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Is nuclear power attractive or risky? In Minnesota, it’s both.

Christian Science Monitor, By Colette Davidson Special correspondent @kolet_ink May 1, 2023|MONTICELLO, MINN.

At a clearing in the brush, a clunky wooden dock is still pulled onshore for the season amid piles of dirty snow. Usually, this boat landing at the Montissippi Regional Park is a popular spot for amateurs to fish bass and walleye from the Mississippi River.  

But after the Xcel Energy nuclear plant – just half a mile away – announced in March that radioactive material had leaked twice from a faulty pipe since November, some locals say they’re worried about what’s in the water. ……………………….

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Health say the risks to the public from the leaks of water contaminated with tritium – totaling a little more than 400,000 gallons – are minimal and have not affected public drinking water. Xcel Energy powered down its Monticello plant in mid-March for maintenance, once the second leak had been discovered. 

That has done little to assuage the fears of local residents, however, who say the utility company should have notified the public earlier about the leak. 

……………………………..  a renewed push for nuclear energy, even among former skeptics. Yet building public trust remains a key challenge, in Minnesota and across the nation – particularly in the wake of incidents like the one in Monticello. 


Reliance, but also restrictions

The U.S. gets approximately 19% of its electricity from nuclear power, according to the Energy Information Administration. While states need to go through the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for licensing approval, much of the challenge of building nuclear energy plants or considering new nuclear technologies is getting past state legislation.  

Minnesota – which gets 24% of its electricity from two nuclear power plants – is one of 12 states that currently have a moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power facilities. That has led proponents here to focus their efforts instead on the latest technologies, like small modular reactors………..

……………  in the past five years, more Minnesota Democrats have come around to the idea of nuclear energy – an issue that once split along party lines.  

This mirrors a wider national trend. In 2023 alone, there have been close to 100 bills across 20 states to repeal moratoriums or study nuclear energy, according to the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, based in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Department of Energy recently invested nearly $2 billion in TerraPower’s construction of a nuclear reactor in Kemmerer, Wyoming, to replace a retiring coal plant. And John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, has openly supported nuclear energy….

Evolving concerns on safety 

That’s not to say there aren’t concerns about nuclear from within the climate advocacy community. With the exception of the Vogtle plant in Burke County, Georgia – which boasts next-generation technology – the U.S. reactor fleet is of the same or similar generation as the one involved in Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011.  

“Whether they’re identical in design or not, they all have the same level of vulnerability,” says Edwin Lyman, a physicist and the director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a national watchdog. …………………………..

Dr. Lyman says the Biden administration, in its enthusiasm to tackle carbon emissions and roll out new nuclear plants, must be careful not to forgo needed safety rules. That becomes even more essential as climate change brings higher winds and flooding, the biggest risks for a reactor short-circuit. Nuclear operators have also struggled with how to store waste long term. New waste is stored in pools before being transferred to dry casks, which can take up land space indefinitely.

Mixed feelings by the Mississippi 

The public seems to be on board with putting more time and research into nuclear energy. According to an April Gallup poll, 55% of Americans support nuclear energy, the highest level in a decade.  

But for those living near nuclear plants, there are still concerns about safety and security – from the quality of groundwater to the threat of domestic terrorism. Out on the trail at Montissippi Regional Park in Monticello, locals joke that their tomatoes are extra large thanks to their proximity to the Xcel plant. Others say they’ve been drinking bottled water since the leak. 

“When those Chinese surveillance balloons flew overhead [in February], I did wonder, would the nuclear plant be a target?” says Betty, out for a walk with her husband Jack. Betty used to work for the city of Monticello and did not want to identify herself by her full name.

While the immediate risks may be small, she says she and her husband “live in the shadow of the nuclear plant,” which is a half mile from their house. Every year, Xcel Energy distributes a free calendar, which includes evacuation information in the event of disaster. ……………………………


May 3, 2023 Posted by | public opinion, USA | Leave a comment

The British government doesn’t want to talk about its nuclear weapons. The British public does

Women are far less likely than men to support UK possession (28 percent of women, compared with 53 percent of men)

Bulletin, By Tim StreetHarry SpencerShane Ward | April 6, 2023

In January 2023 British Pugwash and the polling company Savanta conducted a survey of UK public opinion on nuclear weapons issues and potential support for policies that advance nuclear arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation.

The poll involved 2,320 UK adults who were asked about the Russia-Ukraine war, the United Kingdom’s ongoing replacement of its nuclear weapon system, the possibility that US nuclear weapons will again be stationed in the United Kingdom, the significant increase to the UK’s nuclear warhead stockpile cap, and the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Our polling results found some notable differences between the British public’s views and the policies of the UK government concerning nuclear weapons. While 40 percent of poll respondents support the United Kingdom possessing nuclear weapons, there is significant support for policies that would control, limit, or even eliminate the UK’s nuclear weapons—including among supporters of nuclear possession. For example, over a third of those who support the UK’s possession of nuclear weapons also support joining a multilateral disarmament treaty.

Despite the challenges involved, especially at a time of war in Europe, we at British Pugwash see an opportunity for UK political parties to adopt policies more supportive of nuclear arms control and disarmament. Our key findings revealed these differences between government policy and public opinion:

Use of nuclear weapons. The UK government’s policy is to consider using nuclear weapons “only in extreme circumstances of self-defence, including the defence of our NATO allies.” UK and NATO policy does not rule out the first use of nuclear weapons.

