America to President and Congress: Give us clean energy

Apparently, Americans aren’t getting the message that renewable energy is dead. Following the Solyndra bankruptcy and the avalanche of negative news coverage, 90 percent of the American public still thinks that developing sources of clean energy should be a very high (30%), high (35%) or medium (25%) priority for the president and Congress. This is from a survey released this week by the Center for Climate Change Communication (4C) at George Mason University.

It hasn’t been a good couple of months for government efforts to develop clean energy. The high profile failure of Solyndra precipitated significant negative coverage of renewable energy from the mainstream media. Even Google is giving up on it’s initiative to make renewable energy cheaper than coal.

But according to the 4C survey, all the negative news has had no impact on Americans’ belief that the president and Congress should give them cleaner sources of energy. The Solyndra scandal erupted in September and this survey was taken in late October and early November, when it would have been fresh in the public’s mind. But their support for clean energy is virtually unchanged since the same question was asked in May, when 91 percent felt that it should be a very high, high or medium priority.

Significant majorities supported government funding for renewable energy research (78%), tax rebates for efficient cars and solar (78%) and requiring utilities to produce 20% clean energy (63%).

Public support for clean energy is higher than global warming, but a majority wants the president and Congress to make global warming a priority (12% very high, 25% high and 33% a medium priority). The public also wants corporations and industry to do a lot more on global warming with 67% saying they should be doing more or much more to address global warming.

So, while policy makers and the press have spent much time over the past few months trying to determine what the future of government support should be for renewable energy, the public remains committed. They want the president and Congress to give them cleaner energy.

Written by Nathan Schock

Nathan is the director of public relations for POET, the largest producer of biofuels in the world. He is also a digital advocate of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He wants to help communicators improve their delivery of this information to the public in order to drive social change. Although he monitors communications from all sectors, his primary focus is business, because it it the only institution with the resources necessary to implement the lasting changes needed to preserve and protect the environment. You can read his latest thoughts at


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