BURN: Blog

The BURN Blogs, with entries by series host Alex Chadwick, the SoundVision staff, and a series of energy-related essays curated by the University of Texas.

Is ‘clean coal’ the only real choice?


The cover story in the current Wired posits coal as dirty and dangerous. And the inevitable future of clean energy.

April 7, 2014 more »

Fukushima revisited

miles o'brien

Alex Chadwick and Miles O’Brien talk about Miles’ recent trip to Japan where he was one of the first journalists to enter the Fukushima Daiichi plant since the earthquake and meltdown in 2011. And Carl Pilliterri recalls what it was like to be inside the plant while the earthquake was happening.

March 10, 2014 more »

Rome BURNS: Berlusconi, Putin and a Natural Gas Pipeline

south stream pipeline

The “South Stream” pipeline, which is slated to start up next year, will bring Russian natural gas directly to Italy and elsewhere in southern and central Europe. It bypasses Ukraine, the transit state for a different Russian pipeline that currently provides the EU with much of its natural gas.

March 6, 2014 more »

Rome BURNS: Russia to raise Ukranian natural gas prices


Just around lunchtime, Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian Prime Minister, sat down to chat with Aleksei Miller, the head of Gazprom, the Russian state gas monopoly. They met in a town called Gorky, outside Moscow. Gorky means “bitter” in Russian. One wonders whether the venue was intended deliberately to underline the Kremlin’s mood regarding developments in Kiev.

March 4, 2014 more »

Rome BURNS: The Ukraine-Russia Conflict Flows out of an Energy Pipeline

Ukraine protest

The Kremlin has accused the EU of seeking a sphere of influence in Ukraine. As of this writing, nobody in Putin’s camp has publicly threatened to retaliate by cutting off EU energy access. But over the weekend, as Moscow seized control of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, a spokesman for Gazprom, Russia’s state gas company, warned that Kiev is likely to lose the gas discount promised by Putin.

March 3, 2014 more »

A new way to pay the electric bill: crowdfunding

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Crowdunding has become a great way to raise money to make a movie or build a small park. Now Californians are using social fundraising to finance solar panels.

December 10, 2013 more »

California experiments with fracking regulation

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The Golden State is looking to join the nation’s oil and natural gas boom. Challenge number one: regulating big fracking operations across Northern California. Number two: keeping the peace between anti-fracking activists and an oil industry looking to tap the state’s reserves.

December 3, 2013 more »

Greening California schools a ‘win-win’ for students and districts

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Passage of Prop. 39 last November opens the door to new funding that could go a long way in greening many of California’s schools.

November 26, 2013 more »

When the levees break – again

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Sikh farmers in Northern California fear a dilapidated levee system could spell disaster, and are anxious for the federal government to make good on promised repairs.

November 19, 2013 more »

Timeline: The US Oil Crisis, 1973-1974

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The endless gas lines, the fuel shortages across America – they’re usually blamed on OPEC’s oil embargo that began 40 years ago this month. It was meant as punishment for backing Israel in the Yom Kippur War. But the US was on its march to an oil crisis way before the fighting started.

October 29, 2013 more »