Our poll found that 48 percent of UK adults oppose the first use of nuclear weapons by the United Kingdom, and only 40 percent support first use. This finding builds on the results of the survey British Pugwash conducted in 2021, which found that two-thirds of the British public want NATO to renounce the first use of nuclear weapons.

Replacing nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom is replacing all four parts of its nuclear weapons system: submarines, missiles, warheads, and associated infrastructure. The estimated cost of the four new nuclear-armed submarines is £31 billion (about $38 billion), and the estimated total cost of replacing nuclear weapons between 2019 and 2070 is at least £172 billion ($212 billion).

Our poll found that 42 percent of UK adults think the estimated cost of replacing the UK’s nuclear weapons does not represent value for money.

Stationing US nuclear weapons in the United KingdomThe UK government has previously allowed US nuclear weapons and nuclear-capable aircraft to be stored, maintained, and operated from UK military bases. Although the United Kingdom has not hosted US nuclear weapons since 2008, in April 2022 an analysis of US Defense Department documents reported that a facility at the Royal Air Force’s Lakenheath base in Suffolk—which is used by the US Air Force—was being upgraded, potentially allowing the United States to again deploy nuclear weapons there.

British public opinion is split over allowing the United States to deploy nuclear weapons on UK territory. Our poll found that 34 percent of UK adults oppose, and 32 percent support, stationing US nuclear weapons in the United Kingdom.

Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In 2017, 122 states voted in support of the Treaty, which prohibits the development, testing, production, acquisition, possession, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons, as well as any threat to use them. The United Kingdom has not signed or ratified the treaty. To join the treaty, the country would have to dismantle its nuclear arsenal or present a legally binding plan to do so.

Our poll found that 39 percent of UK adults support joining the ban treaty. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, 48 percent support joining the treaty, and only 13 percent are opposed.

Nuclear weapons possession. The United Kingdom is one of only nine countries possessing nuclear weapons. Our poll found that 40 percent of UK adults are in favor of possession. Women are far less likely than men to support UK possession (28 percent of women, compared with 53 percent of men). Some 27 percent of UK adults oppose UK nuclear possession, 29 percent neither support nor oppose nuclear possession, and 5 percent said they “don’t know” in response to this question.

Our poll also found that a minority of UK adults (39 percent) fully support the government’s decision to increase the UK’s nuclear warhead stockpile cap.

Even among supporters of nuclear possession, we found significant concerns about the government’s approach to nuclear weapons. For example, 23 percent of those who support nuclear possession don’t think the estimated cost of replacing the UK’s nuclear weapons represents value for money.

Furthermore, 38 percent of those who support UK nuclear possession do not want the military to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict. Notably, 35 percent of those who currently support the possession of nuclear weapons also want the United Kingdom to join the international ban treaty that would eliminate the country’s nuclear arsenal.

War in Ukraine. Our data indicate that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has significantly strengthened support for UK possession of nuclear weapons among those who already favored possession. Two-thirds of those who support nuclear possession said the conflict strengthened their position on this issue.

We also saw increases in support for nuclear weapons possession among those who otherwise oppose nuclear possession. In our poll, 16 percent of those who oppose UK possession of nuclear weapons said the Ukraine conflict had increased their support for possession.

Responses to this particular question likely reflect wider public support for UK involvement in the Ukraine conflict and may thus be temporary. Moreover, 39 percent of UK adults said the Ukraine conflict had “made no difference” to their view on UK nuclear possession. Overall, our data suggest that a key impact of the Ukraine war has been to reinforce support for UK nuclear possession among UK adults who already held this view.

Uncertainty and ambivalence. Nearly a third of respondents gave an “on the fence” answer to several of the questions posed. For example, 29 percent said they did not support or oppose the UK’s possession of nuclear weapons; 30 percent said they neither support nor oppose the rise in the nuclear warhead stockpile cap; 28 percent said they neither support nor oppose US nuclear weapons again being stationed in the United Kingdom; and 29 percent said they “don’t know” or are “unsure” whether the estimated cost of the UK nuclear weapons replacement program represents value for money.

These findings indicate that there is significant uncertainty about, and ambivalence toward, nuclear weapons among UK adults.

Why our survey matters.………………………………………………………………………………..

Greater public and parliamentary participation in decision making would improve the quality and legitimacy of the United Kingdom’s international policy. Yet decisions on nuclear weapons (and national security more generally) are largely made behind closed doors. The lack of democracy, transparency, and accountability surrounding nuclear weapons has a clear impact on the British public’s interest in and understanding of the issues. The findings of our poll may partly be explained by the lack of awareness and the absence of public debate on nuclear matters in the United Kingdom. The large number of “don’t know” and “on the fence” responses indicates that many UK adults do not feel well enough informed to make a judgment on these issues.

…………………………………………………………….. Our polling data clearly show a sizable gap between public attitudes and the government’s nuclear weapons policy. With a UK general election likely to be held in 2024, British political parties should be developing policies that better represent public views on nuclear weapons issues—and increase democracy, transparency, and accountability in defense and foreign policy more generally.

