Shelton QuickPulse: EPA Confidence Poll

Topline Findings

Consumer Awareness/Name Recognition

We screened participants in the survey by asking them to choose who Scott Pruitt is: the new head of the EPA, the former head of ExxonMobil, or the head of the National Security Agency who was recently forced to step down. Only 400 out of 1,320 consumers (30%) correctly named Scott Pruitt as the new head of EPA.

Impact on Perceptions of the EPA

“Pruitt’s appointment negatively impacts trust in the EPA for facts about the environment and climate:

  • 84% of Shelton newsletter respondents said they have trusted the EPA in the past for facts about the environment and climate. But now that Pruitt is head of the agency, only 22% said they will trust the EPA for facts.
  • Likewise, 51% of consumers said that they had previously trusted the EPA, and now only 32% will continue to trust the agency for facts about the environment and climate.

Specific Concerns Expressed

When Shelton newsletter readers were asked in an open-ended question, “What (if anything) are you most concerned about Scott Pruitt doing?” 226 provided responses:

  • 5 thought it’s too early to judge and want to wait and see.
  • 17 (8%) offered positively oriented comments:
    • 9 are looking forward to the opportunity that Scott Pruitt has been given to reassess EPA’s regulatory activities.
    • 4 said they have no real concerns:
      • “No concerns. My hope is people allow him and his team to dig in, develop and execute programs in conjunction with NGOs and associations.”
      • “I relish the opportunity for a new leader to reassess all of the regulatory activity and determine not only the legal basis for the actions, but the impact on American society.”
      • “I think he should be given an opportunity for him to prove his worth. If it becomes apparent he was the wrong pick, select another.”
  • 92% expressed concern/negative reactions:
    • Three of the top 4 concerns expressed were primarily about repealing previous laws, destroying previous environmental stewardship and/or dismantling the EPA and other agencies:
      • Repealing important laws like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act (27%)
        • “Rolling back regulations that have already been successfully implemented and accepted by businesses, such that re-creating them later will be difficult, maybe impossible, and different enough from previous versions that businesses will have to adapt to them all over again. Getting rid of the Energy Star for Homes program. Reduced messaging on climate change.”
      • Destroying previous environmental stewardship (13%)
        • “Dismantling regulations and mandates relating to a cleaner, safer environment. Propagating false information. Setting back U.S. progress relating to the environment, energy, water, etc.”
      • Dismantling EPA and/or rolling back important agencies (12%)
        • “I’m afraid he will emasculate the EPA so that it will only do the minimum required by law. In my worst nightmare, he eliminates the EPA.”
    • 15% were concerned that government research would be limited and information released by the EPA would be controlled:
      • “Pruitt is likely to edit data and white papers from scientists if they don’t agree with his ideology. Pruitt will smother factual data, cherry pick other data to build a pseudoscientific argument to support his ideology. Pruitt will likely break his oath and the law without being charged. This will only serve to embolden him to commit more crimes against the U.S. without consequences. The only saving grace are the good people still doing good work at the EPA despite Pruitt’s reckless and unlawful actions.”
    • 11% were concerned about Pruitt working for the benefit of oil and major corporations:
      • “Relaxing regulations so the oil and gas companies can resume past practices that the EPA found to be damaging to the environment.”

Consumers were asked the same question: “What (if anything) are you most concerned about Scott Pruitt doing?” Again, the 400 open-end verbatim responses were primarily negative:

  • 3% (12 people) had specific positively oriented responses:
    • “I think he’ll do a good job … it will only take time for him to settle in.”
  • 21% said they had no concerns.
  • 16% said they didn’t know enough about EPA and/or Scott Pruitt or had no comment.
  • The remaining 60% of consumers expressed worry or concerns:
    • Specifically, 20% are concerned that his policies will harm the overall environmental health of the planet or that current environmental protection policies will be hampered.
      • “There is certainly something to be said about the way Scott Pruitt talks about the environment. We need people who fundamentally believe and advocate for global climate change. Not only in our country, but across the world. This is not an American effort. It is a global effort, and I don’t think Scott Pruitt is up to that challenge of global teamwork.”
    • Other concerns voiced by consumers include trust issues, not supporting factual evidence, allowing governmental interference and support of big corporations.
      • “Not doing the job he was selected for with honesty, integrity and a will to serve the best interests of the public.”
      • “Rolling back environmental regulations for industries, being on the side of big oil and big business over environmental concerns, promoting drilling on protected land.”

