US support for nuclear energy at record high, poll shows

13 June 2024

Public support in the USA for nuclear energy is at a record high level, according to the latest survey by Bisconti Research Inc. The results show that for four years in a row, more than three-quarters of the US public said that they favoured the use of nuclear energy.

Attitudes on the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity in the USA, 1983-2024 (Image: Bisconti)

The National Nuclear Energy Public Opinion Survey - conducted between 30 April and 2 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. The company has conducted national surveys on attitudes towards nuclear energy since 1983.

The poll found that 77% 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 23% were opposed. 

"That is a sea-change from four decades ago, when the public was about evenly divided between those who favoured nuclear energy and those who were opposed," Bisconti said.

Opinions about licence renewal and constructing new reactors were also found to be "overwhelmingly favourable" in 2024 and have remained at the same high level for the past four years. 

The survey found that 88% of the public agrees that the licences of nuclear power plants that continue to meet federal safety standards should be renewed. Bisconti said: "On this measure, the public has always viewed nuclear power plant licence renewal as similar to renewing a driver's licence - if you can drive safely, the licence should be renewed."

Support for constructing more nuclear power plants has grown, especially since 2021. The latest poll found 71% of respondents in favour of new reactors and 29% opposed.

"Those strongly favourable to nuclear energy outnumber those strongly opposed by 5 to 1," the company noted. "However, the majority do not have strong opinions. Nearly two-thirds somewhat favour or somewhat oppose nuclear energy; they are fence-sitters and have not yet made up their minds."

The level of knowledge about nuclear energy was determined in the survey by answers to 10 questions. Bisconti said many respondents failed the knowledge test. Two-thirds of the sample had low or somewhat low knowledge, and only 7% had high knowledge. The results showed "that the more people know about nuclear energy, the more strongly they favour this energy source - with a range of 14% (low knowledge group) to 70% (high knowledge group) who are strongly in favour".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News