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Americans split on nuclear energy as safety worries linger - Reuters/Ipsos poll

Commodities Jun 06, 2022 07:31PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A bird flies over the Three Mile Island Nuclear power plant in Goldsboro, Pennsylvania, U.S. May 30, 2017. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Just under half of Americans support nuclear power to generate electricity, a waning industry the Biden administration has been trying to revitalize with billions of dollars in public spending as part of a plan to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll showed.

The poll, conducted last week, found 45% of Americans support nuclear power, 33% oppose it, and 22% are not sure how they feel about it. Of those supporting it, 48% cited energy reliability, 43% cited lower overall pollution, and only 39% said they favor it as a low-carbon energy source.

Of opponents, 69% cited the risk of nuclear meltdowns, while 64% worried about nuclear waste.

President Joe Biden's administration believes nuclear power, which generates power virtually free of greenhouse gas emissions, is essential to fighting climate change and boosting the reliability of the U.S. power grid.

The administration is also pushing to expand solar and wind power to help decarbonize the grid. The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed 76% of Americans back solar power, while 74% supported wind power, and 68% backed hydro-electric.

Fossil fuel power stations garnered less support with natural gas plants getting 41% and coal-fired power plants 36%.

The administration is implementing a $6 billion program, with funding from the bipartisan infrastructure bill, to save existing U.S. reactors slammed by high security and safety costs and competition from natural gas and renewable power.

The program's initial phase aimed to keep open two plants that had announced plans to shut. One of those, Entergy Corp (NYSE:ETR)'s Palisades facility in Michigan, shut last month. It is uncertain whether the other, PG&E (NYSE:PCG) Corp's Diablo Canyon plant in California, which plants to fully shut in 2025, will tap the program to stay open.

Even among those who said they oppose nuclear power plants, 56% supported keeping currently operating plants open while not building new ones, the poll found.

The United States currently has more than 90 operating reactors that generate about 20% of U.S. power. The newest U.S. reactor came into service in 2016, the first in around 20 years.

A series of high-profile mishaps over the past several decades, including the Fukushima reactor meltdown in Japan in 2011, has undermined public support of the industry, while high costs for building reactors has slowed investment.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English throughout the United States. It gathered responses from a total of 1,004 adults, including 431 Democrats and 355 Republicans. It has a credibility interval - a measure of precision - of 3.8 percentage points.

Americans split on nuclear energy as safety worries linger - Reuters/Ipsos poll
 

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Comments (6)
Alex Desouza
Alex Desouza Jun 07, 2022 6:52AM ET
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Uranium is emissionless, clean energy. With modern day technology, uranium is the cleanest way to power the worlld.
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Jun 06, 2022 9:49PM ET
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Same poll found 36% of people support coal power plants. Doubt they know they are the top carbon emission polluters, way beyond fossil fuels and leading energy source in deaths per gigawatt. They are 100% the oposite of green energy. Uneducated people.
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Jun 06, 2022 9:41PM ET
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Hundreds of active reactors worldwide. Hundreds projectedvto be built. Nuclear engineering is a leading scidntific area. There is tech that uses neclear waste as energy  - Bill Gates's Terra Power. France and the UK going heavy on nuclear energy. Least deaths comes from nuclear energy. Solar and wind will pave the way for the nuclear revival as their usage will lead to thousands of deaths during this summer - they are unreliable substitutes for fossil fuels. Nuclear energy will power next gen small and  portable nuclear reactors, the tech that will power the future. The developments within nuclear energy are groundbreaking and the gov is already funding programs to educate people about nuclear energy. The US seems to be one of the most uneducated countries about the subject.
Amie Inconnue
Amie Inconnue Jun 06, 2022 8:10PM ET
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Disasters at nuclear plants and storage facilities (inevitable) lead to long illnesses - they don't cut lives at once, but make lives miserable. I've been working with cancer patients who lived 200 and more miles from the disaster - distance doesn't help much when the air makes you ill.
Amie Inconnue
Amie Inconnue Jun 06, 2022 8:10PM ET
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Investing in nukes is risky, too: airlines recover after every crash (also statistically inevitable) quickly, but nuclear disasters affect so many people for so long that the effect on stocks lingers for many years.
Alex Desouza
Alex Desouza Jun 06, 2022 8:10PM ET
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Uranium is emissionless energy, gives off no carbon unlike coal or oil…its literally clean energy.
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Jun 06, 2022 2:37PM ET
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since you seem to think nuclear waste is safe ...well kelly let's see if we can get license' to store atomic waste in your city....
Connor Murphy
Connor Murphy Jun 06, 2022 2:37PM ET
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Ill take the nuclear waste and your city/state will pay me your tax dollars to bury it. If you think landfills filled to the brim with deteriorating rare earth elements from wind turbines and solar panels is preferable then by all means go with an unproven primary energy source.
Tyler Phillis
Tyler Phillis Jun 06, 2022 2:37PM ET
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What exactly is wasted? I suspect your knowledge of the newest nuclear tech is zero.
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Jun 06, 2022 12:55PM ET
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69% cited the risk of nuclear meltdowns while 64% worried about nuclear waste. Uninformed snowflakes.
Tyler Phillis
Tyler Phillis Jun 06, 2022 12:55PM ET
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Yup…zero education on the newest nuclear tech. Its quite clean, really.
 
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