Attitudes about nuclear power changing

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By Jay Vincent
Senior Vice President for Energy
The Saint Consulting Group

New poll results illustrate changing attitudes towards nuclear power in the United States.

A total of 74 percent of Americans surveyed said they support nuclear energy and a similar majority of 70 percent said the U.S. should be building more nuclear power plants.  Among people residing within a 10-mile radius of a nuclear power plant, 76 percent supported new reactor construction in the survey, commissioned by the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry association.

Our 2009 Saint Index showed 60 percent of Americans would oppose a nuclear power plant in their community, a decrease of five percent from 2008 numbers. Even in that worst-case NIMBY scenario, 40 percent of Americans were just fine with a nuclear power plant in their community.

That’s not an insignificant hurdle to overcome, but support is clearly building and fear is waning.

With equal demand for energy, and energy that is cleaner and greener, it’s not a surprise that nuclear is garnering a better perception in communities.

All localities are different, however, and all politics remain local. While poll numbers indicate a trending improvement, opposition site by site can remain fierce and significant. Just ask the wind energy community that received the best numbers (82 percent community acceptance) but continues to attract local opposition to permit approvals across the country.

Jay Vincent is senior vice president for energy, The Saint Consulting Group, email, phone 312.970.5770 Ext: 7502

Click here for an analysis of new public opinion poll results on nuclear power by William H. Miller, professor, Missouri University Research Reactor.

Click here for the Nuclear Energy Institute release

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