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. US Public's View Of Energy Sources, Preferences and Environmental Issues Assessed

Close to two-thirds of respondents oppose the idea of locating a carbon capture and sequestration facility (an underground site that contains carbon dioxide gas extracted from coal) within 25 miles of their residences, and 75% oppose construction of either a coal-burning power plant or nuclear power plant nearby.
by Staff Writers
Menlo Park CA (SPX) Jul 31, 2007
While only two percent of the public indicates that energy is the most important problem facing the U.S. today, the results of a new MIT study based on data from Knowledge Networks offer a compelling snapshot of the public's declining satisfaction with oil for energy, as well as an openness toward alternative energy sources. Study findings highlight viewpoints on coal, dams, natural gas, nuclear power, oil, solar and wind.

From February 23 to March 4, 2007, a random sample of 1,200 online respondents took the same survey that Knowledge Networks administered for MIT in 2002 using a similar sampling methodology. Both studies were conducted on KnowledgePanel(SM) -- the only available probability selected, nationally representative Internet panel.

The general opinion of the U.S. public is:

+ 63% favor somewhat/much stronger environmental regulations
+ 36% indicate global warming is the most important U.S. environmental problem
+ 43% say that some action should be taken on global warming

When asked how harmful they think each power source is, the following percentage of the public indicates that the source is "very harmful:"

+ Coal              29%
+ Dams               3%
+ Natural Gas        5%
+ Nuclear           37%
+ Oil               24%
+ Solar              2%
+ Wind               2%

In the most recent MIT survey, 74% of respondents say they want to decrease use of oil, whereas clear majorities would choose to increase use of solar and wind "a lot" -- a finding in line with 2002. However, when respondents are given purchase price information on solar and wind, their responses reveal diminished support for these energy sources.

Respondents also had reservations about some energy by-products. Close to two-thirds of respondents oppose the idea of locating a carbon capture and sequestration facility (an underground site that contains carbon dioxide gas extracted from coal) within 25 miles of their residences, and 75% oppose construction of either a coal-burning power plant or nuclear power plant nearby.

Perceived environmental harm has the largest effect on support for a given fuel type, especially for coal and nuclear power. However, despite growing public concern over climate change, one finding has not changed since 2002: only a remote connection exists in the public's mind between electricity generation and global warming.

The survey is part of the MIT Energy Initiative. A more extensive working paper is available at the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research and the MIT Public Opinion Research Training Lab.

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China To Step Up Energy Efficiency Drive
Beijing (AFP) Jul 28, 2007
China has announced plans to double spending on improving energy efficiency and slashing pollution, in an effort to combat its dismal environmental record. The government will spend an extra 10 billion yuan (1.33 billion US dollars) on reducing energy use and cutting pollution, according to a statement from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the state body responsible for economic planning.

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