Thursday, May 24, 2012

Penn. Polls High on Nuclear Energy

286 verticalcapsfinalmodifiedWe don’t see a lot of polls on nuclear energy taken in individual states. Support nationally is usually above 50 and sometimes 60 percent in most big polls taken about it (this Gallup poll from March has it at 57 percent). But the states?

Well, The Pennsylvania Energy Alliance has tried a poll and found that nearly 90 percent “believe the use of nuclear power is an important part of meeting the United States' electricity needs.” That’s as close to a consensus as you can get.

"It's quite apparent that people recognize the benefits of nuclear power as a clean, safe and reliable source of energy," said PA Energy Alliance Executive Director Melissa Grimm. "The state needs to have a reliable source of electricity, especially now with summer approaching and our energy demands increasing." 

I’m not enough of a poll wonk to know how to determine the value of a poll taken by an interested party – but I am enough of one to know what to look for. The polls done by Bisconti and Associates for NEI, for example, are done to a high standard and transparent enough (which, in part, guarantees that high standard) that dyed-in-the-wool poll watchers can review the methodology and questions and llok for loaded and leading questions or sequences of questions.

I took a look over at the PEA (nice acronym there – I think it prefers PAEA). This is how it describes itself:

The Alliance promotes the use of nuclear energy as a clean, safe, reliable and affordable way to produce electricity.

The goal of the PA Energy Alliance is to increase public awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of nuclear energy and provide a forum through which members can express their support for the continued safe operation of Pennsylvania’s five nuclear energy plants.

So it is an interested party. The questions are available – you can download the report here. It’s a very straightforward poll:

How important is the use of nuclear power in terms of meeting our country’s electricity needs – very important, somewhat important or not at all important?

That solicits an opinion.

Nuclear power helps reduce the effects of global warming because it emits no emissions or greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

You agree or disagree with this one. This tests knowledge, I guess, so the alliance can determine what messages need more work. 59 percent knew that nuclear energy does not produce carbon emissions.

But - I probably would have rethought that “emit no emissions” phrase – because if there’s no emissions there’s no emitting – and because nuclear facilities do emit (steam, for example) – just not greenhouse gases.

The point is, you can do this with the poll – decide whether the questions work and are fair. So see what you think.

The results of the poll make sense to me, even with Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania’s background. That accident frightened people, of course, but it harmed no one and released no radiation. Many people now in the state were not alive at the time and many others have left the state one way or another.

So there’s that. There’s also the prevalence of nuclear energy’s contribution to the state – there are nine reactors at five sites arrayed pretty evenly across the bottom two-thirds of the state. That means a lot of Pennsylvanians work at nuclear plants or are aware of their presence. Bisconti’s polls have shown on a national level that neighbors of plants like them a lot – they provide good careers and contribute to their local communities materially and financially. That bolster, in my mind, the results of this poll.

So – as with any poll, view it with as many factors in mind as possible. But this one seems good – and it’d be great to see other states try the same thing.

The PAEA logo.

6 comments:

Rod Adams said...

Pennsylvania is not only the home to nine nuclear power plants, but it is also the home state of Westinghouse and a large number of its employees and suppliers. It is also the home of Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory and hosted the Shippingport demonstration reactor plant.

Nuclear energy has been very, very good to Pennsylvania for more than five decades. It is good to know that the residents seem to understand that at least as well as they understand that they reside above the Marcellus Shale formation.

jimwg said...

I dunno. I mean if this poll was truly on the level down the line then Arnie and Helen ought be taking early retirements since we wouldn't have to be fighting tooth and nail just to keep plants open, much less built.

James Greenidge
Queens NY

Anonymous said...

"Fighting tooth and nail just to keep plants open"? On what planet is that happening? NRC has NEVER denied a license renewal request for a power reactor. The industry is 70-0 or something like that.

Don Kosloff said...

Actually, the NRC has officially denied a license renewal request and required others to provide additional information even before the request has been accepted for docketing. But anti-nukes don't like to let facts get in the way of a good lie.

D. Kosloff

Don Kosloff said...

In the real world, the NRC has rejected one License Renewal Application and required applicants to provide additional information before the NRC would even accept the application for reiview. Not to mention the thousands of man-hours required to complete an application after initial acceptance for review. But anti-nukes can't let a few facts get in the way of a good lie. The actual score is USA 70, anti-nukes zero.

Anonymous said...

This is an anonymous post, but I'll identify myself: E. Michael Blake

No docketed renewal application has ever been rejected. The instances in which the NRC decided that there was insufficient information in the applications led simply to the addition of more information to the applications, which were then docketed (accepted for review). With the recent addition of Columbia and Pilgrim, there are now 73 reactors approved for renewal. The most contentious review is still in progress, however: Indian Point-2/-3, for which exhibits for the hearing are still being submitted.