(Washington, D.C. June 8, 1999) -- The American public overwhelmingly supports tough new clean air controls for big diesel trucks, according to a national public opinion survey released today.

The survey, conducted for the Clean Air Trust, found that registered voters want big diesel vehicles to use the best available pollution control technology. Voters also support cleaner diesel fuel despite increased costs that could be passed on to consumers.

The survey was released as a coalition of state and local government and health and environmental groups called for the federal government to take tougher action to clean up big trucks, a major source of smog, soot and toxic air pollution. Tougher controls are being resisted by diesel engine makers, the petroleum industry and the trucking lobby.

The survey found that 90 percent of voters want big diesel vehicles to use the best available pollution control technology. , executive director of the Clean Air Trust, noted that today's truck standards "are so pitifully weak that most trucks do not use an available truck version of the catalytic converter used on automobiles." The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing standards for future trucks.

Respondents to the survey also overwhelmingly (61 percent to 21 percent) endorsed cleaner diesel fuel for big trucks even when told that could mean "higher costs" [which] will be passed onto consumers." O'Donnell noted that removing most of the sulfur from diesel fuel would enable advanced pollution control devices that could sharply reduce truck pollution.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued an "advanced notice" of its intent to crack down on diesel sulfur. O'Donnell noted that state and local clean-air regulators have joined environmental and health groups in calling for a "dramatic reduction in diesel sulfur" to promote advanced cleanup technology.

Seven of 10 survey respondents also said "18-wheelers and other big diesel vehicles" should be required to meet the same strict pollution standards as passenger cars. "This is a remarkable response -- and one that underscores intense public support for cleaner trucks -- when you consider that today's trucks may spew out the pollution equivalent of 150 cars," O'Donnell added.

In answer to other questions, survey respondents:

  • Overwhelmingly said (83 percent to 10 percent) diesel passenger vehicles should have to meet the same pollution standards as gasoline-powered vehicles.
  • Strongly opposed (59 percent to 20 percent) increased use of high-polluting diesel passenger vehicles in order to improve fuel economy.
  • Clearly believe (57 percent to 15 percent) that exhaust from diesel-fueled pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles is dirtier than exhaust from similar vehicles that use gasoline.

The survey of 800 adults, 18 years or older who are registered to vote, was conducted May 20-24, 1999, by Lake Snell Perry & Associates. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percent.