April 8, 2023 Posted by | public opinion, UK | Leave a comment

Aukus fallout: as US-China tensions grow, Australians reveal mixed feelings about nuclear submarine pact

  • Surveys reveal concerns that Aukus won’t make Australia safer, while fears grow of ‘secretive policymaking and little government accountability’
  • Some observers have also questioned the high cost of Aukus to taxpayers, suggesting there are other, less expensive ways to ‘deter China’

Su-Lin Tan
 in Singapore
, 12 Feb, 2023

Australia becoming “more dependent” on the United States following the signing of the Aukus pact, or will the alliance make the country a safer place?

The results of different surveys about the trilateral partnership have revealed a complex set of sentiments among Australians about the country’s current geopolitical climate, as US-China tensions grow………… [Subscribers only] more

February 12, 2023 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, public opinion | Leave a comment

One Year After Russia Annexed Crimea, Locals Preferred Moscow To Kiev

Kenneth Rapoza, Senior Contributor, Mar 20, 2015,

The U.S and European Union may want to save Crimeans from themselves. But the Crimeans are happy right where they are.

One year after the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula in the Black Sea, poll after poll shows that the locals there — be they Ukrainians, ethnic Russians or Tatars are mostly all in agreement: life with Russia is better than life with Ukraine.

Little has changed over the last 12 months.  Despite huge efforts on the part of Kiev, Brussels, Washington and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the bulk of humanity living on the Black Sea peninsula believe the referendum to secede from Ukraine was legit.  At some point, the West will have to recognize Crimea’s right to self rule. Unless we are all to believe that the locals polled by Gallup and GfK were done so with FSB bogey men standing by with guns in their hands.

In June 2014, a Gallup poll with the Broadcasting Board of Governors asked Crimeans if the results in the March 16, 2014 referendum to secede reflected the views of the people.  A total of 82.8% of Crimeans said yes.  When broken down by ethnicity, 93.6% of ethnic Russians said they believed the vote to secede was legitimate, while 68.4% of Ukrainians felt so. Moreover, when asked if joining Russia will ultimately make life better for them and their family, 73.9% said yes while 5.5% said No.

In February 2015, a poll by German polling firm GfK revealed that attitudes have not changed. When asked “Do you endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea?”, a total of 82% of the respondents answered “yes, definitely,” and another 11% answered “yes, for the most part.” Only 2% said they didn’t know, and another 2% said no. Three percent did not specify their position.

With two studies out of the way, both Western-based, it seems without question that the vast majority of Crimeans do not feel they were duped into voting for annexation, and that life with Russia will be better for them and their families than life with Ukraine. A year ago this week, 83% of Crimeans went to the polling stations and almost 97% expressed support for reunification with their former Soviet parent. The majority of people living on the peninsula are ethnic Russians.

The U.S. made a big deal about the rights of ethnic minorities there known as the Tatars, which account for around 10% of the population.  Of the 4% total that said they did not endorse Russia’s annexation, the vast majority — 55% — said that they feel that way because they believe it should have been allowed by Kiev in accordance with international law. Another 24% said the referendum vote was “held under pressure”, which means political or military threats to vote and vote in favor.

The GfK survey also asked if the Ukrainian media have given Crimea a fair assessment. Only 1% said that the Ukrainian media “provides entirely truthful information” and only 4% said it was “more often truthful than deceitful.”

For now, the Gallup and GfK polls show a deeply divided Ukraine. The division of political allegiances ultimately threatens Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Only 19% in the east and 26.8% in the southeast think Ukraine should join the European Union, while 84.2% in the west believe Ukraine is a natural fit with the E.U..  Nearly 60% in the north agree that E.U. is the place to be, and just under half in the center part of the country want E.U. integration.

NATO integration is even less supported in the southeast and east, and a little over a third in the center and north agree that Ukraine should join the Western military powers. In the west, that number rises to 53%.

Those numbers also coincide with Ukraine’s trust or distrust with Washington. The pro-integration west, north and center portions of Ukraine all view the U.S. role in the crisis as mostly positive.  Well under a third say so in the east and southeast, and almost no one, including the Tatars, believe so in Crimea, GfK poll data suggests.

Interestingly enough, despite Russia’s involvement in the separatist movement in eastern Ukraine, only 35.7% of people polled there said they viewed Russia’s involvement as mostly positive while 71.3% of Crimeans were more in line with Russia’s world view, according to the year old poll from Gallup.

This week, the State Department’s press secretary Jen Psaki said sanctions on Russia will continue until Crimea is returned to Ukraine. Both the State Department and Treasury Department did not clarify whether that was an actual policy statement, nor whether that included the sectoral sanctions which were applied in a third round of sanctions last July following the downing of Malaysian flight MH17 over east Ukraine.

February 6, 2023 Posted by | public opinion, Russia | Leave a comment

The Generational Divide Over Nuclear Power

The scientists at the Cigéo lab in France are not including the risk of deliberate attacks in their research. All of this – the security risks, the enormous uncertainty around waste, the potential for nuclear proliferation – concerns the activists at the House of Resistance. Christine Ro 21 Oct 22

Maud Simon is one of the younger residents of the House of Resistance, a home in the bucolic French commune of Bure. The setting is peaceful, with fewer than 100 residents amidst the fields and cottages.

But Simon and her housemates want disruption. The activists, part of the anti-nuclear network Sortir du nucléaire, purchased this house back in 2006 to mobilize against the nearby Cigéo research laboratory, where scientists are testing deep geological disposal for eventually storing nuclear waste. The activists say there hasn’t been enough information about the risks of this research, and are opposed more generally to the legitimation of nuclear energy given its risks.

