Standards as Cars, Says New American Lung Association Poll
 
WASHINGTON - June 7 - American voters strongly favor requiring car companies to make sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and minivans meet strict air pollution standards. Nearly nine out of ten voters (88 percent) agree that car companies should be required to make these vehicles meet the same strict air pollution standards as passenger cars. Seventy-six percent strongly agree with the idea.

The survey also reveals that voters overwhelmingly support cleaner gasoline nationwide. A vast majority of voters also are willing to pay the up to 2 cents more per gallon of cleaner gasoline that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates it will cost.

The survey results were released as the U.S. EPA begins conducting public hearings on proposed new clean gasoline and clean car standards. The new standards cover sport utility vehicles, minivans and pickup trucks. Hearings will be held June 9 and 10 in Philadelphia, June 11 in Atlanta, June 15 in Denver and June 17 in Cleveland.

"American voters overwhelmingly support the EPA clean air proposal," said Ernest P. Franck, president of the American Lung Association. "The survey shows strong public support for fairness. SUVs should have to follow the same air pollution rules as passenger cars. The public is demanding that EPA close the loophole that allows SUVs to pollute more."

Franck noted that the auto industry is pushing to continue special SUV loopholes to avoid or postpone air pollution clean up. In addition, much of the oil industry opposes strong national clean gasoline standards and wants to allow dirtier, higher-sulfur gasoline, especially in the West

"We have already experienced smog problems this summer, demonstrating that dirty air remains a national health problem, requiring national solutions," Franck said.

Pollster Celinda Lake, who conducted the survey, noted, "Even owners of SUVs and minivans agree their vehicles should meet the same strict standards as passenger cars (85 percent agree, including 69 percent strongly agree, for SUV owners; 83 percent agree, including 70 percent strongly agree for minivan owners). Nine out of ten women (92 percent) also support SUVs meeting strict standards."

Franck noted that removing most of the sulfur from gasoline is critical because it will make the operation of cars and other vehicles much cleaner because sulfur impedes the performance of pollution control equipment. EPA experts predict the cleanup could cost oil companies 1 to 2 cents per gallon.

The Lung Association survey found that 83 percent of respondents are willing to pay up to 2 cents more per gallon of gasoline if it would produce significantly less pollution. A majority of voters (51 percent) are willing to pay up to 5 cents more per gallon for cleaner gasoline.

American voters reject oil industry proposal for a regional gasoline program," Franck added. "Eighty four percent of voters believe cleaner gasoline is needed across the country because it makes the air cleaner everywhere. Only nine percent believe cleaner gasoline should only be required in the Eastern half of the country and in California."

Lake noted that support crosses regional boundaries with support strongest in the South and Northeast (87 percent and 86 percent respectively) followed closely by the Midwest and West (83 percent and 81 percent respectively).

The findings are based on a nationwide poll of 800 adults, 18 years of age or older, who are registered to vote, conducted between May 20-24, 1999, by Lake Snell Perry & Associates. The margin of error is plus/minus 3.5 percent.

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The American Lung Association has been fighting lung disease for more than 90 years. With the generous support of the public and the help of our volunteers, we have seen many advances against lung disease. However, our work is not finished. As we look forward to our second century, we will continue to strive to make breathing easier for everyone. Along with our medical section, the American Thoracic Society, we provide programs of education, community service, advocacy and research. The American Lung Association's activities are supported by donations to Christmas Seals and other voluntary contributions. You may obtain additional information via our America Online site, keyword: ALA, or our web site at http://www.lungusa.org.

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