Skip to main content

USEC Takes It to the Streets

Suffrage_parade-New_York_City-May_6_1912 We generally think protests and protesting are good things. They are ways of getting a message out and trying to bring attention to issues. We don’t even mind when a nuclear power plant is protested – after all, it’s a great opportunity to educate the protesters and even try a counter-protest. Seems so American, so small-d democratic.

Even when it threatens to go small-a anarchic, we would still tilt in favor of an unruly public gathering. This came to mind while we were reading and thinking about a story in Politico this morning that talked about the increased rowdiness at political town hall meetings.

It was Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) whose encounter with a disgruntled constituent brought the issue to the fore. But now, some pols are cancelling the meetings, others are ensuring there is a police presence if they do have one and getting escorted to their cars. It’s as if they’d never heard of a old fashioned free-for-all. But at least two politicians get it.

“Town halls are a favorite part of my job,” said Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), a third-term congressman from St. Louis who noted that a “handful” of disruptions had taken place at his meetings. “It’s what I do. It’s what I will continue to do.”

“People have gotten fired up and all that, but I think that’s what makes town halls fun,” said [Rep. Tom] Perriello [D-Va.], a freshman who is among the most vulnerable Democrats in 2010. “I think that most of the time when we get out there, it’s a good chance for people to vent and offer their thoughts. It’s been good.”

“I enjoy it, and people have a chance to speak their mind,” he said.

But – but - hey! Where’s the nuclear energy in all this? Wait for it:

[Scott] Barker was one of dozens of USEC employees from Ohio who rode a bus overnight to attend a part news conference, part rally thrown by Rep. Jean Schmidt [R-Ohio], asking the White House to reverse a decision by the Department of Energy to reject USEC's application for a $2 billion loan guarantee the company says it needs to complete financing of the $3.5 billion [American Centrifuge] project.

News conference? Rally? What else?

The about 150 USEC workers at the event held signs reminding Obama that when he was a presidential candidate campaigning in Ohio last fall he promised support for the loan guarantee in a letter to Gov. Ted Strickland, a fellow Democrat.

"Obama, keep your promise to Ohio," read one. "Not a bailout ... just a loan," read another. "Ohio needs jobs. Save USEC," pleaded a third.

Holding signs with pointed political content? That’s a protest. (Let’s quickly note that the sign is wrong – a loan is different from a loan guarantee, but USEC says it needs the latter – from the administration - to get the former – from a bank. That’s admittedly a lot to fit on a sign.)

You can read about The American Centrifuge and what’s going on between USEC and DOE a few posts down. We have no dog in this race – even with Schmidt’s involvement, we hope partisan passions stay tamped down in favor of bipartisan job worries - but we can say: if USEC workers wants to paint up a few signs and listen to a few earnest speeches and stir up a little fuss to make their case, viva USEC workers!

Not USEC workers, but suffragettes, who favored unlicensed parades to make their stand. Note: they won.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Innovation Fuels the Nuclear Legacy: Southern Nuclear Employees Share Their Stories

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon are excited about nuclear energy. Each works at Southern Nuclear Co. and sees firsthand how their ingenuity powers the nation’s largest supply of clean energy. For Powered by Our People, they shared their stories of advocacy, innovation in the workplace and efforts to promote efficiency. Their passion for nuclear energy casts a bright future for the industry.

Blake Bolt has worked in the nuclear industry for six years and is currently the work week manager at Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. He takes pride in an industry he might one day pass on to his children.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?
As a Work Week Manager at Plant Hatch, my primary responsibility is to ensure nuclear safety and manage the risk associated with work by planning, scheduling, preparing and executing work to maximize the availability and reliability of station equipment and systems. I love my job because it enables me to work directly with every department on the plant…