September 8, 2021, 7:01AMPress Releases

The Biden administration’s climate goals will be met only by expanding carbon-free nuclear energy production, urge the American Nuclear Society (ANS) non-profit and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) labor union in a joint Op-Ed.

“America’s electric utility workers and nuclear engineers are ready to work together to help rapidly decarbonize and electrify the economy,” write ANS President Steven Nesbit and IBEW International President Lonnie R. Stephenson, respectively representing over 10,000 nuclear engineers and scientists and over 775,000 electrical workers in various industries, including construction, utility, and manufacturing.

“We welcome provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that aim to prevent premature closures of our nuclear power plants,” write Nesbit and Stephenson of the infrastructure bill being debated in the United States Congress. “Through measures like production tax credits, President Biden can safeguard America’s largest carbon-free energy source by recognizing the clean air contributions of nuclear energy.”

“However, climate change requires we do more than preserve existing reactors and correct market flaws, we must expand nuclear energy as well,” write Nesbit and Stephenson. “By building new reactors at old fossil fuel-fired power plants, President Biden can ensure reliable clean energy and high-paying jobs for working families across the country.”

“The inclusion of nuclear alongside renewables and carbon capture will be necessary if we’re to decarbonize our economy rapidly and cost-effectively,” urge Nesbit and Stephenson. ANS and IBEW point out that other clean energy sources, chiefly renewables, will require a massive amount of land, most of it privately held, as well as a build-out of new transmission lines to bring that power to market.

A faster alternative to a “net-zero” carbon footprint would be to build reliable, carbon-free advanced nuclear reactors on the sites of decommissioned fossil-fuel power plants, ANS and IBEW propose. This would make use of the existing power grid and could come online quicker than most wind and solar. Instead of building entirely new facilities, prefabricated stackable small modular reactors would produce carbon-free baseload power around the clock.

Nesbit and Stephenson write there are other reasons to expand nuclear energy in addition to it being the most reliable clean-energy source. They note American nuclear workers have the highest wages within the U.S. energy sector, earning an average of $47 per hour, according to the Energy Futures Initiative. America’s nuclear energy industry is also the most heavily unionized part of the U.S. energy sector and its most diverse, with women comprising 36% of the work force and people identifying as a racial and ethnic minority comprising about 34%.

Click here to read more of the joint Opinion-Editorial by ANS and IBEW, titled “Nuclear energy ensures clean energy jobs for working Americans.”

Established in 1954, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) is an international professional organization of engineers and scientists devoted to the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology. Its more than 10,000 members represent government, academia, research laboratories, medical facilities, and private industry. ANS’s mission is to advance, foster, and spur the development and application of nuclear science, engineering, and technology to benefit society.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) represents approximately 775,000 members and retirees who work in a wide variety of fields, including construction, utilities, manufacturing, telecommunications, broadcasting, railroads, and government.

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