Energy issues are notoriously vexing when it comes to new development. Americans say they support new wind farms and drilling for natural gas, and they often voice support for drilling for oil (when it happens some other place). The 2011 Saint Index results show energy development will remain contentious.
The nuclear plant emergencies in Japan clearly soured what had been softening American attitudes about a nuclear power plant project, with 75 percent opposition in the new results — compared to 65 percent who would oppose a nuclear project in 2008.
The wind energy industry most definitely suffers from the NIMBY curse. Americans express strong support for a local wind farm project, but active opposition is common when a specific proposal is made. Even more difficulty could be ahead for the industry, because support for a theoretical local project slipped to 70 percent this year, down from 76 percent support in 2008.
“Drill baby drill,” was a popular cry during the last presidential election, but Americans are not that enthusiastic about drilling in their community. A solid majority say they would oppose local oil drilling.
The Saint Index findings on drilling for natural gas reflect the growing activism and emerging opposition to local drilling in the Marcellus, Barnett and Bakken shale formations. Support for local drilling exceeds opposition, but controversy over “fracking” methods has raised concerns — and 45 percent of Americans say they oppose a local drilling project.