Public perceptions of wave energy on the Oregon coast Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/x633f4870

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  • Oregon’s coastal communities grew from the booming logging and fishing industries of the 19th century, but in recent decades have faced not only major declines in both timber and fish resources but also an increasing reliance on tourists and retirees and the resultant glut of seasonal service-sector jobs. As a burgeoning new industry, wave energy development promises not only a renaissance of family-wage jobs for coastal residents but also the opportunity to fulfill the mandate of the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 2006. However, not all coastal residents express enthusiasm for wave energy, and some feel directly threatened by specific development proposals. This study examines public perceptions of the wave energy development process among six categories of coastal stakeholders including local government, commercial fishing, tourism enterprises, recreation, environmentalists, and general citizenry (including retirees and residents not included in the above categories). Forty-seven residents across three coastal counties facing potential development were asked a set of questions during semi-structured interviews to assess: 1) an emic definition of the concept of “community well-being,” 2) the nature of residents’ knowledge and understanding of wave energy technology, and 3) the perceived potential impacts of wave energy technology on community well-being. Impacts were organized into five categories (environmental, economic, aesthetic, vocational, and psychological) utilizing an opportunity-threat analysis framework. The degree to which impacts were viewed as either threats or opportunities primarily reflected individuals’ cognitive orientation toward near-term effects in local systems or long-term effects in global systems, respectively. Findings suggest that proponents should focus outreach efforts through local newspapers and online resources to dispel unrealistic expectations of potential benefits and exaggerated predictions of potentially negative community impacts.
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