[ad#PhycoBiosciences AIM Interview]

Process

Gaining community support for biomass projects

January 23, 2013, by Al Maiorino, President, Public Strategy Group, Inc.
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

shakinghandscrop

Questions are increasingly raised concerning the various environmental, economic, and social issues that surround biomass production and use. But with continuous research and dedication to the advancement of modern ideals and methodology, the biomass industry is looking to ensure increased energy accessibility, efficient resource usage, and sustainable production.

Nonetheless, companies need to look at their strategy of building public support to counter the NIMBY (not in my backyard) effect on biomass projects, as the outcome for a smooth project is at risk.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce data shows that in 2011 over 350 energy projects were delayed or abandoned due to public opposition – and the economic impact of these projects was estimated at about $1.1 trillion in GDP and 1.9 million jobs per year. That is a lot of missed opportunity for jobs and clean energy, all due to public opposition.

Having been in the business of running public affairs campaigns to build public support for controversial projects for nearly twenty years, I can tell you that the key piece of the puzzle missed by developers in their public outreach strategy is the “campaign” style approach the opponents can do so well.

Just announcing a biomass project...

Too often biomass developers do not offer up an aggressive public affairs campaign when they announce a project, often letting crucial time pass between the announcement of a proposal and when public outreach begins. Opponents use this time to build opposition and sway residents against these projects. By running a political style campaign, you can reach all residents, identify the supporters, and harness them into action for your project. Here are some crucial tactics that biomass should consider in their outreach efforts:

Announce your proposal wisely

When announcing a project, have a direct mail piece ready to hit all the households in the host community to spread the positive benefits of the project. It is effective to follow this up with newspaper and web ads, and phone banking of the community to, again, further identify supporters. Have an open house to answer residents’ questions and recruit supporters.

All of this should be done in the first few weeks after announcing a project, to not allow the opposition to gel and take over the narrative. Too often companies allow precious time between announcing a project, and disseminating information to the community.

Meet with identified supporters

Once you have a database of supporters built from the mailers, ads and phone calls, the developer should meet with them so that they know they are not alone in their support, and they are a grassroots force that can begin to write letters to public officials, the newspapers, and attend key public hearings and speak out. Rarely will a supporter write a letter for you or attend and speak at a public hearing if you have not had the face to face contact with them previously.

...in 2011 over 350 energy projects were delayed...

Build grasstops support

In addition to reaching out to residents, stakeholders and well known members of the community, along with businesses, associations, and other civic groups should also be met with to attempt to bring on board for support.

Keep an updated database

As you begin to identify supporters of your project, that information should be put in a database to refer to throughout the entitlement process of your proposal. Coding your supporters by local legislative districts can also help if you need to target a particular local legislator who may be wavering in support.

The key goal of these types of campaigns is to never allow the opponents an opportunity to seize the moment because of inaction by the developer. Just announcing a biomass project is not enough to assume that everyone will be on board to support it. By running an aggressive campaign and identifying supporters, you have taken a key step of any successful campaign. Knowing what to do with the identified members of a community who support your project is the next step, and one that will allow vocal support to outnumber opponents – whether it be petitions, letters or crowds at public hearings.

When announcing a project...

In 2013 and beyond, expect NIMBY opposition to biomass. Meeting this challenge with proven grassroots techniques will be critical to making 2013 a success for renewable energy.

Al Maiorino started Public Strategy Group, Inc. in 1995. His firm has developed and managed corporate public affairs campaigns in a variety of industries.

More Like This…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2013 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
With their new CO₂ processing-platform called AstaCos, AlgaeBiotech can produce waxy particles of only 50-100 µm in size with a loading of 25% astaxanthin oleoresin. The ...
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae because of their color, have endured for more than 2.5 billion years, providing ample time to adapt to changes in the Earth'...
Five years ago, on April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig caused a release of 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico before the well was ca...
Murdoch University researchers are investigating whether the effluent from piggeries can be effectively treated with micro- and macroalgae so that species of the organism...
Natacha Tatu writes in Worldcrunch about a 72-year old French chef who has taken on the challenge of bringing spirulina to the malnourished youth of the Central Africa. F...
OriginClear Inc. and partner AlgEternal have announced that, based on AlgEternal’s field tests, they believe their pure algae concentrate, harvested with OriginClear tech...
Scientists have been investigating the likely future impact of changing environmental conditions on ocean phytoplankton, which forms the basis of all the oceans' food cha...
Dr. Gloria Naa Dzama Addico and Kweku Amoako Atta deGraft-Johnson write in Graphic Online about the plight of the fisher folks in Ghana — in the throes of depleting fish ...
Jason Holland writes in SeafoodSounce.com that the ability of marine and freshwater algae to produce omega-3 oils makes them increasingly suitable for replacing price vol...
Algae may hold the key to feeding the world’s burgeoning population. If algae’s efficiency at taking in carbon dioxide from the air could be transferred to crops, we coul...
CBS Miami reports that protesters are demanding answers and action over the toxic mess in Florida — a poisonous algae bloom plaguing four counties now under a state of em...
Tyler Treadway of TCPalm reports on technology joining the fight in response to the Florida algae blooms. He watches, as water from a boat basin topped with several inche...