Professor Kent Portney chaired a symposium on “Public Opinion and Food-Water-Energy Nexus Policy,” at the Food-Energy-Water Nexus Conference of the National Council for Science and the Environment January 21, 2016, in Washington, DC. This conference brings together people from academia, government agencies, corporations, and nonprofits to develop new understandings and explore solutions to complex scientific and environmental issues. Results from the 2015 Energy-Food-Water Nexus Public Survey conducted by the Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy (ISTPP) were presented at the symposium.
Justin Bullock, assistant professor and ISTPP fellow, delivered research co-authored with professor and ISTPP fellow, Ann Bowman, on “Policy Preferences at the Nexus of Water, Energy, and Food.” The authors investigated what factors predict support for policy actions across the areas of water, energy, and food. Overall knowledge of the relationships among water, energy, and food positively influences support for policy action. General concern about the environment is the strongest predictor across all issue areas. Political party and political ideology also predict support for policy action.
Bryce Hannibal, ISTPP post-doctoral research fellow delivered his research on “Social Determinants and Political Implications of the Water-Energy-Food Nexus Cognition.” Hannibal assesses the extent of people’s awareness of the nexus and the extent to which nexus cognition influences policy preferences. Participants’ responses indicate cognition of all three nexus areas – water-energy, water-food, and energy-food. Participants with higher levels of cognition in any of these areas show higher levels of support for governmental intervention policies. This support for government actions crosses over from one nexus area, say water-energy, to one or both of the other nexus areas.
Manny Teodoro, Associate Professor in TAMU Political Science and ISTPP Fellow, presented his research on “Brand Value: Who Do People Trust to Manage the Nexus?” This research examines the influence brand value exerts on the publics’ preferences for federal agency involvement in managing agricultural, energy, and water resources. For each of these resources, some participants were asked what the appropriate role, or level of involvement, should be for the federal government while others were asked this same question but for a specific federal agency, such as the Environmental Protection Agency for water resources. For each of these resources, respondents identified a stronger management role for a specific federal agency over that identified for the more generic “federal government.” This finding carries over to the influence of political party. With the exception of lower support expressed by Democrats for the Corps of Engineers to manage water resources, both Democrats and Republicans indicated a greater role for specific agencies to play over that of the federal government. And, as expected, Democrats overall indicated a stronger perceived role for government than Republicans did.