The American Public's Energy Choice

Daedalus 141(2): 61-71, 2012

Posted: 26 Dec 2015

See all articles by Stephen Ansolabehere

Stephen Ansolabehere

Harvard University - Department of Government

David Konisky

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA)

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

Public opinion about energy can be understood in a unified framework. First, people evaluate key attributes of energy sources, particularly a fuel’s cost and environmental harms. Americans, for example, view coal as relatively inexpensive but harmful, natural gas as less harmful but more expensive, and wind as inexpensive and not harmful. Second, people place different weights on the economic and environmental attributes associated with energy production, which helps explain why some fuels are more popular than others. Americans’ attitudes toward energy are driven more by beliefs about environmental harms than by perceived economic costs. In addition, attitudes about energy sources are largely unrelated to views about global warming. These findings suggest that a politically palatable way to reduce green- house gas emissions is through regulation of traditional pollutants associated with fossil fuels, rather than a wholly new carbon policy.

Keywords: public opinion, energy, climate change

Suggested Citation

Ansolabehere, Stephen and Konisky, David, The American Public's Energy Choice (2012). Daedalus 141(2): 61-71, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2708166

Stephen Ansolabehere

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

David Konisky (Contact Author)

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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