June 2009

Coalition Touts Nuclear Power’s Benefits

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With eyes on the present and future green jobs picture, more than 800 organizations and 1,000 individuals have banded together to champion nuclear power’s low carbon emissions, safety and career opportunities.

The CASEnergy Coalition—short for clean and safe energy—boasts a broad roster of members from labor unions, environmental groups, the business community and beyond. More than 130 IBEW locals from California to New York have signed on to the group.

“Good jobs for IBEW members in any low-carbon setting should be celebrated,” said Todd Newkirk, IBEW Utility Department International Representative. Newkirk touted the environmentally friendly aspects of nuclear power—an industry rich in IBEW membership—which provides nearly 75 percent of all carbon-free electrical generation in the U.S. and offsets nearly as much carbon dioxide as is released from all U.S. passenger cars combined.

CASEnergy is a strong advocate for creating well-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. The average annual salary for a nuclear engineer is nearly $83,000. There are currently more than 30 new reactors under consideration to be built across the U.S. If constructed, more than 20,000 temporary and permanent jobs could be added to the market—many of them with union representation.

“Union members are the best people to help lead this new age of nuclear energy,” said Cranbury, N.J., Local 94 Business Manager Chip Gerrity. Local 94 is part of the coalition, representing nearly 1,000 members at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station and the Salem/Hope Creek Nuclear Power Plant. “When it comes down to it, it’s all about the training and the quality of people. The IBEW has both. Our members know the value of a good day’s work and have high standards.”

President Barack Obama’s and Vice President Joe Biden’s New Energy for America plan includes nuclear power as a key piece of greening the power sector. “It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option,” a statement from the administration said. While safety is a high concern—especially with this year’s 30th anniversary of the Three Mile Island meltdown in the background—the coalition highlights the stringent regulations the industry has adopted.

“Some people still have the misconception that nuclear is a risky business, when it’s actually the most heavily regulated industry anywhere at any given time,” Newkirk said. “That is why it is important to belong to CASEnergy. It is time for the nuclear sector to be seen for what it is, day in and day out—green and clean.”

CASEnergy is headed by former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and a former Greenpeace leader. Studies presented by the coalition have drawn approval and support from diverse members of Congress, AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department President Mark Ayers and IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill.

“We know that nuclear energy is one of several ways to boost economic growth and support good jobs in the construction and operation of new plants,” President Hill said. “The industry will also help ensure that our nation has a diverse and secure supply of energy to meet the needs of the American people well into the future.”

For more information, visit www.CleanSafeEnergy.org.