Poll: Japanese crisis cuts US nuke energy support

But nuclear advocates might take heart in the rise in public support for expanded offshore drilling, which had dipped in the months after last year’s massive BP oil spill began.

Pew’s poll this month shows that 57 percent of the 1,004 adults polled favor allowing more offshore oil-and-gas drilling in U.S. waters, while 37 percent oppose it. That’s a turnaround from Pew polling last June, when 44 percent favored expanded drilling while 52 percent opposed it.

The recent oil and gasoline price spikes are likely playing a role — support for wider drilling was 51 percent in October, before the turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa began sending prices upward.

Pew polls in February of 2010, April of 2009 and September of 2008 showed support for allowing more offshore drilling in the 63-67 percent range.

Elsewhere, the new poll finds that 74 percent of adults favor increased federal spending on renewable energy research, while 21 percent oppose it. The numbers are consistent with other Pew polls over the last year.

The White House is pushing for expanded Energy Department R&D funding, while Capitol Hill Republicans want to decrease spending for those programs.