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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Union of Concerned Scientists president on climate change, energy

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Apr 3, 2015 12:51 PM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, April 6, 2015:

The Union of Concerned Scientists was at the forefront of debate about nuclear power in the years after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.  As a result, UCS scientists and members could often be seen in Central Pennsylvania, wrote about TMI, or offered opinions.

The safety or viability of nuclear power is just one cause the organization works on today.  They're more than likely to be addressing climate change and broader energy issues.  That includes promoting the benefits of further development of renewable energy sources.

Those are two of the topics we'll discuss on Monday's Smart Talk with Kenneth Kimmel, the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

We'll also be joined by Rob Altenburg, director of PennFuture's Energy Center who can talk about Pennsylvania specifically.

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Rob Altenburg and Ken Kimmell

Among the topics we'll address is new clean energy rules from the federal government that require Pennsylvania to reduce emissions by 32% by the year 2030.

And what about nuclear -- is it a cleaner alternative?

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-04-06 08:20

    Frank emails:

    Is there a way for PA to develop a plan that will ensure residents don't see an increase in their electricity bills?

    • Rob Altenburg img 2015-04-06 09:55


      Environmental regulations tend to consider the costs vs the benefits more than other areas of government. It has been over 40 years that the EPA and DEP/DER have been protecting the environment, and the price of electricity (adjusted for inflation) is about what it was 40 years ago.

      the DEP and EPA are both going to be paying carful attention to consumer costs. Hopefully they will look to renewable energy and energy efficiency to help keep consumer spending down.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-04-06 08:27

    Manuel writes:

    How much impact do your guests see in the increase in mining and pollution from toxic chemicals and rare earth elements which have such an impact and are an integral part of clean energy components?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-04-06 08:40

    Amanda writes:

    The fuel used in nuclear power plants is actually owned by the federal government and not the nuclear operators. Does the union of concerned scientists pressure the federal government to find a repository location for the spent fuel? What is your stance on nuclear fuel reprocessing?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-04-06 08:41

    Amanda emails:

    I don't think it is a fair statement to say that nuclear plants are not responding to fukushima in an appropriate manor, or acting like it "couldn't happen here". Plants are undergoing equipment modifications, adding additional back up equipment, and creating centrally located emergency equipment stocks. What further would be expected as a response?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-04-06 08:56

    Bill writes:

    Listened while driving to an appointment at Volvo in Shippensburg. Great conversation and guests. Good callers. Thanks for helping start my week with meaning.

  • Rob Altenburg img 2015-04-06 10:02


    All forms of mining and drilling have environmental risk. Folks point out that burning natural gas produces fewer air toxics and metals like mercury than burning coal, but natural gas has its own environmental risks. Since shutting off the power isn't an option, we need regulations to minimize the risk while we invest in the technology that will provide less risky solutions.

  • Craig img 2015-04-06 10:53

    I'd like to hear a discussion about how world population growth impacts the environment.