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Survey Finds Two-thirds of Americans Support Use of Nuclear Energy
October 4-6, 2002

Survey Finds Two-thirds of Americans Support Use of Nuclear Energy By Jack Bryar

A new national public opinion poll shows that two-thirds of Americans favor the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity in the United States, including record high levels of those who "strongly support" the use of nuclear energy.

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The most recent national poll of 1,000 adults was conducted October 4-6.[1][1] Bisconti Research with RoperASW has tracked public opinion about nuclear energy and related issues several times a year during this period of intense discussion of both energy security and the security of important elements of the nation's infrastructure like nuclear power plants. Support for nuclear energy surged in early 2001 during development of a National Energy Plan and has remained at or near record high levels except for a small decline in June of this year.

Survey of U.S. Public Opinion October 4-6, 2002 SUMMARY

· U.S. public support is growing for the use of nuclear energy. The latest survey for NEI, on October 4-6, finds two-thirds of the public in support of nuclear energy in the future while 35 percent say they STRONGLY support the use of nuclear energy. The survey was a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults, surveyed by telephone by Bisconti Research, Inc. with Roper ASW. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.

· In October 75 percent of those surveyed said nuclear energy should play an IMPORTANT role in meeting America's future energy needs. This is the highest level of support measured on this question since first asked in 1989. The number saying "very important" jumped to 42 percent. When questioned about building new nuclear plants 70 percent agreed that the U.S. should keep open the "option" to build more plants while 55 percent agreed that we should DEFINITELY build more nuclear plants.

· With reference to the likely scenario of building a plant next to the nearest existing plants: 55 percent would find that acceptable.

Other indicators of increased support for nuclear energy: 82 percent agreed, "We should renew the license of nuclear energy plants that continue to meet federal safety standards."

Two-Thirds of the Public Favors Nuclear Energy; Strongly Favorable Increases to 35%

In the October survey, two-thirds of the public (65 percent) favor the use of nuclear energy. And 35 percent strongly favor the use of nuclear energy compared with 15 percent who are strongly opposed. In October, three quarters said nuclear energy should play an important role in meeting America's future energy needs. This is the highest level of support measured on this question since first asked in 1989. The number saying "very important" jumped to 42 percent.

The survey also found that U.S. adults now hold the following opinions about nuclear energy issues: 82 percent agree that we should renew the license of nuclear power plants that meet federal safety standards. 70 percent agree that we should keep the option to build more nuclear power plants in the future. 55 percent agree that we should definitely build more nuclear power plants in the future.

55 percent said it would be acceptable to add a new nuclear power plant next to the nearest nuclear power plant that is already operating. Solid majorities in both the North Central and South continue to say that would be acceptable. [1][1]Telephone interviews October 4-6, 2002 with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 U.S. adults, margin of error plus or minus three percentage points, Bisconti Research, Inc. with RoperASW.