• Power gridTexas House Targets Power Grid Flaw that Cut Electricity to Natural Gas Facilities and Worsened February Blackouts

    By Sami Sparber

    The lower chamber gave initial approval Monday to a series of bill responding to this year’s catastrophic power outages during a deadly winter storm.

  • Water securityInterstate Water Wars Are Heating Up Along with the Climate

    By Robert Glennon

    Interstate water disputes are as American as apple pie. States often think a neighboring state is using more than its fair share from a river, lake or aquifer that crosses borders. Climate stresses are raising the stakes.

  • Cyber resilienceMacro Cyber Resilience

    The prefixes of ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ have been applied to concepts like economics, or even to activities like photography. They are easy ideas to understand in large versus small scales. However, this term is not usually used to define cyber perspectives, an increasingly important area for security applications.

  • Nuclear storageStrengthening Nuclear Storage Research

    Today, nuclear power utilities store over 80,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel across the nation. Since the fuel will remain in dry storage longer than was expected, scientists are working to better understand exactly how the fuel behaves under extended storage conditions, how the canisters age, and the forces the two would undergo when shipped and stored for long periods.

  • Climate mitigationU.S. Power Sector is Halfway to Zero Carbon Emissions

    Concerns about climate change are driving a growing number of states, utilities, and corporations to set the goal of zeroing out power-sector carbon emissions. To date 17 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico have adopted laws or executive orders to achieve 100% carbon-free electricity in the next couple of decades. Additionally, 46 U.S. utilities have pledged to go carbon free no later than 2050. Altogether, these goals cover about half of the U.S. population and economy.

  • Negative emission technologiesNegative Emissions, Positive Economy

    By Mark Dwortzan

    The long-term goals of the Paris Agreement — keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and ideally 1.5 C in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change — may not be achievable by greenhouse gas emissions-reduction measures alone. Most scenarios for meeting these targets also require the deployment of negative emissions technologies (NETs) that remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage could help stabilize the climate without breaking the bank.

  • Planetary securityHow Do We Know Whether an Asteroid Headed Our Way Is Dangerous?

    By Jonathan O’Callaghan

    There are a lot of things that pose a threat to our planet – climate change, natural disasters, and solar flares, for example. But one threat in particular often captures public imagination, finding itself popularized in books and films and regularly generating alarming headlines: asteroids.

  • CybersecurityIn the Wake of SolarWinds: Making and Breaking a Rules-Based Global Cyber Order

    By Anatol Lieven

    We should recognize that the need to make careful distinctions between different categories of cyber operations, and shun the use of emotive and misleading language about “attacks,” should also be extended to the field of political influence via the internet. Using cyberspace to spread propaganda, influence political outcomes and reveal or invent damaging information is an extension of tactics that have been used in different ways for millennia—including by the U.S. Actually trying to rig U.S. elections by tampering with the count online would be completely different and vastly more serious.

  • ARGUMENT: Overhauling cybersecurityThe U.S. Government Needs to Overhaul Cybersecurity. Here’s How.

    After the 2015 hack of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the SolarWinds breach, and—just weeks after SolarWinds—the latest Microsoft breach, it is by now clear that the U.S. federal government is woefully unprepared in matters of cybersecurity. Jonathan Reiber and Matt Glenn write that “it is time for a different model for cybersecurity. U.S. military bases have layers of walls, guards, badge readers, and authentication measures to control access. The United States needs the same mindset for its cybersecurity.”

  • ARGUMENT: Water crisisThe U.S. Water and Wastewater Crisis – How Many Wake-up Calls Are Enough?

    In February, much of Texas plunged into darkness when the state’s electricity grid failed due to extreme cold weather conditions. What started as a foreseeable blackout quickly became a life-threatening calamity. “This catastrophe illustrates what happens when aging and inadequate infrastructure is hit by extreme rain or snow—an increasingly regular occurrence due to climate change,” Lucía Falcón Palomar, Obinna Maduka, and JoAnn Kamuf Ward write. “And, the matter extends well beyond Texas. It is easy to forget that, within U.S. borders, communities have long endured the conditions seen in Texas in February.”

  • Rare Earth elementsThe U.S. Is Worried about Its Critical Minerals Supply Chains – Essential for Electric Vehicles, Wind Power and the Nation’s Defense

    By Jordy Lee and Morgan Bazilian

    When U.S. companies build military weapons systems, electric vehicle batteries, satellites and wind turbines, they rely heavily on a few dozen “critical minerals” – many of which are mined and refined almost entirely by other countries. Building a single F-35A fighter jet, for example, requires at least 920 pounds of rare earth elements that come primarily from China. That level of dependence on imports worries the U.S. government.

  • Nuclear wasteRetaining Knowledge of Nuclear Waste Management

    Sandia National Laboratories have begun their second year of a project to capture important, hard-to-explain nuclear waste management knowledge from retirement-age employees to help new employees get up to speed faster. The project has experts share their experience with and knowledge of storage, transportation, and disposal with next generation scientists.

  • Nuclear heatRevolutionary Nuclear Heating Plant

    By Luboš Palata

    A team of scientists has come up with a radical solution to heat cities using spent nuclear rods, which they say is cost-effective and greener than natural gas. As the EU moves away from coal, many are interested.

  • Toxic leaksFlorida Governor Working to Prevent “Catastrophic Flood” of Toxic Wastewater in Tampa Area

    Florida governor Ron DeSantis has vowed to prevent a “catastrophic flood” near the major city of Tampa. A leaking toxic wastewater reservoir has the potential to cause an environmental crisis in the region.

  • Grid securityThe U.S. Needs a Macrogrid to Move Electricity from Areas that Make It to Areas that Need It

    By James D. McCalley

    Many kinds of extreme events can disrupt electricity service, including hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, extreme heat, extreme cold and extended droughts. Major disasters can leave thousands of people in the dark. During such events, unaffected regions may have power to spare. For example, during the February blackouts in Texas, utilities were generating electricity from hydropower in the Pacific Northwest, natural gas in the Northeast, wind on the northern Plains and solar power in the Southwest. Today it’s not possible to move electricity seamlessly from one end of the U.S. to the other.