Communicating Carbon Capture and Storage Technologies: Opportunities and Constraints across Media
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In 2003, the U.S. Department of Energy created regional joint governmentindustry partnerships as part of a larger incentive to develop carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technologies to address the issue of climate change. As part of their missions, DOE and their partners are responsible for creating and distributing public outreach and education materials discussing climate change and CCS technologies. In this dissertation, I sought to evaluate processes for communicating CCS to the public by examining different pathways including direct communication through DOE and regional partnership websites (Chapter I), news media from states with energy projects proposed or underway (Chapter II), and alternative strategies for communication such as an online educational game for youth (Chapter IV). My study also included focus groups in communities where CCS technologies have been piloted to determine public knowledge and acceptance of CCS (Chapter III). In Chapter I, a critique of DOE and partnership websites, I found authority to be a dominant theme throughout DOE and partnership website content, often incorporating technical jargon beyond laymen understanding and, in many cases, targeting industry audiences over the intended public. In Chapter II, I analyzed newspaper articles from the states of Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana and Texas using Luhmann’s social theory and the SPEED framework to determine how CCS has been framed by the media. Findings indicated that political, legal, economic and technical frames dominated, with emphasis on benefits, rather than risks of adoption. I also found that CCS reporting increased dramatically as pilot projects started to come on line. In my study of community acceptance of CCS in the American Southwest, Chapter III, I found that participants focused their conversations on industry and government knowledge, risks and unknowns of CCS and processes for decision-making. These topics also provided an impetus for caution. Skepticism and distrust of government entities and corporations influenced participant willingness to accept storage risks to mitigate for CO2 emissions. After open discussion of pros and cons associated with the technology, however, participants were more willing to consider CCS as an option, indicating a need to talk through the issue and to come to their own conclusions. Finally, in focus groups used to evaluate of an online game titled The Adventures of Carbon Bond, I found that it was difficult for participants to discuss environmental issues with students that are viewed as contentious (i.e. climate change and CCS), but that gaming was a valuable tool for addressing such sensitive subjects. Overall, these four chapters demonstrate that communication of CCS has only reached portions of the public and has not consistently connected with those potentially impacted by the technology. They also show that CCS must overcome numerous barriers to deployment, foremost of which is public acceptance.
SubjectCarbon Capture and Storage
U.S. Department of Energy
Feldpausch-Parker, Andrea Marie (2010). Communicating Carbon Capture and Storage Technologies: Opportunities and Constraints across Media. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from