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The Civil Society Poll on Nuclear Energy

Earlier this week, a group called the Civil Society Institute released a poll where it claimed the following:
Despite a major sales push by the Bush Administration and the electrical utility industry, nuclear power is viewed in a deeply skeptical way by a "strong and strikingly bipartisan majority" of Americans, according to a major new Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) survey released today by the Civil Society Institute, a nonpartisan and nonprofit think tank that has conducted extensive public opinion research into the attitude of Americans about energy-related issues. According to the survey, Americans favor developing clean renewable energy alternatives and strategies -- including increased conservation, solar energy and wind power -- that can be delivered more rapidly than nuclear power.
Here's just one of the leading questions included in the poll:
Over three-fifths of Americans (62 percent) agree with the statement:
"The energy and global warming problem is happening now. We need most of the emphasis placed on immediate and near-term solutions that will deliver fast results" such as "solar energy and wind power" and "increased conservation." Less than a third of Americans think most of the emphasis should be on "solutions that will deliver results a decade from now or later" such as "nuclear power and hydrogen fuel cells."
Now this is just a tad misleading, especially since we've been adding more nuclear generating capacity all the time, even though we haven't ordered any new plants since 1973.

According to NEI estimates, since 1990, the U.S. has added the equivalent of 26 new 1,000 megawatt nuclear power plants through uprates at existing facilities -- 2,600 megawatts of generating capacity in the last five years alone. 800 megawatts are awaiting NRC approval, and another 1,300 megawatts are expected. Remember: A typical 1,000 megawatt power plant operating at 90% capacity for one year generates enough electricity to supply 740,000 households, or a city like Boston or Seattle.

And it's been able to add that generating capacity in an environmentally sensitive manner. According to internal NEI estimates, without nuclear energy, total CO2 emissions for the U.S. electric sector in 2005 would have been 27% higher. To get the same effect, you would have had to remove 131 million cars from American roadways.

And here's another example where the facts on the ground render a question moot:
Significantly, more than two out of five Americans (41 percent) said that they would be "definitely concerned" if nuclear power was allowed to eclipse other alternative energy solutions.
Allowed to eclipse? According to the Energy Information Administration, in 2005, nuclear energy provided 19.4% of America's total electricity. Renewables -- that's solar, wind, and just about any other renewable source you can think of, excluding hydropower -- contributed just 2.7%.

There are a whole bunch of other questions, all just as leading. Take a look at them at your leisure.

In the meantime, you might want to review the results of a poll taken by the CASEnergy Coalition back in May. It came to a different set of conclusions to say the least. And for the NEI's extensive archive of public opinion research, click here.

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