WASHINGTON, D.C.—Eight out of 10 Americans believe the United States “should take advantage of all low-carbon energy sources, including nuclear, hydro, and renewable” to meet growing electricity needs while limiting greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new public opinion survey of 1,000 U.S. adults.
When asked specifically about nuclear energy’s future role, three out of four Americans agree that this emission-free electricity source “should be expanded as one way to reduce greenhouse gases and prevent global climate change,” the survey found.
In line with numerous surveys conducted by a variety of researchers over the past 18 months, this survey shows that public support for nuclear energy remains strong.
Sixty-one percent of respondents said they favor the use of nuclear energy. This is the ninth straight year that favorability levels have averaged more than 60 percent in surveys conducted by Bisconti Research Inc. The firm typically conducts two national opinion surveys each year for the Nuclear Energy Institute, one in the spring and one in the fall.
This latest telephone survey was conducted Oct. 1-4 by Bisconti Research in conjunction with GfK Roper. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
The research found that 80 percent of Americans believe that nuclear energy will play an important role in meeting this nation’s electricity needs in the years ahead, and 82 percent support license renewal for nuclear power plants that continue to meet federal safety standards
The new survey comes with federal policymakers in the midst of a vibrant debate over legislation designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address the threat of global climate change. Numerous independent analyses of climate change measures identify the need for a pronounced build-out of new nuclear plants to meet aggressive carbon reduction targets.
By 2050, 187 new reactors must be built as part of a comprehensive approach to meet the carbon reductions mandated by the Waxman-Markey bill, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s analysis of H.R. 2454.
In the short term, the United States would need to build 69 new reactors by 2030 to meet the Waxman-Markey carbon reduction goals, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s basic scenario of the energy portfolio required to meet those goals. This would result in nuclear energy supplying 33 percent of U.S. electricity, more than any other source.
The survey found that 84 percent of Americans agree that we should take advantage of all low-carbon energy sources to meet this challenge, and 75 percent agree that use of nuclear energy specifically should be increased.
When asked their perceptions of nuclear energy’s major advantages, respondents most often cited nuclear’s clean-air/no pollution generation (27 percent). The percentage mentioning clean air is the highest measured since the question was first asked in 1985 and matched only by an identical percentage in 1990 following NEI’s national advertising and public relations campaign on that topic.
One hundred and four nuclear power plants operating in 31 states supply nearly 75 percent of the electricity produced by emission-free sources, including renewable technologies and hydroelectric power plants.
You can view the questionnaire used for the survey at: http://www.nei.org/resourcesandstats/documentlibrary/newplants/reports/october-2009-public-opinion-questionnaire-