The House of Resistance is now home to a fluctuating population of about 5 to 40 people, though this can swell to as many as 400 during a special event.

Simon has been living here for two years. She believes that many young French people favor nuclear energy because of propaganda disseminated by the pro-nuclear lobby, which has spread for instance to YouTube. She’s somewhat unusual, as she grew up in an anti-nuclear family.

A short drive away is the reason that Simon and her fellow protestors chose this site.

To get to the heart of the Cigéo nuclear research laboratory, I’m squeezed with nine other people into an elevator descending 490 meters.

Lasting five minutes, it’s the longest lift ride of my life.

In this peaceful corner of northeast France, scientists are working on a problem that no one, in any country, has solved: what to do permanently with the waste produced by nuclear power generation. In France the total inventory of such waste amounted to 1.7 million m3 at the end of 2020, according to the French National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (Andra), which operates the Cigéo site.

Our guide’s name at the Cigéo facility is, appropriately enough, Jacques Delay. Dealing with the waste problem involves a high degree of uncertainty and epic timescales (Switzerland, for instance, requires planning for up to 1 million years of containment for any deep geological repository there).

Geologist Delay says that the scientists are expecting technology to continue progressing at its current rate. So certain decisions will be left to future scientists.

Andra hopes to begin operating long-term disposal by 2050, and to have reversible storage until about 2150, in case future scientists come up with a better solution. Then the deep geological disposal would be sealed off completely.

Every 25 metres or so in the Cigéo facility, the construction of the drifts (passageways) changes, to allow for years-long experiments on factors like corrosion and swelling. Walls are lined with concrete of different quality and rigidity levels, for instance. The shape of the drifts fluctuates as well. Scientists here run tests with waste after it’s waited on the surface for 70 years, and cooled to below 90°C.

The scientists at the Cigéo lab in France are not including the risk of deliberate attacks in their research. All of this – the security risks, the enormous uncertainty around waste, the potential for nuclear proliferation – concerns the activists at the House of Resistance.

Nuclear science like that on display at Cigéo is clearly a point of pride in France, which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and has embraced nuclear energy much more than its neighboring countries. Yves Marignac, who leads the Nuclear and Fossil Energy Unit at the négaWatt Association, notes, “There’s no equivalent worldwide of a country that has developed so much nuclear industry relative to its size.”

The French nuclear fleet is large but not always reliable. Currently, half of France’s currently 56 nuclear reactors are currently out of operation due to corrosion and maintenance issues.

Rainer Baake, the managing director of the Climate Neutrality Foundation in Germany, believes that young people are more pro-nuclear because “they never experienced nuclear fallout.” The former politician says that Germans were very enthusiastic about nuclear energy until the Chernobyl disaster, which led to radioactivity contaminating German gardens. He’s helped shape Germany’s subsequent transition away from nuclear energy, which was meant to have been completed in 2022 but has now been postponed due to the energy supply crisis.

Nuclear is increasingly popular among young people – for instance in Finland, home to the world’s first deep geological repository for nuclear waste – not only because they have less memory of the risks, but also because of widespread concern about climate change. Unlike fossil fuels, nuclear energy is mostly emissions-free; unlike solar and wind energy, it can operate 24/7. And climate anxiety is more pressing than radiophobia for many people who grew up after the Cold War.

The world’s most famous youth climate activist, Greta Thunberg, declared on October 12 that it would be a mistake for Germany to phase out nuclear energy altogether. This set her apart from political units like Germany’s Green Party – which was one of the parties that negotiated for the closure of nuclear plants by the end of 2022 – and long-established environmental organizations like Greenpeace.

Thunberg’s support for nuclear power appears somewhat ambivalent, as she was arguing that nuclear should not be eased off in favor of coal plants, which are set to continue operating in Germany until 2030. After all, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu has argued, air pollution from fossil fuels kills more people than the harms from nuclear energy.

Some young people are all in on nuclear. In North America, “nuclear bros” show that nuclear energy’s popularity is picking up steam among young men.

Nuclear energy is one of the most contentious topics within the environmental movement. To ensure its relevance going forward, the anti-nuclear camp will need to make its core issues – including safety, costs, nuclear proliferation, and the pesky problem of nuclear waste – resonate with more young people like Simon.

October 21, 2022 Posted by | France, public opinion | Leave a comment

Protests in 40+ US Cities Demand De-escalation as Poll Shows Surging Fear of Nuclear War

“Anyone paying attention should be worried about the rising dangers of nuclear war, but what we really need is action,” said one organizer.

Common Dreama, JULIA CONLEY, October 14, 2022,

As new polling showed this week that Americans’ fear of nuclear war has steadily grown since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, anti-nuclear campaigners on Friday called on federal lawmakers to take action to mitigate those fears and ensure the U.S. is doing all it can to deescalate tensions with other nuclear powers.

Anti-war groups including Peace Action and RootsAction organized picket lines at the offices of U.S. senators and representatives in more than 40 cities across 20 states, calling on lawmakers to push for a ceasefire in Ukraine, the revival of anti-nuclear treaties the U.S. has exited in recent years, and other legislative actions to prevent nuclear catastrophe.

