Coastal Recreationists’ Attitudes Towards Offshore Wind Energy Development in South Carolina
Matthew Brownlee, Clemson University
20 Apr 2012
North Myrtle Beach and Georgetown are the primary focus of offshore wind energy studies in South Carolina. These locations possess multiple attractions for coastal recreation. The overall goal of this project was to evaluate coastal recreationists’ attitudes towards proposed offshore wind energy near North Myrtle Beach and Georgetown. Researchers selected coastal recreationists because of their association with specific areas sited for wind energy and the importance of coastal recreation to the regional economy. Understanding different levels and reasons for opposition and support for proposed wind energy is important to inform policy decisions, marine spatial planning, and communication campaigns.
The researchers used a three-phase Exploratory Mixed Methodology. First, researchers used a modified Seidman Approach to conduct semi-structured interviews (N = 18; ∑ = 19.5 hours) with tourist operators, energy experts, residents, and tourists in and near both communities. Next, researcher applied Inductive Open-Topic Coding to this data to inform the development of a questionnaire with multiple item quantitative scales. Scales included place attachment, multiple dimensions of opposition and support, and likelihood of performing civic actions. In the third phase (Summer 2011) researchers administered the questionnaire by intercepting coastal recreationists at boat ramps, beach access areas, and coastal tourist attractions in both communities (N = 637). Researchers used Structural Equation Modeling to validate measurements and identify differences in responses between communities and user groups (e.g., beach users vs. anglers).
As part of this presentation, the researcher will clearly explain the social science tools applied and results. Particular emphasis will be placed on the contributions and implications of the results for policy decisions and communication campaigns.
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