We always knew nuclear was green!

By Jennifer Varnedoe and Liz McAndrew-Benavides

This year’s North American – Young Generation in Nuclear (NA-YGN) continental conference was held in May and was themed “Leading the Change: Go Green.” Participants learned that the future of electricity production in the United States would be heavily influenced by the desire to combat global warming. This desire is starting a national debate on how the country should select technologies for new electricity production facilities.

The common consensus is that only technologies deemed to be green have a chance at new construction, so Young Generation conference attendees were disheartened that nuclear was not recognized as a green energy. Until the environmental benefits of nuclear energy were recognized, new nuclear power would have a difficult time moving forward.

As of the end of September, there isn’t any reason for the young generation of nuclear professionals to be disheartened. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently published a definition of “Green Jobs” that is inclusive of nuclear careers.

BLS has defined green jobs as:

  1. Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.
  2. Jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

Easily missed because the BLS definition is generic, the great discovery is made when reviewing the list of job codes associated with the definition. Four nuclear jobs are included in the BLS definition:

  • turbine manufacturing
  • nuclear electric power generation
  • nuclear waste disposal
  • industrial valve manufacturing

Being included in this definition will allow nuclear power to have an equal seat at the table at any future federal discussion on energy generation. State public service commissions will be able to point to the federal definition of green jobs to count electricity produced by nuclear power toward their clean energy standards. Most importantly, the young generation of nuclear professionals can rest assured that the federal government understands the importance of nuclear power in the global warming debate.

As members of the young generation, we applaud the Department of Labor’s work to clarify once and for all, what is a green job.

Jennifer Varnedoe is Vice-Chair of the ANS Young Members Group.  She is a Project Engineer with Advanced Programs at GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.  She has been an ANS member since 2007 and is a guest contributor to the ANS Nuclear Cafe.

Liz McAndrew-Benavides is President of NA-YGN.  She is Managerof Industry Infrastructure at the Nuclear Energy Institute. In this role she is focused on work force development and supply chain issues for the nuclear industry. Prior to this job, she worked for Constellation Energy in their new nuclear division, UniStar Nuclear.

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