001 Doug Sandridge, Oil & Gas Executives in Support of Nuclear Energy

Fire2Fission Podcast
Fire2Fission Podcast
001 Doug Sandridge, Oil & Gas Executives in Support of Nuclear Energy

Doug Sandridge, Senior Vice President of Fulcrum Energy Capital, talks about his career, discovery of nuclear energy, advocacy for rational energy policy, and work on garnering support for nuclear energy from oil and gas executives.

Watch the full video on YouTube. Read along the full transcript on Descript.

[00:00:00] Doug Sandridge: I mean, I don’t work in the nuclear energy. I don’t get paid by the nuclear energy either under the table or over the table. So for both of you and me, it’s, this is a labor of love and we think we’re doing the right thing. For society. We’re doing the right thing for the United States and we’re doing the right thing for the rest of the world.

There’s a, there’s millions, billions of people that still do not have access to electricity, whose lives could be so improved with just a meager amount of electricity meager amount of energy. And so I think, I think we’re doing something good for the world.

[00:00:32] Intro: Just because the facts are A, if the narrative is B and everyone believes the narrative, then B is what matters. But it’s our job in our industry to speak up proudly Soberly. And to engage people in this dialogue, those two and a half billion people that are on energy poverty, they need us. America cannot meet this threat alone.

If there is a single country, of course, the world cannot meet it without America that is willing to, we’re gonna need you the next generation to finish the job. Nuclear regulations, we need scientists to design new fuels, focus on net public benefits. We need engineers to invent new technologies for over absurd levels of radiation production entrepreneurs to sell those technologies.

And we’ll march towards this. We need workers to operate a. With High Tech Zero Prosperity Football, diplomats, businessmen, and women and Peace Corps volunteers to help developing nations, the development and transition sources of, in other words, we need you.

[00:01:36] Mark Hinaman: Okay, welcome to Fire2Fission podcast, where we talk about energy dense fuels and how they can better human lives. We’ve got an awesome topic today with Doug Sandridge. We’re gonna chat about oil and gas and nuclear and how they can pair together and some of the work that Doug’s done. So Doug is senior Vice President at Fulcrum Energy Capital.

And we’ll, we’ll chat a little bit about his day job. What he does, but we’ve, we wanna chat about a project and an open letter that he’s been working on. So, Doug, how you doing this morning? 

[00:02:10] Doug Sandridge: I’m fantastic. Yes. Fantastic to talk to you today. Excellent. 

[00:02:14] Mark Hinaman: So Doug , real quick for the audience, why don’t you give kind of a background on, on yourself what, what is Fulcrum Energy Capital what, what have you done for career?

Yeah, let’s, let’s start there. 

[00:02:25] Doug Sandridge: All right. I guess we’ll start with start at the beginning. I, I had somewhat of an unusual childhood. My dad was a petroleum geologist for Phyllis Petroleum for almost 40 years. And in 1966, when I was six years old, seven years old, he got invited to join their international department.

And back then in the international part, once you went in the international department, you pretty much stayed there the rest of your career. So when we first moved overseas, we assumed that we were gonna be over there. Most, most of the time. We moved to Norway and my dad was working offshore as a geologist in the North Sea before they even found oil and gas over there.

They, had a good idea. It was there. He drilled wells for two years and then we moved to the Netherlands after that. And it wasn’t until about a year and a half after we left Norway, that the first discovery was finally made. Eco Fisk, I believe, was discovered in November of 1969, we had already moved to the Netherlands, so he was working in, the Dutch North Sea sector, the Netherlands north Sea sector.

And then we lived there a few years and lived in London, England for several years and lived in South America in Bogota, Colombia. And so I didn’t really live in the States as a child or, or go to school until I came back for 10th grade. And a little bit of a culture shock to move from South America to Midland High School.

Midland Lee High School. And you know, I walked in, 

[00:03:51] Mark Hinaman: was that mid, like Midland, like Texas, 

[00:03:52] Doug Sandridge: like Midland, Texas. Yeah. Midland, Texas. Mid 

[00:03:57] Mark Hinaman: the oilfield. 

[00:03:57] Doug Sandridge: Yeah. Yes. So yeah, it was fantastic. Childhood. Got to see a lot of different things moved around. Got a different, obviously grew up different perspective.

I’d really planned, most of my friends were going to Texas A&M. That’s what I had wanted to do, follow my friends to Texas A&M. But my dad knew that they, he and my sister and my mom were probably gonna be moving back overseas. And so they encouraged me to think about going to University of Oklahoma.

