Energy, the Environment, and Generational Differences

In recent years, the environment has been a hot-button topic for politicians and policymakers nationwide. With the looming threat of a bill to terminate the EPA before 2019 lying in stark contrast to the recent international March for Science movement, the country continues to debate the government’s role in protecting the national and global health of the environment.
According to a study conducted earlier this year by Pew Research Center, Americans are incredibly divided regarding government regulations promoting renewable energy sources and what they consider to be a “top priority” for energy development and environmental protection.

Overall, 54% of U.S. adults believe that government regulations are necessary to ensure that businesses and consumers increase reliance on renewable energy sources, compared to 38% who feel that the private marketplace can do so on its own. However, these numbers change considerably when broken down by age: 66% of adults aged 18 to 29 believe government intervention is needed compared to 41% for adults ages 65 and up, and only 28% of young adults believe the marketplace will use more renewable energy sources on it own versus 50% for seniors. There is also a sizable difference in opinion between political party affiliations.

Both the youngest and oldest generations are split roughly in half on whether increased reliance on renewable energy sources, job creation in the energy sector, and keeping consumer energy prices low should be a top energy priority. However, there is a generational difference as to whether environmental protection or economic energy independence should be priorities. It seems that young adults place higher value on the negative effects that non-renewable energy sources will have on our environment (59% for younger vs. 43% for seniors), whereas older adults are more concerned about reducing foreign energy dependence (35% for younger vs. 54% for seniors).
Regardless of what they feel is the true top priority for legislature regarding energy and the environment, according to this study the majority of Americans feel more needs to be done by our current government representatives. For example, 54% of U.S. adults think the Trump Administration is doing too little to protect the environment, while only 35% think it is doing about the right amount or too much. Only time will tell what energy policies will actually pass, and it will take even more time to see what effects they will have on Earth.
Kaitlyn Bieniek


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