September 26, 2023

Executive Director Jessica Lovering Talks Nuclear Energy and Environmental Justice at the CBCF's 52nd Annual Legislative Conference

From left to right: Preston Gillespie, Ellen Ginsburg, Jessica Lovering, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner David Wright, and Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn.

On Sept. 22, Jessica Lovering, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Good Energy Collective, participated in the "Environmental Justice Braintrust" panel discussion at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. Jessica joined fellow panelists Commissioner David Wright of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Ellen Ginsburg of the Nuclear Energy Institute, and Preston Gillespie of Duke Energy. Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn moderated and hosted the discussion.

“I was honored to host Jessica Lovering of Good Energy Collective alongside other esteemed nuclear energy experts and officials during last week’s Environmental Justice Braintrust Session. President Biden and Congressional Democrats have made huge investments in supporting the existing nuclear fleet and developing nuclear technology for the future. I look forward to working with the Good Energy Collective to tackle our next challenge: ensuring our nuclear investments are dispersed equitably and inclusively,” said Assistant Democratic Leader Clyburn.

In a dynamic Q&A session, Jessica illuminated three fundamental shifts that could recalibrate the future of nuclear energy, centered on environmental justice:

  • A relational approach to advocacy: There is a critical need to build trust between environmental justice communities and the nuclear industry beyond purely informational campaigns.
  • The role of recent legislation and administration efforts: The Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Justice40 Initiative have enhanced incentives for communities to consider nuclear energy as a viable and sustainable solution.
  • Increased diversity in energy sectors: The nuclear energy sector, like other energy sectors, is woefully lacking in racial and gender diversity, which handicaps efforts to conduct outreach and spread the benefits of nuclear equitably.

"A phrase that we often hear in the environmental discourse is 'moving at the speed of trust.' And that is where the nuclear industry is now; they must do the hard work to build community relationships, develop successful projects, and earn trust," said Jessica. "That's going to take time, but we're already seeing some good examples from the advanced nuclear demonstrations that are getting going now. I don't think the nuclear industry necessarily needs to win over the broader public. But for communities hosting new nuclear projects, vendors need to start early to co-develop projects with lasting, tangible benefits and through a process that builds genuine support and trust."