1 Oct (NucNet): Awareness of nuclear energy’s role in preventing greenhouse gas emissions in the electric sector has strengthened the conviction among Americans that the technology is important to the nation’s energy and environmental future, a national survey shows.
Eighty-four percent of Americans – once told that nuclear energy produces nearly two-thirds of the nation’s low-carbon electricity – agree that nuclear energy “should be important in the future”, according to the telephone survey of 1,000 adults. Fifty percent say it should be “very important”.
“The impact of knowing the facts about nuclear energy’s clean air role is eye-opening,” said Ann Bisconti, president of Bisconti Research, which carried out the survey for the Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). “Once they are made aware of the magnitude of nuclear energy’s impact in the low-carbon electricity mix, Americans’ belief in nuclear energy’s future value is almost universal and crosses gender and political party.”
At least 80 percent of all demographic groups said that nuclear energy should be important in the future, Ms Bisconti said.
Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed agree with the concept of the Export-Import Bank, the federal lending institution that since 1934 provided loans for international projects to help US companies compete in world markets. The bank’s charter lapsed on June 30 when Congress refused to reauthorise it. Reauthorisation remains a possibility and is one of the nuclear energy industry’s top policy priorities to foster US participation in the international market for commercial nuclear energy technology and services.
The NEI’s senior vice-president of governmental affairs Alex Flint said recently that the industry’s “highest trade priority” is securing the reauthorisation of the Export-Import Bank and ensuring new Section 123 nuclear trade agreements can go into effect.
Mr Flint said GE announced it is moving 500 jobs overseas because the bank’s authority expired. “What we’re concerned about is that many of our companies may not even have the option of moving jobs overseas, but that those jobs may simply go away, while their overseas competitors increase jobs.” The outlook for Ex-Im Bank is very uncertain, he said.
The survey also found that 82 percent agree that regulators should renew the operating licences of nuclear power plants that continue to meet safety standards; 70 percent agree that electric companies should prepare now so that new nuclear power plants could be built if needed in the next decade; and 56 percent agree electric companies should build more nuclear energy facilities.
Eighty-three percent of those surveyed say “we should take advantage of all low-carbon energy sources, including nuclear, hydro and renewable energy, to produce the electricity we need while limiting greenhouse gas emissions”.
Ninety-nine commercial nuclear reactors operating in 30 states produce electricity for one of every five US homes and businesses, the NEI said.
Even when nuclear energy’s clean air value is not detailed, most Americans favour its use, the survey shows. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said they favor nuclear energy, including 26 percent who “strongly favour” nuclear energy’s use. That is down slightly from the 68 percent favouring nuclear energy’s use in the national survey that Bisconti Research conducted for the Nuclear Energy Institute last spring.