This past Friday evening, the Clean and Safe Energy (CASEnergy) Coalition co-hosted a town hall gathering, “Nuclear Matters: Redefining Our Energy Future,” with the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce at Allen University.
“We’re living in a time of manufactured controversy,” declared Congressman Clyburn in his opening comments. After speaking briefly about the sequester, Congressman Clyburn used his journey and leadership as a civil rights advocate to emphasize the importance of staying informed and staying engaged.
Clyburn connected this key point by directing the audience to “learn all you can about nuclear,” emphasizing that nuclear energy is critical to environmental stewardship, job creation, and America’s national security. He described the nuclear energy sector as, “something to embrace,” and a critical contributor to clean electricity and innovative cancer-fighting nuclear medicine.
In closing Clyburn challenged community members to “make sure you aren’t left out” of the opportunity to weigh-in on energy policy and take advantage of career opportunities.
Following Clyburn’s remarks, a panel of industry and political leaders discussed the importance of nuclear energy to South Carolina and the region.
Georgia Representative Calvin Smyre echoed Clyburn’s call to action, and talked about how a visit to tour the nuclear energy sector in France enhanced his understanding of nuclear energy. He also acknowledged the CASEnergy Coalition for its support in lending their expertise to an energy meeting he hosted for his neighbors.
SCE&G Chief Nuclear Office Jeff Archie emphasized the priority placed on safety and the opportunity that the nuclear energy sector represents for students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career paths. He acknowledged that the African American and other minority communities are underrepresented in the industry, but underscored that his company actively supports STEM outreach activities in Fairfield County.
Fairfield County Superintendent, J.R. Green provided additional information on the collaboration with SCE&G and acknowledged the company as a critical partner.
Shaw AREVA MOX Services Operations Manager, Rick Burns spoke proudly of the role that South Carolina is playing in leading the nation’s new nuclear energy projects. He shared statistics regarding the economic impact of the MOX Project supply chain, and urged students to take advantage of the opportunities to pursue a career in the nuclear industry in South Carolina. In addition, members of the MOX Services team serve on academic advisory boards in a variety of STEM area curricula at technical colleges, teach courses in these STEM academic areas, and work with the career counselors to ensure students have the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful in the nuclear workforce upon graduation.
As Clyburn indicated, the nuclear energy industry provides many long-term opportunities for local South Carolina communities and residents to advance and prosper.