New public opinion polling of Washington state residents by Bisconti Research/Quest Global Research found that a large majority favor the use of nuclear energy as part of the U.S. energy mix. (Find the Nuclear Energy Institute national numbers here).
According to Bisconti, the survey was conducted through telephone interviews Feb. 19 – March 4, with a sample of 504 people from Benton, Clark, Franklin, King, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, and Whatcom counties, proportional to population, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
If you aren’t familiar with Washington geography, Benton is the home county of Columbia Generating Station and Franklin County is next door. King County is home to Seattle. Snohomish County is adjacent to King. Tacoma is in Pierce County.
On the question of general favorability to nuclear energy, respondents were asked if they strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide electricity in the United States? Sixty-three percent strongly favor or somewhat favor the use of nuclear energy. (See bottom of post for more details).
That support number jumps when residents are asked if utilities should prepare now so that new nuclear power plants could be built if needed in the next decade: 69 percent strongly agree or somewhat agree. Fifty-three percent agree we should definitely build more nuclear power plants in the future.
When asked what attributes they associate with nuclear power (a lot, a little or not at all), the list from most to least is:
- Advanced technology
- Reliable electricity
- Clean air
- Electricity source of the future
- Energy security
- Affordable electricity
- Economic growth
- Job creation
- Climate change solution (also the largest “not at all” response)
For safety, on a scale of 1 – 7 (7 being very high safety), 49 percent gave nuclear energy a high safety rating (5-7); 16 percent a middle rating (4); and, 34 percent a low safety rating (1-3).
Who was Surveyed?
Of the people who were surveyed, 64 percent consider themselves environmentalists and 72 percent had never visited a nuclear energy facility. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed had a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree. Ninety-three percent are registered voters. The survey reached out to both land-line and cell phone users.
On the overall favorability index score, which includes nine measures, including some mentioned above, the Washington state score (53.2) comes in below both the Western U.S. (57.5) score and the national score (60.8).
This tells us we have more work to do to educate the public and our stakeholders about the benefits of clean, reliable and safe nuclear energy.
(Posted by John Dobken)