In fact, nuclear power is the most capital-intensive, most expensive way possible to create new jobs in the United States.
Let’s take a look at a specific example: according to sworn testimony before the Maryland Public Service Commission, top officials of UniStar Nuclear, which seeks to build a new, 1600 Megawatt nuclear reactor on the Chesapeake Bay--by far the largest in the United States, testified that this proposed project would create a maximum of 4,000 short-lived construction jobs—most lasting one year or less--and 360 permanent jobs.
Multiply that by 45 new reactors and you get 180,000 temporary jobs and 16,200 permanent jobs. Temporary jobs would be less than 20% of what McCain claims, permanent jobs would be far fewer than 5% of McCain’s claims.
Rough cost of 45 new nuclear reactors: according to Moody’s Investor Service and other independent sources, about $10 Billion per reactor, or about $450 Billion.
Cost per job: if temporary and permanent jobs are thrown together, almost $400,000 per job; if only permanent jobs are considered, an astronomical $4 million+ per job.
Perhaps Senator McCain is thinking of jobs producing nuclear reactors rather than simply building them. But production of nuclear reactors is not done in the United States. Indeed, the nuclear infrastructure worldwide is extremely limited. Only Japan Steel Works can build new reactor pressure vessels—the largest, most expensive components of new reactors. France’s Areva can produce a limited amount of other major nuclear components. There is no infrastructure currently in the U.S. to build such major components.
Of course, it might be possible to create such an infrastructure, but that would also cost additional billions of dollars, probably tens of billions, not included in the $450 Billion estimate above.
Meanwhile, green jobs—those involved in producing energy efficiently, cleanly and safely—can be produced at far less cost. According to a February 2008 study by the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy, for example, 12,000 or more new well-paid green collar jobs could be created in the State of Maryland alone by 2020 simply by instituting cost-effective energy efficiency measures. Implementation of new renewable energy resources would create even more jobs, at reasonable cost.
Similar stories can be told in every state in the country. Renewable energy and energy efficiency creates far more jobs per dollar spent than nuclear power, reduces more carbon emissions than nuclear power per dollar spent than nuclear power, and doesn’t hold the possibility of nuclear meltdown, radioactive waste production, environmental destruction caused by uranium mining, and terrorist attack.
Senator McCain’s numbers are seriously exaggerated and seriously wrong, as is his continuing insistence on building 45 new reactors in the United States. The U.S. needs a clean, economic, sustainable nuclear-free, carbon-free energy policy. That is the energy policy of the 21st century and Nuclear Information and Resource Service calls on both Senator McCain and Senator Obama, as well as the entire US Congress, to embrace this approach.