Americans more likely to support nuclear power than coal, natural gas or oil plant
UTICA, New York – As a new summer and warm temperatures threaten to strain the nation’s aging electricity generation system, two-thirds of Americans (67%) said they support the construction of new nuclear power plants in the U.S., with nearly half (46%) who indicated strong support for new nuclear plants, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows.
The Zogby survey extends a trend reported in the 2007 Saint Index that the number of Americans who support power plant development in their hometown rose dramatically. Thirty-eight percent of American adults support a local power plant project, compared to just 23 percent in 2006 — a 15 percent rise.
Republicans (85%) and political independents (70%) were more likely than Democrats (49%) to support the construction of new nuclear power plants. A majority of respondents of all ages – with the exception of those age 18 to 24 (47%) – expressed support for building new nuclear power plants, with the greatest overall support among those age 65 and older (78%). Men (82%) are more likely than women (52%) to favor building new nuclear power plants in the U.S.
|Do you support or oppose the construction of new nuclear power plants in the U.S.?|
Note: Some totals may not equal 100% due to rounding
Seventy-one percent of respondents support building new natural gas power plants in the U.S., while 51% support the construction of new coal power plants and 38% support construction of new oil power plants. Compared to the nearly half of respondents who expressed strong support for building nuclear power plants in the U.S., fewer respondents said they strongly supported the construction of new natural gas (34%), coal (27%), or oil (19%) power plants. The Zogby Interactive survey of 2,925 adults nationwide was conducted May 20-22, 2008, and carries a margin of error of +/- 1.8 percentage points.
Many would support a nuclear power plant in their community
Support for nuclear power remained significant when respondents were asked which type of power plant they would be most likely to support – coal, natural gas, oil, or nuclear – if a new electric power plant had been approved for construction in their community and they had a choice of the fuel source to be used. Respondents were more likely to say they would support a nuclear power plant (43%), over an electric power plant which had its fuel source from natural gas (26%), coal (8%) or oil (1%). Republicans (60%) and political independents (45%) were more likely than Democrats (28%) to say they would be most supportive of a nuclear power plant in their community. Democrats were most likely (36%) to favor the construction of a natural gas plant close to home over other types of electric power plants, compared to 28% of independents and 14% of Republicans who said the same.
The preference for the construction of a nuclear power plant in their community is greater among older respondents – 52% of those age 65 and older would most favor this type of electric power plant – and is the most favored choice among all age groups with the exception of the youngest respondents. Among those age 18 to 24, 27% would favor the construction of a nuclear power plant in their community, compared to more than half (52%) who said they would be most likely to support a natural gas power plant where they live. Men (60%) were more than twice as likely as women (28%) to be most supportive of a nuclear power plant.
The construction of a nuclear power plant in their community also received the strongest support from those who live in wealthier households – more than half (51%) of those with household incomes of $75,000 or more would favor a nuclear power plant, compared to 22% of those with less than $25,000 in household income.
Majority of government funding favored for nuclear, solar, and wind
Respondents were most likely to believe the federal government should give the most financial support to nuclear (28%), solar (18%), and wind (12%) fuel sources. Just 8% believe most of the federal government’s financial support should be focused on biomass, while 4% each favored geothermal, hydro, oil, coal, or natural gas. While Republicans overwhelmingly favored more funding for nuclear fuel sources (47%) over other options, Democrats are most likely to favor solar (28%) and wind (20%) – just 11% of Democrats believe the federal government should most heavily support nuclear power. Independents are most likely to believe the most financial support should be directed to nuclear (30%), solar (17%), or biomass (13%) fuel sources. Nuclear fuel is most favored for the majority of government financial support by all age groups, with the exception of those age 18 to 29, who give a slight edge to solar (20%) over nuclear (19%).
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