Monday, March 17, 2008

Growing Sophistication in Public Attitudes on Energy

The Pew Research Center last week released an interesting survey on energy issues. The result that caught my attention is the drop in support for federal funding for ethanol:
Although a majority of Americans (57%) favor increased federal funding for research on ethanol, support has declined 10 points from February 2006. Support for greater funding for ethanol research has declined substantially among college graduates: 56% favor this research currently, down from 77% two years ago.
In addition, support for ethanol research has also declined considerably in the Midwest (from 78% to 63%) and the South (from 67% to 53%), though somewhat less in other regions.
Ethanol used to be pretty cool. But in the last two years, the discussion has changed; more and more people are realizing that harvesting corn for ethanol production produces at best a marginal increase in net energy while food prices have climbed in response to increased demand for corn.
Those who argue that the energy economy is too complicated for mere mortal, take note; the public is catching on to the environmental and economic problems of ethanol, and turning towards energy solutions that meet the needs for long term economic stability and genuine reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

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