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By Lenka Kollar

On 24 October 2016, members of IYNC along with other independent pro-nuclear environmentalists marched rallied in Chicago start a new pro-nuclear movement and to support the Next Generation Energy Plan (NGEP), which would allow for continued operation of the Clinton and Quad Cities Nuclear Plants in Illinois (United States).

“Abandoning these plants would lead to 2 million cars worth of pollution and over 4,000 people losing their jobs,“ said Natalie Wood, President, North American Young Generation in Nuclear.

Multiple nuclear power plants in the United States are closing prematurely due to economic pressure from an energy market that does not value carbon-free electricity. If the Next Generation Energy Plan passes with the nuclear component intact, the plants will get the small subsidy necessary to remain competitive in a market flooded with cheap natural gas and subsidies for renewables.

“There are only a few regions in the world that have actually been able to stop burning fossil fuel for power — places like France, Sweden, and Ontario — and they did so with nuclear power,” said University of Illinois nuclear engineering student and American Nuclear Society student president Aries Loumis, “Illinois could be one of those places.”

The U.S. Clean Power Plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions state by state and include nuclear energy as a clean source of power. Recently, the state of New York enacted a Zero Emission Credit to help keep nuclear power plants in the state online.

The march was organized by the Clean Power Coalition, a new pro-nuclear environmental coalition consisting of Environmental Progress, American Nuclear Society – Young Members Group, Mothers for Nuclear, Thorium Energy Alliance, and IYNC.

The Coalition is building a movement of citizens, scientists and conservationists advocating ethical and practical energy solutions for people and nature. The day before the march, members of these organizations discussed the need for a new vision for nuclear energy – to be able provide clean energy to the world and help mitigate climate change. Environmental Progress founder Michael Shellenberger said that “we have a transcendent moral purpose” to do this.

IYNC sponsored two nuclear engineering students, Alec Herbert of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Sarah Stevenson of Kansas State University, to attend the event.

“Energy is the single most important challenge facing humanity in the 21st Century,” said Sarah Stevenson when describing her motivation to attend the event. “Nuclear energy can provide a carbon-free and efficient energy solution but its contribution is undermined general lack of awareness. Wind and solar often come to mind when thinking of green energy solutions, but nuclear energy already accounts for 60% of the U.S. clean electricity capacity.”

Alec Herbert is trying to change this by starting a non-profit to re-educate people about nuclear energy. 5-Minute Nuclear is looking for volunteers to write for an international audience.