“Anyone paying attention should be worried about the rising dangers of nuclear war, but what we really need is action,” Norman Solomon, co-founder of RootsAction, told Common Dreams. “Picket lines at so many congressional offices across the country convey that more and more constituents are fed up with the timidity of elected officials, who’ve refused to acknowledge the extent of the current grave dangers of nuclear war, much less speak out and take action to mitigate those dangers.”

The most recent polling released by Reuters/Ipsos on Monday showed that 58% of Americans fear the U.S. is headed toward nuclear war.

……………….. “The level of anxiety is something that I haven’t seen since the Cuban missile crisis,” Peter Kuznick, a history professor and director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University, told The Hill. “And that was short-lived. This has gone on for months now.”

Campaigners at “Defuse Nuclear War” picket lines on Friday called on members of Congress to allay those concerns by:

  • Adopting a “no first use” policy regarding nuclear weapons, to restrict when the president of the United States can consider a nuclear strike and signal that the weapons are for deterrence rather than the fighting of wars;
  • Pushing for the U.S. to reenter the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which it withdrew from in 2002, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which it left in in 2019;
  • Passing H.R. 1185, which calls on the president “to embrace the goals and provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and make nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of U.S. national security policy;”
  • Redirecting military spending, which makes up half the country’s discretionary budget, to ensure Americans have “adequate healthcare, education, housing, and other basic needs” and that the U.S. is taking far-reaching climate action; and
  • Pushing the Biden administration to take nuclear weapons off “hair-trigger alert,” which enables their rapid launch and “increases the chance of a launch in response to a false alarm,” according to Defuse Nuclear War organizers.

…………………………… In addition to Friday’s pickets, campaigners are organizing a Day of Action on Sunday, with supporters holding demonstrations, handing out fliers, and prominently displaying banners calling for a deescalation of the nuclear threat.

October 16, 2022 Posted by | public opinion, USA | Leave a comment

Interviews With Donetsk Residents After Joining Russia

Eva Bartlett 1 Oct 2022Given the predictable Western negation of the referendum to join Russia, and following having done many interviews with people during the referendum, yesterday I did some follow up interviews with Donetsk residents, asking their opinions on joining Russia

October 2, 2022 Posted by | public opinion, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Public opinion in UK – overwhelming support for solar and wind energy

The UK’s general public is overwhelmingly supportive in building new
wind and solar farms in order to tackle the ongoing cost of energy crisis,
according to Survation. Identified within polling released by Survation and
commissioned by RenewableUK, the data showcased that almost every
constituency in the UK is in favour of developing renewable generation
sites in a bid to reduce the cost of energy.

In fact, 77% of people in the
UK believe the government should use new wind and solar farms to reduce
electricity bills, with 76% of people also in support of building renewable
energy projects in their local area, according to Survation’s data.

This contradicts the new prime Minister, Liz Truss’ previous statement about
solar farms being “paraphernalia”, as in fact the majority of the
general public thoroughly support the development of these farms to tackle
the energy crisis. Causing a further headache for Truss is the fact that
84% of those who backed the Tories at the last election now urge the
government to use new wind and solar farms to cut electricity bills. 81% of
2019 Tory voters also support a renewable energy project being developed in
their local area.

 Current 8th Sept 2022

September 19, 2022 Posted by | ENERGY, politics, public opinion, UK | Leave a comment

Billionaires from USA and Denmark have inordinate influence on public opinion about molten salt nuclear reactors

 Elon Musk and Bill Gates are the two best-known (energy) billionaires, but
there are many more that invest their money in energy innovation.
Denmark’s richest man is a big investor in a startup that researches
molten salt as a form of energy storage. The perception of energy
billionaires often influences the opinion of the general public vis-a-vis
certain energy innovations. 

Oil Price 22nd May 2022

May 26, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, public opinion | Leave a comment

Americans Divided on Nuclear Energy

News Gallup poll. BY LYDIA SAAD, 20 May 22


  • 51% of Americans favor, 47% oppose nuclear energy, similar to 2019
  • Recent views contrast with 2004 to 2015, when majorities backed it
  • Republicans and independents in favor, but not Democrats

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans are evenly split on whether nuclear energy should be a source of electricity in the U.S., with 51% in favor and 47% opposed. Three years ago, the two camps were tied at 49%, while in 2016, the majority (54%) opposed nuclear power.

Americans’ relatively limited support for nuclear energy in recent years contrasts with more solid backing from 2004 to 2015, when majorities of between 53% and 62% favored it.

……………………….. As Gallup has found previously, support for nuclear energy also differs sharply by gender, while it varies modestly by education. Older adults are slightly more positive than those younger than 55, but differences by age have been less consistent over time.

  • Sixty-three percent of men versus 39% of women are in favor of using nuclear energy for electricity.
  • Support by education ranges from 57% of college graduates to 50% of those with some college experience and 45% of those with no college.
  • A 57% majority of adults 55 and older favor nuclear energy, compared with half of 18- to 34-year-olds and 45% of those aged 35 to 54.


May 21, 2022 Posted by | public opinion, USA | Leave a comment

Energy Department’s own survey shows 8 in 10 Britons support onshore wind – and the Nuclear Free Local Authorities says the Government should back it

Whilst government ministers continue to deride onshore wind as
‘unpopular’, the energy department’s recent public survey shows
otherwise – with 8 in 10 Britons surveyed expressing their support for
the technology, over twice the number endorsing new nuclear – leading the
Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) to urge the UK government to back it.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has
collected data every quarter since 2012, recording responses from the
public to a range of energy related questions. The latest public attitude
survey was carried out over the Winter of 2021/22 and published at the end
of last month.

