Policy Update

NCEL Monthly Messenger: What Influences Public Support for Renewable Energy?



NCEL Point of Contact

Ava Gallo
Climate and Energy Program Manager

Level of Mining and Extraction in a County Can Impact Support For Renewable Energy

Overwhelming majorities of Americans support more solar panel farms (89%) and more wind turbine farms (85%). So what are the factors that impact if people support or oppose renewable energy?

Study: A new study has found that people’s opinion on renewable energy could be influenced by their proximity to mining or natural gas extraction sites. The study used eight years of national polling data and overlaid it with country-level mining, oil, and gas production data.

Findings: The research found that people who lived in counties with high mining or natural gas extraction were less likely to support renewable energy. This could be due to the cultural identity of those with a history of mining and extraction, or that renewables could be seen as a threat to the local economy.

What are the implications of this study? The study shows that there is a need to clearly address the concern over the declining fossil fuels industry. This includes diversifying local economies while also recognizing an area’s history. Making a clear economic case for a transition to renewable energy can also help to increase public support.