WASHINGTON, D.C.—Seventy percent of Americans favor nuclear energy, with the number of Americans voicing strong support exceeding those strongly opposed by a margin of more than two to one, according to a nationwide survey conducted in mid-March.
The telephone survey of 1,000 U.S. adults also showed that solid majorities of Americans are willing to see existing nuclear energy facilities expanded, believe that the United States “should definitely build more nuclear power plants in the future,” and support federal incentives to build nuclear, wind and solar facilities to meet future electricity demand.
The March 12-15 survey was conducted for the Nuclear Energy Institute by Bisconti Research Inc. in conjunction with GfK Roper. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
This is the second straight survey which has found that 70 percent or more of Americans favor nuclear energy and express a willingness to have a new reactor built at the nearest existing nuclear plant. Last September, 74 percent of respondents said they view nuclear energy favorably, with only 24 percent of respondents voicing opposition. Twenty-six percent of respondents voice opposition in the new survey.
In the latest survey, 30 percent of Americans said they “strongly favor” nuclear energy, while only 12 percent said they “strongly oppose” it.
“The strong public support shown for nuclear energy—and the fact that support is being sustained at levels as high as they have been in the 26 years that I have been conducting public opinion research on this topic—indicates a real change. The levels of support found for nuclear energy in recent months really are unprecedented,” said Bisconti Research President Ann Bisconti.
“The poll found that the public is more concerned today about jobs, economic growth and energy independence than about global warming and air pollution. Clearly though, they see nuclear power as one of the ways to address all these challenges.”
Asked about the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in southeastern Pennsylvania—Saturday marks the 30th anniversary of the March 28 event—83 percent of respondents said they believe that nuclear power plants have become safer since then. Forty-six percent of Americans believe that nuclear plants have become “a lot safer” over the past 30 years.
Support for nuclear energy included these findings:
• 62 percent of Americans agree that the United States should definitely build more plants in the future;
• 70 percent would find it acceptable to add a new reactor at the nearest existing nuclear plant site;
• 81 percent approve of federally guaranteed loans to jump start development of nuclear, wind and solar energy facilities;
• 87 percent approve of tax credits as incentives to build nuclear, wind and solar energy facilities;
• 84 percent support license renewal for nuclear power plants that continue to meet federal safety standards; and
• 76 percent believe that electric utilities should prepare now so that new nuclear plants could be built if needed in the next decade.
You can view the questionnaire used for the survey at: http://www.nei.org/resourcesandstats/documentlibrary/newplants/reports/march-2009-public-opinion-questionnaire/.