Energy | Ecotrope

What Oregonians think about nuclear energy now

Ecotrope | March 30, 2011 4:59 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:39 p.m.

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A telephone poll of 500 Oregon residents conducted last week shows a near-even split in Oregonian's support for nuclear power, but the opposition has gotten stronger since a similar poll last year.

A telephone poll of 500 Oregon residents conducted last week shows a near-even split in Oregonian's support for nuclear power, but the opposition has gotten stronger since a similar poll last year.

Some interesting findings came out of a poll conducted last week for OPB and Fox 12 news. The survey found Oregonians are still evenly split in their support for nuclear energy – just as they were last June. But the opposition is stronger now than it was in a similar poll taken last year.

As Japan struggles to respond to the threat of a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, last week’s poll found 47 percent support for nuclear energy as a power source in Oregon and 46 percent opposition.

But the percentage who strongly oppose nuclear power jumped from 21 percent last year to 32 percent in last week’s poll. (Support was strongest among males, 58 percent, and Republicans, 65 percent. And surprising to me was the stark contrast between men and women in the answer to the question “Do you think nuclear power is safe?” 61 percent of men and only 33 percent of women said yes.).

Here’s what John Horvick, an associate with the research group Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall, said about the poll results:

[audio href=”http://stream2.opb.org:9000/download/?f=news/2011/03/0329nuclearpoll.mp3” title=”John Horvick”]”The overall opposition and support held steady. We haven’t seen a real decline in support of nuclear energy use as a state overall. But I think it is right to say those folks who are opposed, a group of them, it solidified their opposition to become more strongly opposed.”[/audio]

Meanwhile, a national poll released last week showed support for nuclear is dropping among Americans as a whole. In 2008, 57 percent of people polled nationally supported development of new nuclear plants in the U.S. This month, that number was down to 43 percent.

Another finding from the Oregon poll was that most Oregonians – 63 percent – aren’t worried about their health being harmed by the nuclear plant failure in Japan. Levels of concern did vary by education level, gender, and age. Those with a high school degree or less (51%), women (42%), those 55+ years old (42%) were the most concerned about being harmed.

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