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Most Americans favor more nuclear energy, as Biden continues to tout renewables

The survey asked respondents nine questions that center on nuclear energy, including whether views about it change after having more information. 

Published: July 16, 2023 11:18pm

More than 60% of likely U.S. voters favor nuclear power for America's future, new polling shows, as the Biden administration continues to push for more renewable energy and decreasing the country's use of fossil fuel.

The findings are in a new Scott Rasmussen National Survey and show 63% of the respondents favor a plan to double nuclear energy generation over the next 10 years.

The survey, with field work by RMG Research Inc., was conducted online July 10-11 among 1,000 registered voters. The margin of error was 3.1 percentage points. 

The survey asked respondents nine questions that center on nuclear energy, including whether their views about it change after having more information. 

The results showed that at beginning of the survey, 53% of Americans favored doubling the country’s nuclear capacity over the next 10 years, while 30% opposed it. However, after showing the upsides to it, those in favor climbed to 63%, while those not in favor dropped to just one in five. 

Overall, there was "little difference" between Democrat and Republican respondents throughout the survey.

Similar recent polls have yielded similar results. 

A Gallup survey published in April showed Americans are more supportive of using nuclear energy as a source of electricity in the U.S. The 55% of U.S. adults in the survey who say they “strongly” or “somewhat” favor the use of nuclear energy marked a four-percentage-point increase from the previous year.

However, it's unclear what, if any, impact such public opinion surveys will have on related Biden administration policies, which include nuclear as one of its zero-emissions energy sources.

Just in May, the administration announced a nearly $11 billion investment to help bring affordable clean energy to rural communities throughout the country. And part of the program will help finance renewable energy projects such as large-scale solar, wind, and geothermal projects.

In addition, the Biden administration has an ambitious deadline to get more Americans to transition from gas-burning to electric vehicles. 

Tim Cavanaugh, senior editor for the conservative-leaning Mackinac Center for Public Policy, in an opinion story last year called Biden’s nuclear energy support "half-hearted," but also argued the country's nuclear industry can be saved from regulations with such changes as ending all energy subsidies, including those for nuclear power, keeping existing plants in operation, and either abolishing or overhauling the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a $20 billion grant pool for a "National Clean Financing Network" and touted "over $500 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments" driven by Biden's Investing in America initiative. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm suggested that only "through renewable energy" can a "zero-carbon future" in America be achieved.

An estimated 20% of America’s energy grid is fueled by nuclear, while other countries around the world, like France, rely on it for the majority of their grid’s power, the Rasmussen survey also states. In 2022, it accounted for an estimated 47% of "carbon-free electricity."

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