The results reveal continued strong support for renewables,
with onshore wind receiving a favourable response. Contrary to the myth
that onshore wind is unpopular, only 4% of those surveyed registered their
opposition, with 8 in 10 saying they supported it. By way of contrast only
37% of participants supported the development of nuclear energy and only
17% supported the resumption of fracking for shale gas. The government’s
own UK Energy Security Strategy concedes that ‘Onshore wind is one of the
cheapest forms of renewable power’, yet there has been no public funding
made available, nor any target for new generation set, with only a vague
promise to ‘consult this year on developing local partnerships for a
limited number of supportive communities who wish to host new onshore wind
infrastructure in return for benefits, including lower energy bills’.

 NFLA 20th April 2022

April 21, 2022 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, public opinion, renewable | Leave a comment

Nearly half of Americans concerned about nuclear war amid Russia-Ukraine invasion

half of Americans concerned about nuclear war amid Russia-Ukraine invasion
by: The Associated Press via Nexstar Media Wire

Mar 28, 2022  WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia’s war on Ukraine has most Americans at least somewhat worried that the U.S. will be drawn directly into the conflict and could be targeted with nuclear weapons, with a new poll reflecting a level of anxiety that has echoes of the Cold War era.

Close to half of Americans say they are very concerned that Russia would directly target the U.S. with nuclear weapons, and an additional three in 10 are somewhat concerned about that, according to the new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Russian President Vladimir Putin placed his country’s nuclear forces on high alert shortly after the Feb. 24 invasion.

Roughly nine in 10 Americans are at least somewhat concerned that Putin might use a nuclear weapon against Ukraine, including about six in 10 who are very concerned………

March 29, 2022 Posted by | public opinion, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Some Brits not very impressed with their government’s newbound love affair with nuclear power.

Nuclear energy push is not powered by sense  Readers fail to see the logic behind the government’s drive to go for the nuclear option to generate electricity

There is much about this government’s – and, to its shame, Labour’s – newfound love affair with nuclear power that makes no sense (Johnson announces aim for UK to get 25% of electricity from nuclear power, 21 March).

First, you cannot just turn off a nuclear power station. If we have 25% of our electricity generated by nuclear, then on days when all our needs can be met by renewables we will have to turn off 25% of our much cheaper renewable feed while using expensive, taxpayer-subsidised nuclear generation.

Second, we have no way of dealing with the mountains of dangerous high-level and intermediate-level waste that has been accruing since the 1950s. To generate more is sheer madness.

Third, nuclear power stations are vulnerable to the elements and to hostile attack – cyber, terrorist, state actors etc. Recent events in the Ukraine make this very real.

Fourth, the old argument about what we do when the wind isn’t blowing and the skies are overcast over the whole of the UK, which doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny now, falls away completely if we were to invest just a small amount of the taxpayer money that will go to the nuclear industry into research and development of electricity storage.

Finally, given the nuclear industry’s track record of bringing in plants well over budget, decades late, the proposed programme is not going to be realised until 2060 at the earliest. Why on earth are we contemplating it?
John French
Brockweir, Gloucestershire

Your report states that “electricity demand is expected to rise steadily in the next decade”. The same justification was used in 2006, when the Labour government first committed to further nuclear power stations. Based on the official forecasts issued in 2006, we should by now be consuming at least 15% more electricity than we were then.

But we are not. UK electricity consumption has in practice gone down by more than 15% since 2006. In the interim, no new nuclear power stations have been added to the system. It hasn’t collapsed, and is far less carbon-intensive.

Surely we aren’t getting fooled again by the same spurious rhetoric about endless consumption growth? In that immortal phrase of the 1970s: “Save it. You know it makes sense.”
Andrew Warren
Chairman, British Energy Efficiency Federatio

 The dash to fossil fuels is not the environmental disaster set out by António Guterres (Ukraine war threatens global heating goals, warns UN chief, 21 March). It is, at worst, the replacement of existing hydrocarbons purchased from Russia. In the longer term, it is clear that alternative renewable energy sources will displace fossil fuels and most countries will wish to do this as quickly as possible.

he government’s desire, supported by Labour, for increased nuclear power generation is bizarre. A wind turbine capable of producing 15MW can be installed offshore for £10m. Sizewell C is expected to cost £20bn and produce 3.2GW of electricity – this does not include decommissioning costs. To generate 3.2GW would need 214 turbines costing £3.2bn, albeit some money would need to be spent on storage capacity. The government plans to invest £1.7bn in Sizewell C. How is spending more than five times as much on a controversial power source that takes 10 years to build a good idea?
John Blanning

March 24, 2022 Posted by | public opinion, UK | Leave a comment

Public Opposition to Nuclear Power

Public Opposition to Nuclear Power. 19, 2022

Nuclear power is not popular with the public in most countries. After the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011, a global Ipsos survey put global public opposition at 62% averaged out, with it being much higher in some countries e.g. 79% in Germany.  94% voted against it in a referendum in Italy in the wake of Fukushima. 

