When the Public Knows Nukes it Supports Them
- May 5, 2016 12:00 pm GMT
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75 Percent of those ‘Very well informed’ favor nuclear energy.
Familiarity with nuclear energy and its role as a reliable producer of low-carbon electricity increases support for the technology, according to a new national public opinion survey.
“There’s a direct connection between feeling knowledgeable about nuclear energy and favoring it,” said Ann Bisconti, president of Bisconti Research.
Among respondents who feel very well-informed about nuclear energy, 75 percent are in favor and 54 percent are strongly favorable. In contrast, only 18 percent of the self-described “very well-informed” group strongly opposes it.
“Those who feel very well-informed about a topic are more likely to become activists for nuclear energy, so this divide is significant,” Bisconti said.
The survey found that only one-fifth of Americans feel very well-informed about nuclear energy; 42 percent feel somewhat well-informed.
However, after learning that nuclear energy is the only large-scale source of clean air energy, 86 percent said it should be an important energy source in the future.
This includes 59 percent of respondents who initially said they oppose nuclear energy.
The survey asked about potential solutions for electricity market challenges that have caused the premature shutdown of some nuclear power plants over the past three years and that have more facilities at risk of premature closure. Half of the sample was presented with this exercise.
After learning about the challenge, only 12 percent wanted to shut down the facilities; 88 percent favor enacting one or more proposed solutions to market imbalances, citing the need to protect jobs and maintain a large-scale source of clean air electricity.
“The preferred solutions involved creating the same market incentives for nuclear energy as other zero-carbon energy sources as an alternative to natural gas,” Bisconti said.
“That includes setting the cost of electricity at the lowest level that also preserves nuclear energy and also providing the same financial incentives to nuclear energy as those offered to renewables.”
Bisconti’s firm, along with Quest Global Research, conducted the survey of 1,000 nationally representative adults for the Nuclear Energy Institute from March 11 to April 11. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. Five hundred respondents were polled by phone, and the other half responded via an online panel.
Nuclear energy facilities operating in 30 states produce electricity for one of every five U.S. homes and businesses. They produce 62 percent of our nation’s carbon-free electricity. The survey showed steady support for nuclear energy, with 67 percent in favor. Favorability has consistently been in the mid- to upper sixties for the past decade, and has trended upward since NEI began its polling in 1983.
The survey found consistent support for a diverse electricity mix, with 95 percent of Americans expressing support. Eighty-two percent agree that “we should take advantage of all low-carbon energy sources, including nuclear, hydro and renewable energy, to produce the electricity we need while limiting greenhouse gas emissions.”
The survey also found:
- 82 percent support license renewal for nuclear energy facilities that continue to meet federal safety standards.
- 69 percent agree that “nuclear power plants operating in the United States are safe and secure.”
- 76 percent believe the U.S. nuclear industry should play a leading role as countries around the world build new nuclear energy facilities.
Download the full survey report from NEI’s web site.