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Texas Weighs Waste

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Nuclear waste is not popular in any neighborhood. In West Texas, there’s a battle underway over a plan to create a above ground storage facility for high level waste. Its a bigger problem than West Texas - the nation’s nuclear power plants are quickly running out of room to store the waste. This region has had a long and often contentious relationship with nuclear waste, stretching back to a years-long battle over a planned permanent waste site in the 1980’s and 90’s. Opponents eventually won that fight, but a different site was later built in the Permian Basin. Continue Reading →

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Why Smart Meters Don’t Make a Smart Grid

Power transmission lines march across the Shirley Basin in central Wyoming.

In 2009, President Obama promised to modernize the electric grid, using stimulus money. The new power grid would be smart and efficient, bringing the tech revolution to electricity. It would incorporate more renewable energy. It would have the ability to fix blackouts more quickly. And, it would save customers a whole lot of money. So whatever happened to that plan? (Blackout: Reinventing the Grid #3) Continue Reading →

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When The Largest Machine In The World Fails

The huge, steel transmission towers carrying power to the North Country  collapsed under the weight of the ice during the Ice Storm of 1998.

If you could peer behind an electrical plug in your house, you’d find a massive network of transmission lines and power plants and a whole army of people bringing power to the socket in real-time, 24 hours a day. It’s the largest machine in the world: the power grid. Most of the time it operates invisibly, in the background, but when it fails, it often does so memorably. To most people, those outages seem like isolated events, but when you look at the trend, they're not. (Blackout: Reinventing the Grid #1) Continue Reading →

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Communities Fight Gas Industry to Keep Pipelines Off Their Land

In January, protesters of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline were arrested in Conestoga, Pennsylvania. Communities are turning to new tactics to keep oil and gas pipelines off their lands. Courtesy Michelle Johnsen/StateImpact Pennsylvania

Despite a drop in oil prices, oil and gas companies are still producing more oil than existing pipelines can carry. As the industry tries to build new pipelines, small communities are turning to new -- and risky -- tactics to keep their land. Continue Reading →

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