Type: Public event

Cheap and Clean: How Americans Think About Energy in the Age of Global Warming


SPEAKER: David Konisky, Associate Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University

Date & time

Nov 23, 2015, 11:30 am-1:00 pm EST


Weill Hall, Annenberg Auditorium
735 S. State Street, Ann Arbor 48109

11:30am-1:00pm (Pizza lunch provided at 11:30am, lecture begins at 11:40am)

Free and open to the public.

How do Americans think about energy? Is the debate over fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable energy highly partisan and ideological? Are people’s preferences for different energy sources idiosyncratic, or is there a common pattern that explains how people view energy across sources? How much does concern about climate change weigh on these opinions? David Konisky answers these questions and more in a discussion of his 2014 book, Cheap and Clean.

About the speaker:
David Konisky
is Associate Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Konisky’s research focuses on American politics and public policy, with particular emphasis on regulation, environmental politics and policy, state politics, and public opinion. His research has been published in leading political science and public policy journals, and he has the authored or edited three books, including most recently, Failed Promises: Evaluating the Federal Government's Response to Environmental Justice (MIT Press, 2015). 

Konisky earned his Ph.D. in political science at MIT, and has master’s degrees in environmental management and international relations from Yale University and a bachelor’s degree in history and environmental studies from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to joining the faculty at Indiana University, he served on the faculty at Georgetown University.

About the book:
In Cheap and Clean, Stephen Ansolabehere and David Konisky show that Americans are more pragmatic than ideological in their opinions about energy alternatives, more unified than divided about their main concerns, and more local than global in their approach to energy. Drawing on extensive surveys they designed and conducted over the course of a decade (in conjunction with MIT’s Energy Initiative), Ansolabehere and Konisky report that beliefs about the costs and environmental harms associated with particular fuels drive public opinions about energy. People approach energy choices as consumers, and what is most important to them is simply that energy be cheap and clean. Most of us want energy at low economic cost and with little social cost (that is, minimal health risk from pollution). The authors also find that although environmental concerns weigh heavily in people’s energy preferences, these concerns are local and not global. Worries about global warming are less pressing to most than worries about their own city’s smog and toxic waste. With this in mind, Ansolabehere and Konisky argue for policies that target both local pollutants and carbon emissions (the main source of global warming). The local and immediate nature of people’s energy concerns can be the starting point for a new approach to energy and climate change policy.

For more information about the book, visit the publisher's website: http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/cheap-and-clean

Sponsored by:
Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP)

Environmental Law Society; LSA Political Science; MEnergy, Michigan’s Energy Law Association; University of Michigan Program in the Environment (PitE)

For more information contact Bonnie Roberts at [email protected] or 734-647-4091, or visit www.closup.umich.edu.