As a scientist with one eye squarely on the environment and the other on people, I’m proud that, for the last six years, I’ve helped to lead the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition and its diverse array of members to help the public make decisions about nuclear energy and America’s energy future based on facts.

As I step down as co-chair of CASEnergy Coalition following a busy, fulfilling six years, I feel fortunate that, along with my co-chair and friend Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, we’ve made a lot of progress

Americans are faced with many challenges, from unemployment and the economy, to infrastructure investment, to clean and affordable sources of electricity. While there is no silver bullet, energy – more specifically nuclear energy – is a solution that addresses multiple concerns at once. It provides long-term, high-paying careers, creates economic windfall in the surrounding communities, all while providing affordable and reliable clean air electricity to consumers.

People continue to impress me. They educate themselves on a topic like nuclear energy that may have been unfamiliar to them. I have had the privilege of working with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), The Urban League and other organizations who too often have not been properly included in the energy discussion. These interactions have been tremendously satisfying.

I’ve been pleased to see media outlets taking the time to educate themselves on nuclear energy, generally providing a balanced view of the industry’s commitment to safety and continuous improvements that reduce even further the risk of incidents. As the media landscape evolves, it is encouraging to see even more energy/electricity-focused outlets popping up.

An educated public leads to a more informed discussion, something I feel is imperative given the public’s role in setting the course for future energy investments.

In the years ahead, one can anticipate that considerable media attention will be given to the ongoing construction of America’s four newest reactors – two at Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia and two more at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station northwest of Columbia, S.C.

These four new reactors are a great achievement. A single 1,000 megawatt nuclear energy facility provides 1,400 to 1,800 high-paying jobs during construction, and as many as 3,500 during peak periods of construction, all while producing safe, secure, clean electricity to the region.

While my time with CASEnergy Coalition has been very positive, it’s impossible to omit the unfortunate event at Fukushima, Japan, that took place during my tenure.

Following Fukushima, the U.S. nuclear industry appropriately followed up with a rigorous review to make absolutely sure that U.S. reactors are ready for even the unthinkable. As a result, American nuclear energy plants are even safer today based on the lessons learned from the events in Japan.

This places the U.S. nuclear sector in a very good position to continue its work supplying safe, clean, affordable nuclear energy to a public that greatly requires it. The United States will need to increase the use of nuclear energy to achieve a sustainable energy future. Meanwhile, while some European governments such as Germany are stuck adding fossil fuels and paying costly subsidies for renewable energy as a result of a move away from carbon-free nuclear.

Think of all the benefits that nuclear energy can bring to bear on a growing civilization.

High-temperature reactors will be used to make high-temperature, industrial grade steam, an absolutely crucial industrial commodity that is now created by burning fossil fuels.

Hydrogen production, so important to the chemical and other industries, now occurs most commonly through stripping hydrogen from natural gas molecules. High-temperature reactors will make the thermochemical cracking of water more economical.

High-temperature reactors will enable far more efficient desalination of seawater that will, in turn, provide clean, plentiful drinking water to populations in need.

And wider acceptance of electrical vehicles will mean cleaner air, as long as the power plant that charges the electrical vehicle is also clean. In that way, nuclear energy is a perfect fit, providing a clean source of electricity to power the next generation of electric vehicles, and the result will be improved air quality for everybody.

If these remarkable attributes of high-temperature reactors aren’t impressive enough, consider the trend toward small modular reactors (SMRs) that will change the game on clean, nuclear power production.

All of these developments point to a future in which nuclear energy is very much a part of the mix. But most amazing to me are the fast neutron reactors that will burn all of the existing and future used nuclear fuel – or ‘waste’ as it is wrongly called in my view. These fast reactors will, in theory, be able to take the entire 50 years of stored used nuclear fuel and convert it into five thousand years of nuclear energy.

While the time I have spent with the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition has been exciting, the positive future I see for nuclear energy keeps me eager to find out where we go next!

Dr. Patrick Moore, Ph.D., is a Founding Co-Chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition and co-founder of Greenpeace. From 2006-2013, Dr. Moore worked alongside CASEnergy Coalition Co-Chair Christine Todd Whitman, Former Governor of NJ and EPA Administrator, to engage Americans in a dialogue about energy issues and speaking with diverse audiences about the positive impact that nuclear energy has on citizens and their communities.