Individuals’ views about nuclear energy proceed to be blended

Diablo Canyon, the one operational nuclear plant left in California, is scheduled to be decommissioned by the top of 2025. (George Rose/Getty Pictures)

A broad majority of Individuals (69%) favor the US taking steps to change into carbon impartial by 2050, in accordance with a Pew Analysis Middle survey performed in January. However whereas some advocates counsel that nuclear energy – a supply that emits no carbon – ought to have a extra outstanding position within the nation’s vitality make-up, the general public continues to specific blended views about it as an vitality supply.

Round a 3rd of U.S. adults (35%) say the federal authorities ought to encourage the manufacturing of nuclear energy, whereas a couple of quarter (26%) say the federal government ought to discourage it. One other 37% say the federal authorities ought to neither encourage nor discourage the manufacturing of nuclear energy. The survey was fielded earlier than Russia’s navy invasion of Ukraine and the renewed discussions about nuclear energy and different present vitality sources it has prompted.

To measure U.S. public attitudes towards the usage of nuclear energy, we surveyed 10,237 U.S. adults between Jan. 24-30, 2022. Everybody who took half is a member of Pew Analysis Middle’s American Traits Panel (ATP), a web-based survey panel that’s recruited by nationwide, random sampling of residential addresses. This fashion almost all U.S. adults have an opportunity of choice. The survey is weighted to be consultant of the U.S. grownup inhabitants by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, schooling and different classes. Learn extra in regards to the ATP’s methodology. The evaluation additionally incorporates findings from a world survey of 20 publics from fall 2019 to spring 2020 and a U.S. survey performed in April 2021.

Listed here are the questions used within the January survey, together with responses, and its methodology.

We tracked the variety of U.S. nuclear energy reactors over time by analyzing information from the Worldwide Atomic Power Company’s Energy Reactor Info System (PRIS). PRIS classifies a reactor as “operational” from the date of its first electrical grid connection to the date of its everlasting shutdown. Reactors that face non permanent outages are nonetheless categorized as operational. Annual totals exclude reactors that closed that 12 months.

A bar chart showing that a majority of U.S. adults say federal government should encourage production of wind and solar power

Individuals are way more more likely to say the federal authorities ought to encourage the manufacturing of wind and solar energy (72%) and the usage of electrical automobiles (51%) than to say the identical about nuclear energy. In truth, the general public is about as more likely to say the federal government ought to encourage oil and gasoline drilling as it’s to say the federal government ought to encourage nuclear energy manufacturing.

Earlier surveys by the Middle have additionally discovered Individuals are carefully divided in views of nuclear vitality. In an April 2021 survey, half of U.S. adults stated they favored increasing nuclear energy crops within the nation to generate electrical energy, in contrast with 47% who opposed it. Views on this query have fluctuated considerably, however not more than half of adults in any survey since 2016, the primary time this query was requested, have favored increasing nuclear energy crops to generate electrical energy.

The U.S. presently has 93 nuclear energy reactors, plus two which might be below building. These reactors collectively generated 18.8% of all U.S. electrical energy final 12 months.

A chart showing that the number of U.S. nuclear power reactors gradually declined in past three decades

The variety of operational nuclear energy reactors within the U.S. has steadily declined since peaking at 107 reactors in 1990. Nonetheless, nuclear energy is part of many state governments’ plans to transition away from fossil fuels. About two-thirds of states have reported plans to include nuclear of their vitality insurance policies, in accordance with a latest Related Press evaluation. The nuclear energy sector has additionally garnered some federal assist by the $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit score Program included within the lately enacted bipartisan infrastructure regulation.

Some policymakers laud nuclear energy’s potential potential to chop greenhouse gasoline emissions, whereas others cite radioactive waste storage points and infamous accidents to make the case in opposition to nuclear. In Japan, for instance, the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident led the federal government to drastically lower reliance on nuclear energy. The accident additionally led to reappraisals of nuclear vitality manufacturing in different international locations. Extra lately (and after the January survey was accomplished), Russian navy assaults in Ukraine have raised fears of accidents at a number of seized nuclear energy crops within the space – together with the Chernobyl web site, which skilled a nuclear catastrophe in 1986.

Gender, partisan variations in views of nuclear energy

There are long-standing variations by gender and social gathering affiliation in views in regards to the federal authorities’s position in nuclear vitality manufacturing and nuclear energy extra broadly.

Males are almost twice as possible as ladies to say the federal authorities ought to encourage the manufacturing of nuclear energy (46% vs. 25%). Views differ by gender globally, too, in accordance with a Middle survey performed from fall 2019 to spring 2020. Males had been extra possible than ladies to favor utilizing extra nuclear energy as a supply of home vitality in 18 of the 20 publics surveyed throughout Europe, the Asia-Pacific area, Russia, the U.S., Canada and Brazil.

Republicans and GOP-leaning independents are 10 proportion factors extra possible than Democrats and Democratic leaners (42% vs. 32%) to say the federal authorities ought to encourage the manufacturing of nuclear energy. Conservative Republicans (45%) are most probably to say the federal government ought to encourage nuclear energy manufacturing, whereas 36% of average and liberal Republicans say the identical. Democrats are 13 proportion factors extra possible than Republicans to say the federal government ought to discourage this exercise (31% vs. 18%).

A line graph showing that in 2021, Republicans were still more likely than Democrats to favor expanding U.S. nuclear power plants

Partisan variations had been additionally evident within the Middle’s earlier surveys. In April 2021, six-in-ten Republicans favored increasing nuclear energy crops to generate electrical energy within the nation, in contrast with 43% of Democrats. Republicans have expressed assist of nuclear energy enlargement in larger shares than Democrats every time this survey query has been requested since 2016. However there are bigger partisan gaps on views of different vitality sources, akin to fossil fuels. In 2021, Republicans had been way more possible than Democrats to assist extra offshore oil and gasoline drilling in U.S. waters (69% vs. 22%) and extra coal mining within the nation (60% vs. 17%).

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