While opposition remain strong in most places around the world, with concerns about climate change rising, there have been some shifts in view in some countries, for example, in the USA , at least according to a survey by Bisconti. But even in countries that are relatively pro-nuclear, public support for it is not that strong. For example, it was reportedly at 38% in 2021 in the UK, compared to 79% support level for renewables, with just 2% opposed to them. 

Though its strength may have varied over time, opposition to civil nuclear power has been a world-wide phenomenon attracting people in many countries. To some extent, it grew out of opposition to nuclear weapons, a grass roots response which expanded significantly in the 1960s in Europe in particular, and continued at varying levels right up to the end of the cold war in the late 1990s, and indeed exists still, as does the threat of nuclear war.  

Opposition specifically to civil nuclear power emerged in the early 1970s, but, although it drew on some of the same roots as opposition to atomic weapons, it took on its own character and dynamic. In particular, it reflected increasing generational conflicts and the rise of an ‘alternativist’ anti-establishment counter culture amongst young people in the West. It also reflected growing environmental concerns, and support for alternative energy, as indicted by the ubiquitous ‘smiling sun’ graphic part of ‘Nuclear Power? No thanks!’ campaign button that had originated in Denmark in 1975. 

Although at times quite militant, there was a preference, shared with the anti-bomb movement, for non-violent direct action/passive resistance. For example, in the USA, in the 1970’s there were mass peaceful demonstrations at nuclear sites, with, in May 1977 a 2,500 strong citizens ‘sit down’ occupation of the site of the proposed reactor at Seabrook in New Hampshire, leading to 1,400 people being arrested and detained. The late 1970s also saw some of the largest demonstrations against nuclear power in the UK, at the proposed site of the Torness nuclear power station in Scotland, with 5,000 demonstrating in 1978 and up to 10,000 the following year. 

Although at times quite militant, there was a preference, shared with the anti-bomb movement, for non-violent direct action/passive resistance. For example, in the USA, in the 1970’s there were mass peaceful demonstrations at nuclear sites, with, in May 1977 a 2,500 strong citizens ‘sit down’ occupation of the site of the proposed reactor at Seabrook in New Hampshire, leading to 1,400 people being arrested and detained. The late 1970s also saw some of the largest demonstrations against nuclear power in the UK, at the proposed site of the Torness nuclear power station in Scotland, with 5,000 demonstrating in 1978 and up to 10,000 the following year. 

However, that was avoided. Indeed, nuclear opposition, locally and globally, was subsequently renewed, reinforced and widened, with many new participants becoming involved, by nuclear accidents like that at Three Mile Island in the USA in 1979, Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986 and Fukushima in Japan in 2011. The industry certainly faced set back after each of these events, with public opposition increasing. For example, following the Three Mile Island accident, an anti-nuclear protest was held in New York City, involving 200,000 people; Chernobyl led to protests around the world, including up to 200,000 opposing Italy’s nuclear plans; and directly after Fukushima, 60,000 people marched in opposition to nuclear in central Tokyo and again, in 2012, 75,000 people joined a march, this in a country where public displays of dissention on any issue were rare.

Following Fukushima, opposition to nuclear spread across Asia. For example, 130,000 people took to the streets in Taiwan in March 2014 calling for a nuclear phase out. Strong local opposition also emerged in South Korea and Thailand and continued in India. From often being easily dismissed as a fringe, marginal movement, opposition to nuclear power was now wide spread, attracting large majorities (80% and above in polls) in many countries.

Looking back over the whole period, it has to be said that few proposed plants have been halted by direct action/protest campaigns, although they have arguably contributed to a change in political climate, for example in Germany & Spain, but then so did the accidents, e.g. in Asia, following the Fukushima plants spectacular demise. There has been a lot of scholarly research on what mobilises people to act on nuclear issues, much of it done after Fukushima, which clearly had a big impact.

However, so has economics. The progressively poor economics of nuclear has probably been the main reason why nuclear has been in decline in many places. Though there can be two-way interactions between political opposition, with for example linked public demands for improved safety, and the economics of nuclear power. Looking ahead, it may be that the increasingly poor economics and the slow delivery potential of nuclear power compared to renewables, which are clearly progressing, will now move even more people to an anti-nuclear/pro renewables position, including those who see climate change as needing an urgent response. And that may constrain nuclear further. 

The Bottom line 

Nuclear is not doing well. In the US, given the increasingly competitive alternatives, old nuclear plant closures continue, although some plants may be kept open for a while with subsidies (see my last post), and one new one is being built. Some small new plants may also be tested. But otherwise, nuclear is, in effect, phasing itself out there. In Asia, although Japan has restarted a few reactors, no new ones are planned. China is expanding renewables very dramatically, and although it, and India, are also continuing with nuclear expansion programmes, they are relatively small compared with their renewable programmes. Meanwhile, South Korea has continued with its nuclear phase out by 2030 policy. 

In Europe, the UK, France and Finland, as well as some Eastern European countries, still  back nuclear, but in addition to the well-known case of Germany, with its last plant scheduled to close by the end of the year, nuclear phase out commitments have also been made in Belgium, Spain, and Switzerland. As noted earlier, after Fukushima, Italy also voted overwhelmingly in a referendum not to go nuclear, a position already adopted by Denmark, Austria, Ireland, Greece and Portugal.  

