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We Don't Like It But We'll Live There: The Conflict Between Stated Opinion and Action Regarding Nuclear Facilities
AuthorBurns, Courtenay Jo
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I examine the difference in public opinion between those living in the communities nearnuclear facilities and those living farther away in multiple ways. First, I measure thisquantitatively through analysis of two public opinion data sets: the General Social Survey is used to explore if/how basic public opinion (pro-nuclear versus anti-nuclear) can be predicted based on individual demographics. In other words, it is used to attempt to define who is most likely to express positive (negative) opinion. The Energy Survey 2008 conducted by Knowledge Networks for the American Clean Skies Foundation is used to explore public opinion regarding nuclear facilities in a more in-depth fashion via a series of questions focusing on harm, expense, amount of use, and willingness to live near nuclear facilities. Additionally, I measure expressed public opinion qualitatively through content analysis of newspaper articles and editorials published in the communities around nuclear facilities. I also analyze the transcripts of town hall meetings that took place (or are taking place) for each facility during the licensing process. Overall, this research attempts to explain the difference in public opinion concerning nuclear facilities by those living close to and far from them. Combined, the qualitative and quantitative portions of this research will allow for the development of a more complete view of the public opinion surrounding nuclear facilities, the factors that influence this opinion, and how this opinion changes over time. It will also allow for a move toward an explanation of why the communities around nuclear facilities grow in population, despite vehemently expressed negative sentiments. This research will lead to a better understanding of the true determinants of opinion regarding nuclear facilities and will suggest how decision makers can use this new understanding during the policy development stages of nuclearprojects.