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Public attitudes toward political and technological options for biofuels


  • Delshad, Ashlie B.
  • Raymond, Leigh
  • Sawicki, Vanessa
  • Wegener, Duane T.


This paper explores detailed public attitudes regarding the expanding range of biofuels technologies and policy options. Subjects from 34 in-depth focus groups in central Indiana were fairly knowledgeable about biofuels technologies, but uninformed about biofuels policies despite being from a state where biofuels are a salient political issue. A narrow majority was supportive of biofuels in general, but expressed greater enthusiasm about "second generation" biofuels. Subject beliefs about biofuels' economic and environmental impacts were most important in shaping these opinions, rather than concerns about energy independence or other issues. In terms of policy options, subjects were most supportive of an alternative fuels standard and least supportive of a fixed subsidy and a cap and trade policy. In contrast to arguments about technologies, participants primarily framed their attitudes toward policies in terms of fairness. Although discussion did not substantially change aggregate preferences for most policies, it did increase support significantly for at least one policy proposal--a variable subsidy for ethanol. It is particularly noteworthy that subjects generally did not support the most common biofuel technology--corn-based ethanol--or the most prominent biofuels policy option--the fixed subsidy--despite residing in a state hosting a strong corn industry and staunch political advocates for both positions.

Suggested Citation

  • Delshad, Ashlie B. & Raymond, Leigh & Sawicki, Vanessa & Wegener, Duane T., 2010. "Public attitudes toward political and technological options for biofuels," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 3414-3425, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:7:p:3414-3425

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:eee:jaitra:v:63:y:2017:i:c:p:84-94 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Boucher, Philip, 2012. "The role of controversy, regulation and engineering in UK biofuel development," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 148-154.
    3. Kallas, Zein & Gil, José María, 2015. "Do the Spanish want biodiesel? A case study in the Catalan transport sector," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 398-406.
    4. repec:eee:enepol:v:106:y:2017:i:c:p:32-40 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Goldfarb, Jillian L. & Buessing, Marric & Kriner, Douglas L., 2016. "Geographic proximity to coal plants and U.S. public support for extending the Production Tax Credit," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 299-307.
    6. Loureiro, Maria L. & Labandeira, Xavier & Hanemann, Michael, 2013. "Transport and low-carbon fuel: A study of public preferences in Spain," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(S1), pages 126-133.
    7. Amigun, B. & Musango, J.K. & Brent, A.C., 2011. "Community perspectives on the introduction of biodiesel production in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 2502-2508.
    8. Cacciatore, Michael A. & Scheufele, Dietram A. & Shaw, Bret R., 2012. "Labeling renewable energies: How the language surrounding biofuels can influence its public acceptance," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 673-682.
    9. Balogh, P. & Bai, A. & Popp, J. & Huzsvai, L. & Jobbágy, P., 2015. "Internet-orientated Hungarian car drivers’ knowledge and attitudes towards biofuels," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 17-26.
    10. Fung, Timothy K.F. & Choi, Doo Hun & Scheufele, Dietram A. & Shaw, Bret R., 2014. "Public opinion about biofuels: The interplay between party identification and risk/benefit perception," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 344-355.
    11. Schillo, R. Sandra & Isabelle, Diane A. & Shakiba, Abtin, 2017. "Linking advanced biofuels policies with stakeholder interests: A method building on Quality Function Deployment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 126-137.
    12. Van Dael, Miet & Lizin, Sebastien & Swinnen, Gilbert & Van Passel, Steven, 2017. "Young people’s acceptance of bioenergy and the influence of attitude strength on information provision," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 417-430.
    13. Zhang, Yong & Yu, Yifeng & Li, Tiezhu & Zou, Bai, 2011. "Analyzing Chinese consumers' perception for biofuels implementation: The private vehicles owner's investigating in Nanjing," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 2299-2309, June.
    14. Marciano, James A. & Lilieholm, Robert J. & Teisl, Mario F. & Leahy, Jessica E. & Neupane, Binod, 2014. "Factors affecting public support for forest-based biorefineries: A comparison of mill towns and the general public in Maine, USA," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 301-311.


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