Because I had family in Oklahoma and the other reason was, it’s kind of interesting at the time in Oklahoma. I mean, if you live overseas, you don’t really have an in-state tuition, do you how do you, how do you get in-state tuition? Your parents live in Africa or wherever, so turns out in Oklahoma and you’re in America, right?

Yeah. And I’m America. I, I doubt that this is still the case, but at the time, Oklahoma was very gracious. Oklahoma University. If you work for a company like Conoco or Carnegie or Phillips that was headquartered in Oklahoma, they would give your kids. In-state tuition if you lived overseas, but we’re working for a Oklahoma based company.

So I went to OU and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I think I wanted to be an architect at first. And I still loved architecture, but I, I realized that wasn’t the major for me. So my sophomore year I declared to become a nuclear engineer. And, and if the truth be known, it was not because I had this burning desire to be a nuclear engineer.

I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. And it sounded cool. And you knew if you went out, the girls were gonna be wooed. Oh yeah. I’m a nuclear engineering major, so that’s, That’s why, why I was a nuclear engineering major, not for the right reasons, but it’s just so happened and I’m, I’m revealing my age here.

My sophomore year in, in college is the year that three Mile Island accident happened. And so then, you know, the nuclear world kind of blew up and I ended up getting into oil and gas. So I worked in oil and gas for over 40 years. 

[00:05:46] Mark Hinaman: Were you able to capitalize on that in-state tuition? I mean, 

[00:05:49] Doug Sandridge: Yeah. And I did have in-state tuition there, it was great.

So Nice. And I had grand grandparents who lived in Oklahoma City, so I had a support system there. I went home every weekend, did my laundry, got home cooked meals while my parents were living in Europe or Africa, wherever they were at the time. So this is pretty cool. 

[00:06:05] Mark Hinaman: Gotcha. Yeah. So parents worked in oil and gas kind of generation of oil and gas and, and you’ve spent a career working in it, right?

[00:06:14] Doug Sandridge: I have. I spent most of my career Really in either Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Colorado. I moved back to Colorado in 2006. My wife’s a native here in Colorado and she had followed me to Texas for 20 plus years, and so we moved back to Colorado and I worked for a Colorado company that was actually doing business in Kansas and Texas.

And then after that that was a private equity company. And after they sold out, I went to work for forest Oil. But I was working as their land manager for Texas, Louisiana, and all, you know, all things other than Colorado. And it wasn’t until I joined a, a startup team, a private equity team that I first worked in Colorado about 10 years ago.

So I’ve been working on 

[00:07:03] Mark Hinaman: Gotcha. But got scared of the engineering side and, and went and did the land 

[00:07:08] Doug Sandridge: The petroleum land management degree that I got at University of Oklahoma at the time, and I’m sure it’s the same now as pretty robust, it’s a business degree, but we had to take quite a bit of engineering classes.

We had to take geologic classes, legal classes, finance classes. So it was a pretty, it’s a business degree, but it was a fairly well-rounded degree. And and I actually did a lot of work in the field, you know, in college I was a pumper. And a mechanic and aroused about and a rough neck for several years.

I really loved the rough necking. It was exciting. You made a lot of money. I could make more money on a weekend than my friends could make, you know, work at a whole month at the shoe store. So I loved doing that. But one day my dad said, you know, son, that’s not a, it’s not a profession for a family man.

You might want to think about doing something other than roughnecking. I, I might still be doing it, but, so I love that. And so it gave me a really balanced, a balanced background. And I really wasn’t. I’ve, I’ve always been pro-nuclear, but I, I, I can’t say that I. Ever was actively pro-nuclear because when you’re in a 70 hour week job and you have three kids and a wife, you don’t even have time for yourself, much less time to advocate for somebody else’s industry.

So I really did not come back around to nuclear until I. Around Covid time is when it started to change during Covid. You know, we’re all locked down. All my kids, all my grown kids moved back home and we’re all stuck inside together. And I decided, well, I I take it back. At the time I was teaching energy classes at University of Oklahoma and I always felt like I needed to be well prepared cuz a lot of the students I were teaching were really smart and I needed to be sure that I was on my game.

So I did something that was kind of, I. Kind of questionable, but I decided I would read all the policy positions of all 20 plus Democratic candidates for president to see, you know, how they felt about energy. And of course most of ’em didn’t have energy policies and, and some of the energy policies were pretty ridiculous.

