A new statewide poll shows that despite the earthquake and tsunami nuclear plant incidents in Japan, Missourians are still solidly in favor of nuclear power and support construction of another reactor at the Callaway Nuclear Power Plant.
The survey found that 60 percent of the respondents favor expanding the Callaway Nuclear Power Plant.
The poll also showed 53 percent of Missourians support the use of nuclear power compared to 29 percent who oppose it and 18 percent who are unsure.
"This polling data backs up all the efforts we've made to pass a nuclear site permit bill in the General Assembly," said Irl L. Sissors, executive director of Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future.
"Overwhelmingly," Sissors said, "respondents support the use of nuclear power. Even more believe we should keep open the option of constructing a second nuclear power plant. Construction of such a state-of-the-art nuclear power plant could be Missouri's best bet for keeping electric rates low in the long term. It would bring thousands of jobs to our state, billions of dollars in economic investment and provide us with clean, reliable energy."
The poll was conducted from March 24-26 to gauge the opinions of Missourians about nuclear power.
The poll also showed strong support for keeping open the option of more nuclear power for the state by a 66 percent margin.
Poll participants were asked whether they wanted to keep the option of building a new nuclear power plant open or to close off any possibility of building a new nuclear plant in the foreseeable future. The poll revealed 66 percent in favor of keeping the option open, 27 percent opposed, and 7 percent undecided.
Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future supports legislation offered by Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, and Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane.
An opponent of the proposed legislation, Chris Roepe of Missourians for a Balanced Energy Future, criticized a question used in the poll. Roepe said the poll should have asked: "Do you support paying for Ameren's Early Site Permit?"
"Proponents of forcing consumers to pay for Ameren's Early Site Permit are trying to make this an issue about Missouri needing nuclear energy," Roepe said, "but the real issue is about who is going to pay for it. If consumers are going to be forced to pay for an Early Site Permit, it only makes sense that the consumers investment is protected."
The Fair Energy Rate Action Fund includes support from Noranda Aluminum, which operates an huge aluminum smelter in Southeast Missouri.
Noranda is Ameren Missouri's largest commercial customer. A Noranda representative has testified against building a nuclear plant, saying short-term costs for electricity would increase because of costs associated with building the plant.
Other support for the Fair Energy Rate Action Fund, which opposes the Kehoe and Riddle bills, comes from AARP, Anheuser-Busch, Consumers Council of Missouri, Ford Motor Co., Missouri Association for Social Welfare, and the Missouri Retailers Association.