Record level of US support for nuclear continues

02 June 2023

US public support for nuclear energy has remained at a record high level for the third consecutive year, according to the latest survey by Bisconti Research Inc. The results show three quarters of the public favour nuclear energy, and about seven in ten support the construction of more nuclear power plants.

Favourability to nuclear energy, 1983-2023 (Image: Bisconti)

The National Nuclear Energy Public Opinion Survey - conducted between 28 April and 5 May - included 1000 nationally representative US adults, with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, and was conducted by Bisconti with the Quest Mindshare Online Panel. A total of 87 national surveys have been conducted since 1983.

The poll found that 76% of respondents said they strongly or somewhat favoured the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity in the USA, while 24% were opposed. Those figures are statistically unchanged since 2021, Bisconti noted. In the previous decade, favourability had plateaued in the 60% range.

"Favourable reasons are primarily about the need for this energy because it is affordable, reliable, and efficient and about environmental benefits relating to clean air and climate change," Bisconti said. "The themes of energy independence and energy security that have re-emerged in policy discussions due to Russia's war in Ukraine are not yet cited as major reasons for opinions about nuclear energy. 

"Unfavourable opinions are primarily focused on danger, although some did mention that nuclear energy is becoming safer. In open-ended questions about reasons for opinions about nuclear energy, few even mention waste."

The more informed people feel about nuclear energy, the more they favour it, the survey showed. In 2023, of those who said they felt very well informed about nuclear energy, 74% strongly favoured it, while only 4% were strongly opposed.

Most Americans were found to hold favorable opinions about nuclear energy and its role. Nuclear energy will be important in meeting the nation's electricity needs in the years ahead, according to 86% of respondents, while 89% agreed that the licenses of nuclear power plants that continue to meet federal safety standards should be renewed. 87% agreed that the USA should prepare now so that advanced-design nuclear power plants will be available to provide electricity, and 71% agreed it should definitely build more nuclear power plants in the future.

"Support for nuclear energy remains high in the context of concerns about energy and the environment," according to Bisconti. "Nuclear energy's benefits are being mentioned in the public discourse and this information is being heard.

"The current survey shows, once again, the very close correlation between the level of feeling informed about nuclear energy and strong favourability. Also, it shows the value of information for strengthening public support. Most Americans do not feel very well informed about nuclear energy, so information makes a big difference."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News