All of which makes the recent statement from the pro-nuclear group Human Progress inaccurate as well as appalling: ‘Whereas a few months ago European Union bureaucrats drawing up the “taxonomy” that defines which energy sources would be considered carbon-free (i.e. valid substitutes for fossil fuels) excluded nuclear power, now nearly all except the fanatical Germanic states have reversed themselves. Indeed, the map of pro- and anti-nuclear Euro¬pean countries now closely resembles a map of World War II circa March 1945, shortly before the taking of the Ludendorff Bridge broke the last line of organised resistance in the Reich’. 

Well, it is usually the left that is chastised for playing the ideology card! See my next post…

February 21, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, public opinion | Leave a comment

Leaders say nuclear will save Kemmerer. Residents aren’t convinced.

when TerraPower announced in November that it would build a first-of-its-kind sodium-cooled nuclear reactor at the town’s Naughton Power Plant, community leaders exhaled at last. The project promised a lifeline, not just to the town, but to similarly coal-dependent Wyoming.

The people who claimed they didn’t have much to say about the project, the ones who actually had a lot to say — a lot of them didn’t feel like trailblazers. They felt more like guinea pigs.

Many were suspicious. Why, they asked, would TerraPower stick its flagship project in such a tiny, remote town? Was it because they were too desperate to protest? Too isolated for anyone to care if things went awry?…….

Leaders say nuclear will save Kemmerer. Residents aren’t convinced. Casper Star Tribune 
Nicole Pollack,  Jan 29, 2022 
The Star-Tribune visited Kemmerer this month to talk with the community about TerraPower’s nuclear plant. Energy reporter Nicole Pollack and photographer Lauren Miller will continue reporting from Kemmerer as the project develops.Roaming Kemmerer, asking people about the planned nuclear reactor, I expected excitement. Or trepidation. Or anger.

Apathy wasn’t on the list.

“We don’t really talk about it,” a retired miner told me as his fellow retirees — former coal miners and quarry workers and power plant operators — heckled one another around a senior center pool table.

Most of the Kemmerer residents I met said the same thing. They were familiar with the plan to replace their half-century-old coal plant with a nuclear reactor; did I know Bill Gates was behind it? Everyone, they assured me, was aware. They just didn’t have much more to say.

The energy sector is always changing, the miner said, and people in Kemmerer are used to riding out those booms and busts. Another boom isn’t anything special. So the project doesn’t come up in conversation very often.

He discusses it with his wife sometimes, though. The two of them speculate, nervously, about how a nuclear plant might change the tiny town they’ve called home for decades.

Coal’s demise hangs heavy over Kemmerer, and when TerraPower announced in November that it would build a first-of-its-kind sodium-cooled nuclear reactor at the town’s Naughton Power Plant, community leaders exhaled at last. The project promised a lifeline, not just to the town, but to similarly coal-dependent Wyoming. Gov. Mark Gordon proudly unveiled the project last summer during a celebratory press conference featuring a video message from Gates himself. 

We’re absolutely ecstatic,” Mayor Bill Thek told me after Kemmerer was chosen.

The miner and his wife aren’t so sure. While they agree Kemmerer needs an economic boost of some kind, a replacement for its fading coal sector, they’re not sure whether a next-generation reactor will be the right answer. They’d rather keep burning coal.

I asked a lot of people in Kemmerer about the nuclear plant. At first, most sounded unconcerned, almost indifferent: “I don’t have much to say about it.”

But, it turned out, they usually did………………..

Maybe, another offered, the company was already starting to build the plant itself.

He hoped construction hadn’t started. There were still too many unknowns, he told me. The town wasn’t ready for nuclear; not by a long shot. He didn’t know if it would ever be.

Life after coal

Gillette, Rock Springs, Glenrock and Kemmerer — the four communities considered for TerraPower’s first nuclear reactor — are all coal towns. But in Kemmerer, the victor, founded in 1867 near the coal mine that gave the town its name, coal has always been king.

Much of the younger workforce has opted to work at the gas plant, or even at the fossil quarries, over the coal plant, in the hopes that those jobs will last even after coal is gone. And Kemmerer and Diamondville are trying to put themselves on the map — on tourists’ lucrative radar — for their fossils………………………………………

TerraPower and Rocky Mountain Power had convened roughly 40 high-profile community leaders, including elected officials, town managers, school and hospital administrators and police officers, in the Best Western conference room for a question-and-answer luncheon.

…………………   they [the community]  also know about the plant’s “aggressive” seven-year time limit — a condition of the company’s nearly $2 billion Department of Energy grant. And, as the meeting wrapped up, they wanted to know: How sure was TerraPower that the project would succeed?…..

Why us?

In the Best Western conference room, the descriptor of choice was “demonstration.” Outside of that room, at the senior center and the bowling alley and the booths at Place on Pine, the nuclear plant was “experimental.”

The people who claimed they didn’t have much to say about the project, the ones who actually had a lot to say — a lot of them didn’t feel like trailblazers. They felt more like guinea pigs.

Many were suspicious. Why, they asked, would TerraPower stick its flagship project in such a tiny, remote town? Was it because they were too desperate to protest? Too isolated for anyone to care if things went awry?…….

There will be protests,” I was told several times. No one who said it wanted to participate themselves — I didn’t meet anyone who did — but they were suresomeone would…………………………………. 

January 31, 2022 Posted by | public opinion, USA | Leave a comment