Shifts in Information Source Reliance

Both consumers and Shelton newsletter readers say they will now look primarily to NGOs for protecting the environment and addressing climate change:

  • Shelton newsletter respondents said they would rely on: NGOs (78%), state or local government (66%), and EPA (31%) tied with industry associations (31%)
  • Consumers will rely on: NGOs (54%), EPA (34%) and state or local government (29%)

Newsletter readers who said they would rely on NGOs would look to the Natural Resources Defense Council (68%) followed by Environmental Defense Fund (55%).

  • Consumers would rely primarily on WWF (65%), Environmental Defense Fund (40%) and The Nature Conservancy (39%).


A sample of U.S. consumers (n=400) were surveyed using the Pollfish survey platform to gather online feedback via a laptop/desktop or mobile app or smartphone. Respondents were selected automatically from users of more than 10,000 apps.

Demographically, respondents were split equally between men and women and four age categories: 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54 and 55+. Education and income levels closely match that of U.S. census. Geographically, there were slightly more Midwestern and slightly fewer Western region respondents, compared to overall U.S. population distribution. Politically, 35% of respondents identified with the Democratic party, 26% with the Republican party, and 39% either as Independent or with some other party. The latest Gallup poll from January 2017, in comparison, reports 25% identified as Democrats, 28% as Republicans and 44% as Independents.

Shelton Insights newsletter readers, who are primarily business sustainability, energy, and built environment professionals, were also invited to participate in the survey via email, with 315 completing the survey.

Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Courtnay Hamachek

VP Operations

Courtnay oversees our day-to-day operations to keep us running smoothly and support our growth. She establishes project management systems and processes to help our teams anticipate bottlenecks, prevent process issues, and keep projects on time and on target. Courtnay has built extensive experience over 25 years in all aspects of marketing, from account services and project management to design and production.

Aaron Crecy

Digital Marketing Director

Aaron is responsible for planning, executing and measuring digital marketing strategies for Shelton Group and our clients, with an emphasis on inbound, content, SEO, social media, email and paid initiatives. He constantly researches and explores new tactics and strategies to improve digital campaign performance and results.

Aaron brings to the table more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience with premium consumer-facing brands. He came to Shelton Group by way of Malibu Boats, where, as Director of Global Marketing, he oversaw strategic marketing planning and execution for multiple product lines, with specific emphasis on social media and digital. Prior to that, he served as CMO for a leading daily fantasy sports operator, guiding it from startup to the industry’s third-ranked site.

Scot Case

Senior Consultant

A sustainability strategy consultant since 1993, Scot has served as non-profit leader, as a partner in an environmental marketing firm that he grew and sold, and as an executive in a multi-billion-dollar, international company. He has published dozens of articles and case studies, was co-author of the original “Sins of Greenwashing” study, testified before Congress, and been quoted on NPR, Good Morning America, CNN, The New York Times, Business Week, and the Wall Street Journal. Scot was also highlighted in an Emmy award-winning documentary on sustainable purchasing.

Casey Ward

VP Account Services

Casey manages our relationships, growth and development with a specific group of clients that includes Environmental Defense Fund, Cotton LEADS and CertainTeed Insulation. She provides leadership and support for the account team members who manage the day-to-day processes for these clients. She contributes to strategic direction for each client and guides our creative efforts to ensure everything we do builds toward meeting – or exceeding – the client’s goals. Her ability to simultaneously see the big picture and pay close attention to the details helps her champion her clients’ needs and identify new growth opportunities for them.