The Biden administration’s climate goals will be met only by expanding nuclear energy production, International President Lonnie R. Stephenson writes in an op-ed.

With co-author Steven Nesbit of the American Nuclear Society, Stephenson asserts that provisions in the infrastructure bill being debated in Congress that would prevent permanent closures of existing nuclear power plants are a welcome first step.

But he and Nesbit point out that other clean-energy sources, chiefly solar and wind, will require a massive use of land, most of it privately held, as well as a build-out of new transmission capacity 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. It 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.

Stephenson and Nesbit write there are other reasons to expand nuclear energy in addition to it being the most reliable clean-energy source. They note nuclear workers have the highest wages within the energy sector, earning an average of $47 per hour, according to the Energy Futures Initiative.

Not surprisingly, nuclear is also the most heavily unionized part of the 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 Stephenson’s and Nesbit’s editorial and urge your representatives in Congress to support legislation that expands the use of nuclear energy.