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Watt's in the News? - Volume 23

The study of energy hits all STEM subjects and includes developing an understanding of politics and environmental policy, too. We want and need affordable energy in various forms to meet demands in our daily lives, but how and where this energy is produced/delivered can sometimes create challenges.

As shared in an earlier issue, one of the Commoner's Laws of Ecology states, "Everything must go somewhere." When I was teaching this lesson, I liked to toss an empty plastic water bottle to a student and ask them to throw it “away.” Invariably, they would throw it in the trash and go sit back down. I would pause, walk over and pick it up out of the trash, then give it back and remind them they were supposed to throw it “away.” The trash is not “away,” as the next stop is the landfill. The other option is a recycling bin that will take it to a recycling center. In fact, I received several small classroom/environmental grants to take students on an “Everything must go somewhere” field trip that reinforced this lesson as we toured a local single-stream recycling center to see how all of the materials are sorted followed by a trip to the highest elevation in Sedgwick County, Kansas…Brooks Landfill.

Most would agree that we need power plants, landfills, highways, sewage treatment plants, etc., but the challenging part becomes...where should they be located? It often leads to opposition referred to as "NIMBY," meaning Not In My Back Yard. We all want and enjoy the conveniences that energy provides in our daily lives, but where does this energy come from and how do we move it to where it is needed?

The government has the power of Eminent Domain as granted through the 5th Amendment of the Constitution, but is needing energy in various parts of the country for a "public use?" We have talked about the comparison of producers and consumers as it relates to life science and physical science, but in cases like the ones below, what about the people/property owners in between?

Eminent Domain for Exporting Energy?

SCOTUS hears arguments in eminent domain case involving PennEast pipeline project

Fight Continues Over Eminent Domain For Utility Line Across Missouri

Have a great week!

Tate Honaker

Meet Dan WhislerTrane Educator in Residence

Tate Honaker

Meet Bill NelsonTrane Educator in Residence

Learn more about Trane's STEM Education Programs