When it opened in 1969, the Oyster Creek Generation Station in South Jersey was the first nuclear power plant in the nation.

On Tuesday, federal safety officials gave the Exelon-owned facility the green light to continue operating until 2029, pending final approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Opponents who sought to block the license renewal for the plant, including nearby residents, have every right to voice concern about a facility of Oyster Creek's age.

But now that the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board has found it up to standard, even those who wish it were otherwise must admit that the facility is needed to keep people's lights on while lessening our dependence on fossil fuels that create greenhouse gas emissions.

Until such time as wind, solar or a yet-to-be-discovered technology can supply more of America's power needs, nuclear plants are essential. Of course, government must be vigorous in ensuring that safety is not compromised at Oyster Creek or any nuclear plant.