Report: Public 'Sees' Collusion to Halt Energy Alternatives

When it comes to terms like "conservation," "energy security" and "energy costs," citizens and experts define them and think about them very differently. And that may be part of the reason why those concerned about U.S. energy policy can't seem to generate national consensus on how to face the energy challenge, according to a report released on March 26 by Public Agenda.

The exploratory study was conducted on behalf of the Kettering Foundation.

"Putting the Pieces Together: How Do Citizens and Experts See the Energy Issue?" describes the findings from a series of focus groups across the country and interviews with experts on an array of energy issues. It lays out some of the commonalities and differences in thinking between voters and a cross-section of government, technical, industrial, and policy experts on energy issues and illuminates a number of communications and policy challenges and opportunities.

One striking insight from the research is the frequency of citizens accusing corporate and government leaders of colluding to keep energy alternatives out of the market. Many citizens had a "strongly felt perception that 'movers and shakers' are either actively making matters worse or are simply abdicating responsibility and leaving problems to fester," the report says. Energy experts had a more nuanced, although not entirely contradictory view. "Most experts saw the forces behind the energy leadership vacuum as a combination of the prevailing culture of partisanship and the corrupting influence of big money on public decision- making," the report's authors say.

The full report is at: http://www.publicagenda.org/energygapanalysis2008/.

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