This Week in Energy
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Ongoing Discussion
You are invited to participate in our continuing discussion on climate changeenergy density, and energy technology waste, following from our recent webinar with Michael Shellenberger. Read more from the discussion prompt, listen to the webinar recording, and comment! Here are some things OEP experts are saying:
Energy Technology Waste
Question 3: Do you agree that waste from wind and solar is a larger issue than waste from nuclear? How can we sustainably manage waste from zero-carbon energy technologies?
From the discussion prompt:
Waste from nuclear power, Shellenberger said, is not an issue but is actually the environmental solution to all other waste problems. Solar panels and wind turbines eventually go to landfills, and they are not likely to ever be recycled because buying materials fresh will always be cheaper. Shellenberger points out that the waste products of nuclear power (the used fuel rods) are not landfilled but are stored on the site of production and not externalized into the natural environment. The waste volume for nuclear is in orders of magnitude smaller than for wind and solar; all of the nuclear waste that the United States has ever generated could go on a single football field stacked 66 feet high.
"Yes, I totally agree. The life-cycle waste for wind and solar is almost certainly more destructive and difficult to manage than the waste from nuclear. If we do a little work, we might find that we can use the nuclear waste we have right now as a next-generation fuel. Try that with your next dead solar panel or windmill blade!"
- Mike Shatzkin, Founder, & CEO, The Idea Logical Company, Inc.
"The history and record of nuclear waste and uranium mining contamination is dismal. Since at least August 2005, radioactive toxins such as tritium and strontium-90 have been leaking from at least two spent fuel pools at Indian Point into the groundwater and the Hudson River. In January 2007 it was reported that strontium-90 was detected in four out of twelve Hudson River fish tested...."
- Scott Sklar, President, The Stella Group, LTD
"Wastes from wind, solar and biofuels, and from nuclear fuels, and industries in general, will continue to be ongoing problems but need to be managed in different ways out of necessity. Again, I don’t see these as major unsolvable problems which cannot be handled by the very best project management methods that the US is capable of providing."
- Brian Gallagher, Managing Member, Ecotonics, LLC
Reply to the question and comments above or reply to one of our two other questions:

Question 1: Climate change threats - exaggerated or not?

Question 2: Energy density - should it be a larger part of the conversation on climate change and environmental issues?
Podcast Spotlight
In his latest book, The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations, noted energy historian Daniel Yergin captures a screenshot of the energy world as it stands in 2020, both in the shifting balance and rising tensions among nations, and in the dramatic reshaping of global energy supplies and flows. Yergin's classic book, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, became a bestseller, won a Pulitzer Prize, and put Dr. Yergin on the map as one of the world’s leading thinkers on energy and its vast geopolitical and economic implications.

In this edition of Columbia Energy Exchange, host Jason Bordoff is joined by Dr. Yergin to discuss his new book and what's ahead for energy geopolitics and the energy transition. 
Update from Congress

Legislation Updates
  • Thurs, Sept 24 - The U.S. House of Representatives passed the 900-page Clean Energy and Jobs Innovation Act in a 220-185 vote. The bill would create research and development programs for solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric power; lessen pollution from fossil fuels; and establish more rigorous building codes and energy efficiency requirements. See more details in coverage from The Hill and Utility Dive.

New Legislation

  • Wed, Sept 23 - Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) & Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-09) introduced a resolution (S.CON.RES.47, H.CON.RES.119) recognizing the climate crisis' disproportionate effects on the health, economic opportunity, and rights of children and recognizing the need to develop a comprehensive recovery plan.
Featured Energy Events
  • When: Wed, Sept 30, 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time

  • When: Tues-Thurs, Oct 20-22

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