Nuclear & Coal Energy Are The Least Popular in the U.S.: A Shift Towards Cleaner Alternatives

Nuclear & Coal Energy Are The Least Popular in U.S.

Nearly half of U.S. adults oppose increasing the country’s number of nuclear energy facilities

  • The U.S. should keep existing nuclear plants online but not build any new facilities, 1 in 3 adults thinks.
  • 16% believe the U.S. should continue the operation of existing nuclear plants and construct new reactors.
  • 29% view nuclear power favorably and 49% view it unfavorably, rendering it the most controversial source of electricity other than coal.

In general, this hierarchy of preferred power sources tracks the results of another survey, asking respondents which source they would select if they had control over where their utility provider had the power to operate their house or apartment. At 44%, solar was by far the most common, followed by natural gas (18%), wind (10%), nuclear (4%), hydrology (3%), and coal (1%). Nineteen percent said no preference was given to them.

But waste storage appears to be a sticking point, especially when close to home, for the 699 respondents who said they would support raising the number of nuclear facilities.  One notable energy source that was left off this survey is geothermal. 

Asked if they will endorse the disposal of spent nuclear fuel in the vicinity of their own cities, 50 miles is the minimum distance that receives more endorse (47%) than opposition (43%), although the error margin for this community is 4 points. Sixty-three percent would favor the storage within 100 miles of the spent fuel, while 25 percent would feel the same about it being stored within 5 miles.

In recent years, the energy landscape in the United States has undergone significant changes, with a growing emphasis on renewable and sustainable energy sources. As part of this transformation, nuclear and coal energy, once dominant players in the energy mix, are now facing declining popularity. In this article, we delve into the reasons behind the waning support for nuclear and coal energy and the rising preference for cleaner alternatives.

The Rise of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, have gained immense traction due to their environmentally friendly nature. These sources generate electricity without emitting greenhouse gases, making them instrumental in combating climate change. As a result, there has been a nationwide shift towards renewable energy, with many states setting ambitious targets for increasing their share of clean energy in the overall energy mix.

Safety Concerns Surrounding Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy has long been a topic of debate due to safety concerns associated with nuclear power plants. The catastrophic accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima have left a lasting impact on public perception. While modern nuclear power plants are designed with robust safety measures, the fear of potential accidents and their environmental consequences continues to influence public opinion.

Environmental Impact of Coal Energy

Coal, once the primary source of electricity in the U.S., has faced criticism for its severe environmental impact. Coal-fired power plants release significant amounts of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, which contribute to air pollution and climate change. Furthermore, coal mining can result in habitat destruction and water pollution, further souring public sentiment towards this energy source.

Transition to Cleaner Alternatives

The decreasing popularity of nuclear and coal energy has opened the door for cleaner alternatives. Natural gas, for instance, has been touted as a bridge fuel due to its lower carbon emissions compared to coal. However, it is essential to recognize that reliance on natural gas may still hinder the long-term transition to a fully sustainable energy future.

Government Support for Clean Energy

The U.S. government has been actively supporting the transition to cleaner energy sources. Federal and state incentives, tax credits, and renewable portfolio standards have encouraged the growth of renewables and energy efficiency initiatives. Additionally, commitments to international agreements, like the Paris Agreement, have compelled the U.S. to intensify efforts to reduce carbon emissions and promote greener energy solutions.

Public Demand for Sustainable Energy Solutions

Public awareness and concern about climate change have played a pivotal role in shaping the nation's energy preferences. As more individuals prioritize sustainable practices and environmental stewardship, there has been increasing demand for cleaner energy options. This demand has put pressure on energy companies to transition towards greener alternatives and invest in research and development of sustainable technologies.


The popularity of nuclear and coal energy has seen a decline in recent years as the U.S. transitions towards cleaner and more sustainable alternatives. The rise of renewable energy, coupled with safety concerns surrounding nuclear power and the environmental impact of coal, has fueled the shift. As the country moves forward, government support and public demand for sustainable energy solutions will continue to shape the future of the energy landscape, creating a cleaner and more environmentally responsible energy system for generations to come.

nuclear waste storage within 20 miles of their own community