WASHINGTON, DC,, March 19, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Large majorities of Americans support nuclear energy and believe it will be important for the future, a new national public opinion survey shows. Public support for nuclear energy is particularly strong in the Midwest and in the South, where five reactors are being built.
Americans rank reliability and clean air—two of nuclear energy's chief attributes—as their top two considerations for the way electricity is produced.
"On a wide range of measures, the new survey shows an upturn in support for nuclear energy over the past year. What really stands out to me, having surveyed public opinion in this area for more than 30 years, is the sustained positive turnaround in public attitudes on nuclear energy over the past quarter century," said Ann Bisconti, president of Bisconti Research Inc.
"In 1983, when the Nuclear Energy Institute's public tracking program began, only half the public favored nuclear energy. Now, more than two-thirds of Americans are favorable."
Bisconti's firm, along with Quest Global Research, conducted the survey for the Nuclear Energy Institute from Feb. 18 to March 1. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said they "favor the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity in the United States," with 30 percent opposed. In the Midwest, 76 percent of respondents favor the use of nuclear energy, as do 71 percent of respondents in the South.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents believe nuclear energy will be important in meeting the nation's electricity needs in the years ahead; 19 percent feel it will not be important.
In a national survey by Bisconti Research one year ago, 63 percent of Americans favored the use of nuclear energy, and 74 percent felt nuclear energy will be important in meeting future electricity needs.
The new survey also shows a notable increase over the past year in public perceptions of nuclear energy safety. Seventy-nine percent of respondents agree that "nuclear power plants operating in the United States are safe and secure." In two surveys in 2014, that sentiment was expressed by 70 percent of respondents.
"The 30-year trend on nuclear plant safety is remarkable," Bisconti said. "Just 35 percent of the public assigned high safety ratings on a seven-point scale when first surveyed on this question in 1984. In the spring 2015 survey, 64 percent rate the safety of nuclear power plants high."
The survey shows that reliability and clear air benefits stand out among eight considerations in electricity production, Bisconti said. Eighty-three percent assigned "top importance" to reliable electricity production, and 82 percent to clean air, with affordability third at 75 percent.
The survey finds near-unanimity on the value of energy diversity. Ninety-six percent of Americans believe it is important to maintain energy diversity; 76 percent consider it very important to do so.
Similarly, 86 percent of Americans say "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."
Nuclear energy facilities operating in 30 states produce electricity for one of every five U.S. homes and businesses.
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry's policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available at www.nei.org.
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Source:Nuclear Energy Institute