Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Opposition To Nuclear Power Rises Amid Japanese Crisis

Pew Research Center For The People & The Press: Not surprisingly, public support for the increased use of nuclear power has declined amid the ongoing nuclear emergency in Japan. Currently, 39% say they favor promoting the increased use of nuclear power while 52% are opposed. Last October, 47% favored promoting the increased use of nuclear power and the same percentage (47%) was opposed.

Opinion about expanding the use of nuclear power has fluctuated in recent years. However, the current measure matches a previous low in support for increased nuclear power recorded in September 2005 (39% favor, 53% oppose).

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 17-20 among 1,004 adults, finds little recent change in opinions about other energy policies -- with one notable exception. With the recent surge in gas prices, support for increased offshore oil and gas drilling continues to rebound.

Currently, 57% say they favor allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters while 37% are opposed. Last June amid the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, there was more opposition (52%) than support (44%) for allowing more offshore drilling. Support for increased offshore energy drilling is approaching its pre-Gulf spill level; in February 2010, the public backed increased offshore drilling by about two-to-one (63% to 31%).

The survey shows that substantial majorities continue to support increased federal funding for research on wind, solar and hydrogen technology (74%), spending more on subway, rail and bus systems (61%), and providing tax incentives for the purchase of hybrid vehicles (58%). These measures are virtually unchanged from last October, though there is less support for alternative energy research and spending on mass transit than from 2005 to 2009.

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