Twice as many Americans support nuclear power as oppose it, according to a new poll by Bloomberg and the Los Angeles Times.
In a telephone poll of nearly 1,500 Americans conducted from July 28 through August 1, 61 percent of respondents said they support the increased use of nuclear power as a way to contain projected global warming, while only 30 percent opposed it.
The poll continues a trend of ever-increasing public support for nuclear power as a clean, economical, and environmentally friendly power source. Global warming fears have swayed many former opponents to support nuclear power.
The Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll results, published August 4, are in line with increasing support for nuclear power in newspaper editorial departments. Shortly after the poll results were released, the Miami Herald and Kalamazoo Gazette published house editorials supporting increased use of nuclear power.
Critical for Economy, Environment
The August 16 Miami Herald editorial noted, “Nuclear energy is crucial for the U.S. economy and environment. Reinvigorating the industry now would come at a time when energy prices are escalating. Relatively little fuel is needed to run nuclear-power plants, and they would generate electricity at cheaper rates. Moreover, nuclear energy is the most promising long-term approach to reducing U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.
“Some environmentalists believe nuclear energy is a viable strategy to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming,” the Herald added. “Additionally, these plants do not pollute the air with harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, aerosols, or photochemical smog.”
Growing Demand Cited
The August 12 Kalamazoo Gazette was even more insistent that nuclear power should constitute a greater portion of our nation’s energy mix.
“Michigan needs it,” argued the Gazette. “The state’s existing power plants aren’t generating enough electricity to meet peak requirements. Not for 17 years has a major power plant been built in the state. A state Public Service Commission report this year recommended that Michigan have at least one new electric power plant on line by 2011.
“Nuclear power is a clean, safe and reliable energy source that also would serve to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Michigan’s federal lawmakers should be pushing nuclear power and this time, Sen. Stabenow [a Democrat currently seeking reelection to the U.S. Senate] should be among them,” the Gazette concluded.
Support Leading to Action
The growing public support for nuclear power is already having positive effects on future construction plans.
The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 removed some of the obstacles to new plant construction. As a result, 16 companies have formally notified federal authorities they are considering building new nuclear power plants, according to testimony by Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Nils Diaz in May 2006 before the Senate Energy Committee.
Energy producer Entergy has taken the lead on new plant construction and is likely to receive a site permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2007 allowing a proposed new plant in Mississippi. Entergy plans to add a second new nuclear power plant in Louisiana, and it is likely to receive an NRC site permit for that plant in 2008.
“There are several factors working in favor of development and expansion of nuclear power plants in the near future,” said Nuclear Energy Institute spokesperson Trish Conrad. “Expanded baseload production will be needed to meet growing demand [for electricity]. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 has made the regulatory process less difficult. And public support is really lining up behind nuclear power, and for good reason.”
James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
For more information …
“Bush’s Grade on Environment Falls,” Los Angeles Times, August 4, http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-enviropoll4aug04,0,3303661.story?coll=la-home-headlines
“Nuclear power: Get on with it,” Kalamazoo Gazette, August 12, http://www.mlive.com/news/kzgazette/index.ssf?/base/columns-2/1155464584325280.xml&coll=7
“Proceed with caution,” Miami Herald, August 16, http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/opinion/15283326.htm