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Saint Index 2011: Americans Support Wind Power, Natural Gas, Pipelines and Transmission - Oppose Oil Drilling, Nuclear and Power Plants

A majority of Americans say they would support a wind energy project, natural gas drilling, natural gas pipelines or power transmission lines in their home community.
    HINGHAM, MA, October 07, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Americans support wind farms over any other type of energy development in their hometown, and three out of four oppose nuclear power, the 2011 Saint Index survey found.

Asked how they would feel if various types of energy development were proposed in their community, 75 percent of Americans strongly oppose nuclear power, with 22 percent in support, and 70 percent said they would support a local wind power project, with 26 percent opposed.

But their opinions narrow on other types of fossil fuel power plans and exploration. A slim majority of Americans say yes to natural gas drilling, natural gas pipelines and power transmission lines, if such projects are proposed for their hometown. By similar margins, a narrow majority oppose local proposals for oil drilling and power plants.

The Saint Index is conducted annually by The Saint Consulting Group to track and quantify the politics of land use, including who actively opposes and supports real estate projects and why.

"The American public has shown discerning views about different types of power generation and energy exploration," said Jay Vincent, senior vice president for energy at Saint Consulting. "This year's Saint Index displays plenty of potential political support for the energy industry to identify and rally to their development needs."

Power plant opposition remains level at about 55 percent, with 41 percent supporting the development of new plants in their community. Support comes primarily from people describing themselves as conservative or identifying themselves as members of the Tea Party movement.

By an identical measure, 55 percent oppose new oil drilling, with 41 percent in support.

A majority of Americans support local projects for natural gas drilling, 50 percent to 45 percent, as well as natural gas pipelines, 50 percent to 44 percent. By a single percentage point, Americans also support new power transmission lines, 48 percent to 47 percent, if proposed in their community.

Opposition to local power plant development declined over the past five years from a high of 75 percent in 2007 to 55 percent in 2011, as support has risen from 23 percent to 41 percent.

The Saint Index survey involves interviews with 1,000 adults annually to track American attitudes about development and the politics of land use.

Among other types of real estate development projects, Walmart has gone from the most-unwanted type of local retail project five years ago to nearly an even split between Americans who would support or oppose a new Walmart in their community, the 2011 Saint Index survey found.

Nationwide, just 50 percent of Americans now say they'd oppose a Walmart proposed for their hometown, while 47 percent say they'd support a new Walmart development.

Opposition to a mall or large shopping center, a big home improvement store like Lowe's and Home Depot, and a large department store like Target all decreased to the lowest levels they have reached in the six years of Saint Index surveys.

Despite the decline in opposition to a local Walmart project, nearly eight of 10 Americans also say they don't want new development in their hometown. Seventy-nine percent said their hometown is fine the way it is or already over-developed. Eighty-six percent of suburban Americans do not want new development in their community. Asked, "What type of new development would you most like to see in your community?" the most common answer was "none."

2011 SAINT INDEX HIGHLIGHTS

Americans Don't Want New Development In Their Hometown

- 79 percent said their hometown is fine the way it is or already over-developed.

- Asked, "What type of new development would you most like to see in your community?" the most common answer was "none."

- 86 percent of suburban Americans do not want new development in their community.

The Tea Party

- The 2011 Saint Index takes the first-ever look at the potential influence of the Tea Party movement when it comes to real estate development and attitudes about how local government handles growth.

Cynicism About How and Where Development Takes Place is Pervasive

- 64 percent of Americans said the relationship between local officials and developers makes the approval process unfair.

- 51 percent say their local government is doing only "fair to poor" on decisions regarding planning and zoning.

Support and Opposition 2011

- Landfills, casinos and rock quarries are the most unwanted types of development projects when Americans consider their hometown.

The Reasons Americans Give For Fighting Projects Don't Tell The Entire Story
- Reasons given:
- 26 percent -- protecting community character
- 24 percent -- protecting the environment
- 17 percent -- too much traffic
- 14 percent -- protect value of home
- 13 percent -- too close to home

- Real reason:
Six years of Saint Index results show Americans understate the importance of protecting the value of their home as motivation to oppose development.

Using Politics To Stop Projects

- Nearly one in five Americans or someone in their family has actively opposed a new development project in their community.

- 84 percent of Americans say a candidate's position on local growth and development is important when considering candidates for local office.

Less Opposition To Big Retail

- Opposition to a mall or large shopping center, a big home improvement store like Lowe's and Home Depot, and a large department store like Target all decreased to the lowest levels they have reached in the six years of Saint Index surveys.

- Walmart has gone from the most-opposed type of local retail project five years ago to just 50 percent opposed (47 percent support) in 2011.In urban areas, where Walmart has had the most difficulty locating new stores, the 2011 survey found more support than opposition -- 47.2 percent opposed vs. 49.6 percent support.

Economy May Be Changing Attitudes

- Asked if they are more likely to support a local project in light of the current economic situation, 69 percent of Americans said they are more likely:

- Yet nearly eight of 10 also don't want new development in their town

- This "NIMBY dilemma" shows how persistent and ingrained NIMBY attitudes have become.

NIMBYs By Region

- NIMBYism is strongest in the Mid-Atlantic and West, but hostility to local development projects persists, regardless of region.

- Residents of rural communities expressed the least unfriendliness toward new local development.

About The Saint Index
The Saint Index is conducted annually by The Saint Consulting group to track and quantify the politics of land use, including who actively opposes and supports real estate projects and why. The 2011 U.S. Saint Index involved interviews with 1,000 American adults randomly selected from the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. The maximum margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence rate.

About The Saint Consulting Group
With experience on more than 1,600 controversial land use permitting projects in 45 states, Canada and the United Kingdom, The Saint Consulting Group is the global leader in land use political consultancy.

Founded in 1983, Saint Consulting has U.S. offices in or near Boston, Nashville, Chicago, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, an international office in London, England, and a joint venture partner in Berlin, Germany.

As experts in land use politics, Saint Consulting provides political campaign expertise to win complex or controversial planning decisions. Among the property sectors that use its services are: aggregates, food retail, shopping centers, hospitals, landfill, mixed-use developers, housing, heavy industry, wind power and utilities.

Links:

The Saint Consulting Group: http://tscg.biz/

The Saint Index: http://saintindex.info/

The Saint Consulting Group is an international political land use consultancy that helps its clients win permits needed for their most important and controversial development projects. For further information, please contact us at (781) 749-7290.


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Stephen Shepherd
The Saint Consulting Group

Hingham, Massachusetts
USA
Voice: 781-836-4317
E-Mail: Email Us Here
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