Center for Energy, Security and Society

Current Research


Energy and Environment Project
(2006-ongoing)

Project overview:

The energy and environment (EE) project began in 2006, and is aimed at measuring preferences of U.S. residents concerning the environment and energy sources. The project uses multiple streams of data to measure, track, and analyze these preferences. One primary data stream is the EE survey series. designed to track evolving public views on nuclear energy and nuclear materials management in the U.S. Other data streams include social media (Twitter) messages and Google search trends.

EE16 Survey

The 2016 wave of the Energy and Environment survey (EE16) was implemented using a web-based questionnaire, and was completed by 2,106 respondents using an Internet sample that matches the characteristics of the adult U.S. population as estimated in the U.S. Census. A special focus of the EE16 survey was public preferences and support for different spent fuel management options, including continued on-site storage, interim storage, deep geologic repositories, and an integrated system approach. Additionally, the survey measured public preferences for a “defense waste only” repository versus a co-mingled repository that would include both defense and commercial wastes.

Learn more about the most recent EE survey here.
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EE15 Survey

The 2015 wave of the Energy and Environment survey (EE15) was implemented using a web-based questionnaire, and was completed by 2,021 respondents using an Internet sample that matches the characteristics of the adult U.S. population as estimated in the U.S. Census. A special focus of the EE15 survey was to measure how the public perceives advances in nuclear energy technologies, and how information about these new technologies might influence their risk perceptions about nuclear energy more generally. The survey measured public preferences about new technologies like the small modular reactors (SMRs) and how they compare to traditional nuclear reactors. The EE15 survey also explored how survey respondents understand and evaluate trust and decision-making in the context of the storage and transportation of spent nuclear fuel (SNF).

EE14 Survey

This project plans to conduct comprehensive data analysis regarding the site selection process and programs for the storage of used civilian nuclear fuel, including potential appropriate organizational structures, oversight models, local community engagement potential and process, and potential for compensation to host communities.

EE13 Survey

This project analyzed nationwide survey data collected by the University of Oklahoma in 2013 regarding beliefs, preferences and concerns about used nuclear fuel (UNF) temporary storage, transportation, and disposal as they pertain to nuclear fuel cycle management policies. The analysis created nationwide averages for each of the measures, and also highlighted differences resulting from proximity to current reactors, temporary UNF storage, and other nuclear facilities. Specifically, the resulting report analyzed concerns about “stranded” UNF and preferences for its management; analysis of preferences for the transport of UNF from current temporary storage sites to regional interim sites; a study of the implications of the Fukushima, Japan nuclear event for support for nuclear energy and nuclear materials management strategies in the US; and an analysis of public understanding of and preferences for nuclear waste facility siting in the U.S.


Non-Market Values for Alternative Operations
of the Glen Canyon Dam: Explorations in
Choice and Valuation

This project provided conceptual development of a set of key concerns about the basis for understanding and measuring non-market values for hydro-power produced by the Glen Canyon Dam, and (2) an analytical report, based on data obtained by OU, that evaluates the implications of the set of key concerns for variations in non-market valuation of hydropower.

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Previous Collaborations


Nuclear Facility Siting

Understanding the dynamics of siting

Siting nuclear fuel cycle facilities is complex, and predicting outcomes of siting efforts is extremely challenging. A clearer understanding of the dynamics of siting can facilitate the many challenges associated with the siting process and help reduce the associated uncertainties. Accordingly, we are interested in determining which factors are crucial for the successful or unsuccessful siting of nuclear facilities.

Dynamics of the policy process

In our research, we focus on the dynamics of the policy process and factors such as institutional configuration, political climate, economic environment, stakeholder involvement/engagement, and scientific/technical challenges. For example, is siting less or more contentious in federal systems? Which approach to stakeholder involvement/engagement is most effective when siting a used fuel repository?

Comparative perspective

In addition to our existing research efforts for studying nuclear facilities within the United States, we look at other international cases including India, Sweden, South Korea, and France. Employing a comparative methodology, we find, is most effective for understanding the general factors that affect siting in most cases. Furthermore, the comparative perspective highlights unique factors that impact specific cases due to their distinct social, political, and economic characteristics. For example, scientific/technical challenges associated with a particular site may have a similar impact on the siting process across cases. However, the nation’s distinct social and political culture requires different approaches to stakeholder involvement/engagement. In current and future research efforts, we will continue to add more cases to our research and refine concepts such as host community, stakeholder engagement, and veto players.


National security and Nuclear Policies

Four related dimensions of security, risk, and crisis management

The National Security and Nuclear Policies project conducts research into mass and elite opinions on four related dimensions of security, risk, and crisis management:

  • Nuclear security, to include public perspectives on the evolving post-Cold War security environment, nuclear proliferation, nuclear deterrence, nuclear arms control and disarmament, support for sustaining nuclear weapons infrastructures, nuclear risks and crisis management, and beliefs about the nuclear future
  • Security from terrorism, including public perceptions of the evolving terror threat, homeland security and response crisis management, progress in the struggle against terrorism, and relationships between policies to combat terrorism and their implications for individual liberties
  • Energy security, to include perceptions and factual knowledge about energy resources and management, outlooks on future energy sufficiency, preferences for energy sources and production, concerns about energy independence, and beliefs about risks and benefits of nuclear energy, and policy preferences for managing nuclear materials
  • Environmental security, including public knowledge and beliefs regarding the state of the environment, beliefs about global climate change, understandings of scientific opinion and technical debates on environmental security, and relationships between energy security and environmental security
Evolution of mass opinion on multiple dimensions of security

Begun in 1993, this ongoing project provides unique trend information about the evolution of mass opinion on multiple dimensions of security. To date, it includes 23 focus groups in 10 cities, more than 30 national phone and Internet surveys of the American public and one phone survey of the British public, postal surveys of numerous elite communities in the US and Europe, face-to-face interviews with policy experts, and more than 50,000 participants from the United States and Europe. Publications include numerous technical reports, academic articles, and the book titled Critical Masses and Critical Choices: Evolving Public Opinion on Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, and Security.