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Friday, May 30, 2008

Environmental Justice & Nuclear Power

The State of Environmental Justice in America 2008 Conference at the Howard University School of Law on Friday, May 23, 2008 was a complete success. So was our forum: Environmental Justice & Nuclear Power: "Business Opportunities in the Nuclear Energy Industry." The Environmental Justice and Nuclear Power forum examined how African American businessmen and women can participate in the anticipated nuclear power plant construction renaissance. Blacks do not generally own companies that provide energy products and services, particularly in the nuclear power industry. Blacks do not own any of the energy infrastructure in the U.S. There are many reasons for this lack of participation, but one glaring reason is the very large amount of money needed to participate in an ownership capacity in the energy sector.

This forum examined how companies can benefit by serving as mentors to minority entrepreneurs and investors. It also showed how minority entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders can be helpful in assuring the success of these huge investments. Such partnerships could bring fresh perspectives and unique opportunities to both partners. America is poised to launch a renewal of nuclear power plant construction, which will involve billions of dollars for each plant. There are huge opportunities to participate in this renaissance if minority entrepreneurs and investors are aware of the products and services needed.

Of course, it would also help to have contacts in companies that will be building new plants. There are also many ancillary opportunities because of the nature of the business. These include transportation of nuclear waste by truck, rail and barge, security, construction of casks for transport of spent fuel to Yucca Mountain, electricians, physicists, metal and concrete workers, plumbers, computers, electronics, and more.The forum examined potential constraints to participation and how these problems can be overcome. Although nuclear power is not normally included as providing green jobs, the workshop clearly described how this industry will be creating such employment and how it can be leveraged to create opportunities in other areas, such as emissions trading. Finally, the forum described how these opportunities in the nuclear area can also complement new developments in conservation, efficiency, coal, carbon dioxide and transportation fuels.

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