August 2001 IBEW Journal
A Clean Record
Nuclear energy offers important environmental benefits, allowing utilities to produce electricity with little or no polluting air emissions. Nuclear power plants discharge no greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxidean important consideration at a time of international concern about global warming.
Clean nuclear energy helps preserve the environment and helps states attain compliance with the U.S. Clean Air Act. Nuclear power plants now operating in the United States crank out power without pumping carbon dioxide or smog-causing pollutants into the atmosphere, concluded a Washington Post editorial of May 12.
As Nuclear Energy Institute CEO Joe F. Colvin points out, Nuclear energy is the United States leading emission-free source of electricity, and is the only expandable, large-scale electricity source that does not emit air pollutants and can meet the base-load energy demands of a growing, modern economy.
Nuclear energy has minimal impact on the environment because it does not emit harmful gases, isolates its waste from the environment, and requires less area to produce the same amount of electricity than do other sources, notes the NEI.
Growing Public Support For Nuclear Power
U. S. public support for nuclear power is growing as people become more concerned about energy shortages and price increases. The nuclear industrys solid safety performance over the past decade clearly has affected public opinion of nuclear energy as that safety record eclipses 22-year-old memories of Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.
In a startling shift from views held consistently for more than a generation, energy-strapped Californians now strongly favor nuclear power as a means of providing more electricity, reported The San Francisco Chronicle in May. A statewide Field Poll shows that 59 percent of those surveyed support building new nuclear power plants in the statecompared with 36 percent who oppose the idea and 5 percent undecided. That represents the first time since 1978a year before the nuclear accident at Three Mile Islandthat Californians have approved of more nuclear power, the Chronicle said. And it is a complete reversal from the last time Field polled on the issue in 1984, when Californians rejected more nuclear power by a 2-to-1 ratio.
And nationally, two-thirds of U.S. adults66 percentnow support building more nuclear power plants, compared with 51 percent in January 2001 and 42 percent in October 1999, according to national opinion surveys for NEI conducted by Bisconti Research, Inc. and Bruskin Research. Thats an increase of 24 percentage points over the past year and a half. Nationwide, 73 percent of the public agreed that the United States should keep the option to build more nuclear energy plants in the future. The survey also found increased public support for renewing the federal licenses of nuclear power plants.