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La. residents share similar views on fossil fuels and renewables regardless of politics


La. residents share similar views on fossil fuels and renewables regardless of politics

Jun 13, 2024 | 4:20 pm ET
By Wesley Muller
La. residents share similar views on fossil fuels and renewables regardless of politics
Rows of solar modules generate electricity at UL-Lafayette's Photovoltaic Applied Research and Testing Lab on Aug. 9, 2021. (Wes MullerLouisiana Illuminator)

An overwhelming majority of Louisiana residents support the expansion of renewable energy alongside fossil fuel production in the state, and most residents believe the state government is doing too little to protect air and water quality, according to a new survey by LSU researchers. 

The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication released the third report of its 2024 Louisiana Survey, which polled over 1,000 residents in March and April for their views on energy, environment and coastal issues. 

The survey found 75% support for expanded offshore oil and gas drilling in coastal Louisiana, and 72% support for solar farm expansions, and 59% support for wind turbines. The findings were generally consistent among all political affiliations, though Republicans were less supportive of wind energy than solar. 

When asked which to prioritize, a slightly greater share of residents, 49%, said wind, solar and hydrogen should be prioritized while 47% chose fossil fuels. 

About 72% support state tax credits for carbon capture and storage projects. Advocates of carbon capture tout it as an effective method to combat harmful greenhouse gas emissions, while skeptics say it is an unproven and potentially unsafe method. 

The survey also revealed some skepticism about the impact renewable energy will have on everyday life. About 52% of Louisiana residents believe a shift from fossil fuel production to renewable energy sources would improve their local air and water quality, but only 30% think it will create job opportunities. About 34% of respondents believe renewables will improve home energy prices.

What hinders Louisiana’s shift toward renewable energy? Voters say their congressional leaders

A clear majority, 55%, believes that state government does too little to protect air and water quality. In contrast, 57% think Louisiana is doing enough to protect animals and wildlife. 

Furthermore, climate change appears to be very real for Louisiana residents. A plurality of those surveyed believe the state is doing too little about climate change, and overwhelming majorities believe climate change is contributing to extreme weather events. 

Among those who said their community experienced unusual heat in the past year, two-thirds said climate change contributed. More notably, among those whose communities experienced severe flooding or storms, 76% said climate change played a role. 

Coastal erosion is also a concern. A significant majority of Louisiana residents, 57%, say coastal land loss will cause great harm to people living in coastal areas of the state. Fewer believe it will cause substantial harm to residents living elsewhere, and only 40% believe it will harm the state’s economy. 

An overwhelming 77% support the state providing financial assistance to residents to relocate from areas at high-risk of flooding or extreme weather. About 52% support requiring communities to relocate from those areas, and a significant 67% support mandates to restrict new construction in vulnerable parts of the state.