Blogs > Power to the People

Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm......

Our friends at the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) released the results of a new survey on Friday, designed to show that 30 years after the accident at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island power plant, Americans feel confident about the safety of the power source.

Well, make that Americans who have nuclear power plants in their backyards.

The results of a survey done in mid-July that polled more than 1,100 adults living within a 10 mile radius of an active nuclear power plant found that:

- 84 percent of Americans living near nuclear power plants favor nuclear energy.

- 90 percent view the local power station positively.

- 76 percent support construction of a new reactor near them.

- 88 percent give the nearest nuclear plant a “high” safety rating.

“The familiarity, comfort and support of those living near nuclear plants is reflected in this survey, and they are enthusiastic about the possibility of new plants being added to the existing sites for the obvious economic and environmental benefits,” said Scott Peterson, NEI vice president for communications.

While these results are designed to sway public opinion about nuclear energy, they should hardly come as a surprise.

Think about it: Anyone who has even the slightest concern about the nuclear energy who lived near an active plant would have moved away years ago. There hasn't been a new nuclear plant built in this country since the Three Mile Island accident occurred.

And while the NEI survey excluded electric company employees - who might either work at the local nuclear plant or could be predisposed to have favorable opinions regarding the energy source - it also isn't a revelation that people living near these types of facilities might support a new one being built near them.

After all, a power plant of any kind is usually a major employer and taxpayer in the communities in which they are located. And with the escalating cost of oil and natural gas that is used to run fossil fuel-driven generation plants, nuclear power looks better by comparison.

So with license applications for more than 25 new nuclear plants currently pending before the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, it begs the question: Can a majority of Americans can put the specter of Three Mile Island behind them?

To some extent, I think it depends upon what happens with the debate over the nuclear waste repository that has been proposed for Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

The Associated Press reported Friday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he has been assured by the Obama administration that it will seek to eliminate funding in 2011 for a review needed to open the nuclear waste site, which is located 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Obama opposes the use of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste dump, and Energy Department officials have said it's the administration's policy that Yucca Mountain would never be used.

But the licensing process continues, although on Wednesday, the Senate voted to cut funding for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's review to $29 million in 2010. The president had requested $56 million.

Obama administration officials have said a commission will be appointed to find alternatives to Yucca Mountain, which according to the latest estimates

If the Yucca Mountain repository plan really is dead, it seems to me that it doesn't make much sense to increase the number of nuclear power plants in this country, thereby exponentially increasing the amount of nuclear waste. But a couple more years worth of increases in energy costs might be a game-changer in terms of public opinion.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home