Your thoughts are important to us. They shape our work, shape our positions, and tell us where we need to improve and what we need to do better.
Ultimately, we’re an organization that relies heavily on our supporters, the average citizens of rural America, to let us know where we can be most effective and where we can make the biggest difference. It’s this partnership that makes the Center for Rural Affairs the best organization it can be.
With this in mind, we asked each and every one of you to tell us how you feel about clean energy in rural America. We offered questions of varying length, covering a wide swath of issues important to those of us who reside in rural areas. While we focused primarily on climate change and clean energy transmission, each query gave responders ample latitude to touch on topics important to them.
The survey was open for one month, and results were submitted evenly over this period. Many of you responded with thoughtful, informed insight and provided better feedback than any of us could have expected. We were impressed with the results, and think you will be too.
Climate change is an important aspect of our energy work. Sometimes we address this indirectly, through work on renewable energy or opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Other times we take a more direct route, such as holding community workshops that explore the relationship between climate change and agriculture. As our energy focus expands, we wanted to know how you felt about this issue and how we can best engage in research and analysis most relevant to you.
The vast majority of responders, 76 percent, believe that climate change is occurring mostly because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels.
Fewer than 3 percent believe that climate change isn’t occurring at all. While 18 percent of respondents suggested that climate change can only be attributed to natural patterns, an overwhelming number of you left comments indicating that you would have chosen an answer that points to both human and natural causes, an option we did not offer.
Staying on that topic, we found out that 65 percent of you know “some” about climate change, and recognize that there is room to learn more. Over 30 percent of you consider yourselves as having advanced knowledge with respect to this topic.
Is climate change important to you personally? Just over 49 percent said it is “very important” to you. Over 39 percent say it’s “important” and 2.5 percent of responders say it’s “not at all” important. This tells us that climate change deserves more of our focus.
We then asked which factors are most important to you when considering climate change. We offered 11 options, but also provided space for each responder to add something that may not have been listed. Overwhelmingly, the impacts of climate change on agriculture were most important, with almost 73 percent of responders indicating that this is a significant consideration. Many of you also expressed concern with the impact of climate change on future generations.
What if nothing is done to combat climate change in the future? Almost 47 percent of responders feel this would be a serious problem for your community.
Clean Energy Transmission
We’ve spent a lot of time working on clean energy transmission during the past two years. Renewable energy development – and, consequently, opportunity for rural economic development – can’t go forward unless we find a way to move energy from where it can be cost effectively produced to where it’s needed most. As our advocacy moves forward, we wanted to make sure this issue is as important to you as it is to us.
We found responses to the first two questions reassuring. How much do you feel that you know about clean energy transmission? Almost 73 percent said that they know some, and there is room to learn. Exactly 19 percent of responders consider themselves advanced in this area.
When it comes to your attitude toward clean energy transmission, we didn’t know what to expect. We were pleased to find that over 54 percent of responders have a very favorable attitude, compared to only 1.8 percent of responders who aren’t supportive at all.
How important is clean energy transmission to the rural economy? Almost 47 percent of you recognize that it’s very important. This is something that we’ll try to focus on more.
Finally, what does clean energy transmission mean to you? Over 63 percent recognize that it opens up new areas to wind development. Almost 60 percent of you recognize that it provides jobs and economic activity.
As a staff, we appreciate your participation. Understanding your opinions and perspectives are important to us. Knowing where we can improve and what we’re doing right guides our approach as we work together for a better rural America. Read more about Your Opinion: Clean Energy and Rural America