Nuclear support has not changed

The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan has had little effect on support for nuclear power in the United States. Participants in a recent survey generally believe the industry will learn from the crisis and improve safety. The results were included in a survey by APCO Insight paid for by the Russian nuclear energy corporation. Results were released June 30 by the American Council on Global Nuclear Energy.

The survey found that 69 percent of U.S. energy policy makers who took part still believe that nuclear energy should be a somewhat high or very high priority for meeting future energy demand. Similarly, 65 percent said they have a favorable impression of nuclear energy for balancing environmental and energy needs. APCO said the priority and favorability for nuclear energy has declined 5 percentage points since the initial survey of this audience in November 2010.

"The survey results indicate a far more measured and thoughtful response to Fukushima Daichii than we experienced in this country after the accident at the Three Mile Island," said Scott Campbell, President of the American Council on Global Nuclear Competitiveness.

While support for nuclear remains relatively stable, interest in fossil fuels, particularly in natural gas, has risen as energy policy leaders consider alternative generation sources.

Survey results said 76 percent of respondents believe nuclear energy has become somewhat or much safer than it was 20 years ago. That compared to 50 percent for offshore oil and gas, 64 percent for onshore oil and gas and 64 percent for hydroelectric power.

Views on specific nuclear energy policies remain mostly unchanged since October 2010. Support for the Obama Administration's federal loan guarantee program was 60 percent for and 25 percent against. However, 71 percent of U.S. energy policy activists agreed that foreign partnerships will be essential to reinvigorating the U.S. nuclear industry.

The events in Japan are of interest to 90 percent of U.S. energy policy activists, who said they are following the crisis somewhat or very closely. Additionally, 75 percent of participants say the nuclear industry will learn from events at Fukushima and safety will improve, compared to 21 percent who say the industry has not learned enough and safety will still be an issue.

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