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Iowa State University Extension

Study shows Iowans approve of bioeconomy, agree on energy policy issues

smokestack and cornfield

Iowans approve of the bioeconomy whether or not they live near biofuel-related industries, an Iowa State University study shows. They also agree on several key energy policy issues.

“There is strong support for alternative technologies that wean us away from fossil fuels,” said Cynthia Needles Fletcher, an ISU Extension family resource management specialist and a co-author of the study. “Iowa residents also believe that there is a clear role for Iowa in biofuel production.”

Early this year Fletcher and fellow researchers from Iowa State and University of Illinois oversaw a survey of 378 adults living in four Iowa counties to see if their physical closeness to a biofuel plant influenced their views on the bioeconomy. They surveyed Iowans living in one metro and one nonmetro county with a biofuel plant, and one metro and one nonmetro county without a biofuel plant.

“Most Iowans in our study view biofuel plants as an economic stimulus for rural communities and agree that Iowa should support these plants for the long-run, so communities aren’t left with production facilities sitting empty in the future,” Fletcher said. “They also strongly favor policies that promote alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and hydrogen as well as expansion of mass transit. They are far less supportive of nuclear power or tax incentives for oil exploration.”

The researchers’ analysis also suggests that Iowans with higher incomes and positive views of bioeconomy initiatives are more likely to support local expansion of biofuel-related industries, she said.

“Solid support across Iowa, irrespective of location, for Iowa’s current role in the bioeconomy bodes well for state policy development, but may go against the tide of public opinion nationwide,” Fletcher noted. “National data would allow us to test this ‘proximity’ hypothesis on a broader scale.”

For more information, contact Fletcher,

This article appeared in October 2008 -- From Jack Payne Newsletter