March 22, 2010 / 2:29 PM / 9 years ago

Public support for nuclear power at new peak

A U.S. flag flutters in front of cooling towers at the Limerick Generating Station nuclear facility in Pottstown, Pennsylvania May 24, 2006. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The majority of Americans who favor nuclear-generated electricity hit a new high this year, according to a poll on Monday that suggests growing support for President Barack Obama’s aid to the nuclear industry.

Sixty-two percent of 1,014 U.S. adults, who were surveyed March 4-7 by Gallup, said they favored nuclear energy as one way to meet national electricity needs.

Though a majority of Americans has long supported nuclear power, Gallup said the latest rating is the highest since it began polling on the issue in 1994.

Hoping to advance climate legislation in Congress, Obama announced $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for new plant construction in February. The guarantees will help build the first new U.S. nuclear power facilities in nearly three decades.

The Democratic president used the loan guarantees to reach out to Republicans including Senator John McCain of Arizona, whose help he needs to push forward stalled climate legislation that would cap greenhouse gas emissions and expand the use of renewable energy.

A compromise bill being put together in the Senate would further expand federal assistance for nuclear plant construction.

Gallup’s latest findings show Republican support for nuclear power a new high of 74 percent this year, up from 71 percent a year ago.

Democratic support stands at a bare majority of 51 percent, down slightly from 52 percent in 2009, the poll showed.

The data have a 4 percentage point margin of error.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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