"Is Nuclear the Answer to Gas and Employment Problems?"

We saw this excellent article from Justin Valez Hagan, who is the National Executive Director of The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, Sr. Contributing Writer for Politic365, and member of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition.

We liked his argument stating new nuclear energy generates increased U.S. energy security and spurs economic/job growth. He begins by pointing out how these two parallel issues are core needs for America:

Gas and energy prices are rising dramatically (expected to increase more once the heavy-travel, summer season hits) affecting the everyday costs of everyone from grandmothers making grocery runs to small business owners.

But there is one energy source, which is already known to not only be cheaper, greener, and entirely domestic, but will also add tremendous and immediate economic value to our economy while continuing to gain bipartisan support: Nuclear power….

He then describes the significant number of solid, good jobs involved in the construction and maintenance of new nuclear energy facilities, rightly calling the opportunity “immense.”

With each new nuclear power plant 1,400 to 1,800 construction jobs are created, with up to 3,500 jobs at peak construction, in a sector that now experiences one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Another 400-700 full-time employees will earn 36 percent more than the average salaries in the local area. For every 100 direct jobs at a nuclear facility, 66 indirect jobs will simultaneously be created to provide goods and services in the surrounding community. With multiple applications for new reactors under review and many more needed to fulfill our energy demands, the potential for job creation is immense.

And we appreciated his specific angle on how this job creation could affect minority workers in America:

Since minorities are currently impacted the most by unemployment, it’s important to note that we also stand to gain the most. Not only will contract opportunities be set aside for minority development programs, but given recent entrepreneurial trends, Hispanics will continue starting businesses at a much higher rate than the rest of the population in order to cater to the needs of these new facilities. Consider also that higher-education, “feeder” programs for energy industry jobs are already targeting minorities, and the potential for minority involvement improves even more. Perhaps the best part about nuclear jobs is that they can’t be out-sourced. No nuclear plant in India or China can send energy to the U.S. while displacing an American worker.

Hagan concludes with this additional benefit: that nuclear energy development has the potential to build not just new jobs and new opportunities for American workers, but that in an increasingly polarized political space, it may be one of the few initiatives that can rally support across the political landscape.

But don’t just rely on my word. Ask the thousands of Hispanic and African American non-profits, as well as scientists, engineers, and small business owners who have recently joined organizations such as the CASEnergy Coalition in support of nuclear energy. You can’t find more diverse support for any other existing energy solution. Perhaps we should stop taking risks with taxpayers’ money and start betting on a sure thing that we can all rally behind.

Read the entire article here for more insights from Hagan’s perspective.