The Federal loan guarantee program for construction of nuclear power plants, set by Congress at $18.5 billion, could if expanded to cover the entire fleet of 21 proposed new reactors, create nearly 80,000 construction jobs, and more than 17,000 permanent operations jobs over the next 10-15 years.
I rather think John Whitehead’s macroeconomic argument about green jobs applies here. There are jobs to be had creating the infrastructure necessary to supply our nation’s energy needs. If they are not created in providing that energy through nuclear power, they will be created in providing it with coal, or wind, or whatever. To the extent that more jobs are created by doing it with nuclear energy than with other approaches, that merely means nuclear energy is less efficient.
My analysis suggests we could maximize energy-related job creation by hiring a bunch of extreme athletes to pedal those silly bike machines you see in late night infomercials. Hook ’em up to the grid. All the food they have to eat would also add farm sector employment. Win!
(OK, I’m being flip. Just as Whitehead argues with “green jobs,” there may very well be good reasons for pursuing an expansion of nuclear energy. But job creation should not be one of them.)