But the one that really got me most incensed was Michael Bloomberg because he’s a smart guy. I don’t necessarily align with him on a lot of issues, but obviously he’s a smart guy and he had on his website, if you elect me president, then we’ll be 80% renewable energy by the end of my second term.

And I’m like, this, it is not a matter of willpower. It’s not a matter of money that cannot happen. And it made me mad that somebody smart like that would pander to people and, and say what they wanted to hear, knowing that it wasn’t, wasn’t true. And so I started to do more research about all the ways that this net zero carbon emissions goals and, and, and how this was all gonna work.

And at that time as I was going through that personal exercise, it occurred to me that were really not going to do serious decarbonization without much more nuclear energy. We’re not, we’re not gonna, industrial society cannot. Take place with renewables alone. And so I, I started to think about nuclear as coming back to coming back home to nuclear energy and saying, if we wanna do something serious about good energy policy, we need to look more seriously at nuclear energy.

So that was kind of where I started to get back into it. And I, I guess the, the time that I finally got radicalized into supporting nuclear energy was a year later, I guess is about May, April or May, I think it was the end of April, 2021. They closed Indian Point power Station in New York. That was a perfectly good, 

[00:10:41] Mark Hinaman: what was indian Point?

[00:10:43] Doug Sandridge: So Indian Point was a great, beautifully run as Emmett Penny would say, cathedral Industrial Cathedral of Clean Energy. It was a great great site and basically it was closed down for purely political reasons. Governor Cuomo of New York was under pressure from a bunch of Manhattan socialites to, to close it down, and it was closed down.

It was providing 25%. Of the electricity to New York City and you know, something like 50% of all the renewable energy in the state of New York. It’s just, I mean, not renewable, but clean energy in the state of New York. And it, it made me angry. I’m a very big fan of Robert Bryce and Robert, you know, does he normally podcasts?

His Power Hungry podcast is once a week, but he was so incensed after Indian Point that he Did a series day, four days in a row of podcasts. He called an Indian Point blackout week, and he was trying to highlight the stupidity of of closing that Indian point. And by the time. I got through listening to his four consecutive episodes of the Power Hungry Podcast.

I was ready to run through a wall to save, you know, existing nuclear power plants. And I mean, I wasn’t advocating necessarily for new nuclear power. I just felt like, it seemed obvious to me that the lowest hanging fruit on clean energy was to keep existing power plants open. You’ve got all these nuclear power plants that are trying to be shut down and they’re, they’re cheap.

They’re safe, they’re reliable, they’re clean. And to shut ’em down for purely political reasons, made me very angry. So that’s how I really got started on my venture into nuclear energy. 

[00:12:21] Mark Hinaman: Gotcha. I’m gonna back up a little bit the, your time in oil and gas. I mean, you, like you said, you weren’t working in nuclear, you’ve had a career putting holes in the ground.

I’m going up, securing land and, you know, looking on the regulatory side. In your experience or in your time in oil and gas, had there been an attitude that y you know, they, did they view or did anyone in the industry view nuclear as a, as a competitor? Was there any anti-nuclear sentiment in your experience?

I have. Talk to us a little bit about that. 

[00:12:52] Doug Sandridge: I have never heard anyone in my industry say anything negative nuclear energy. Now I. Obviously, I don’t know all 4 million employee people that are employed in, in oil and gas. Yeah. And obviously there’s somebody that’s anti that’s gonna be anti-nuclear.

But as a general rule, I don’t know anyone in my industry who is anti-nuclear and I really haven’t heard of any overt efforts now, you know, in the in an Oliver Stone’s recent movie. There was some, he alluded to the fact that maybe back in the seventies, maybe there were some efforts by, I’m not even sure I’m gonna say what organization, maybe there was an organization back then.

I think the Rockefellers maybe in it. Maybe were involved. And so maybe there was some shenanigans back in the seventies where some oil and gas executives may have been, 

[00:13:42] Mark Hinaman: you know, Jack, Jack Devaney has a good history on this. So he’s the founder of Thor Con, and he’s put together a. Synopsis cuz Yeah, there’s a, I’ll say theory within the nuclear industry that oil and gas was out, out to get ’em.

They said, oh man, this is the only industry that can displace us and they might be a competitor and so we need to go out and take ’em out. And people point to the Rockefeller Foundation funding some of the research that went behind L n T or the linear no threshold theory. And when you go back and look at the history, actually Jack, Jack Vanney points out.

They’re, the Rockefellers weren’t really associated with oil and gas at all anymore. By the time they started funding that research, it was really almost an, an atonement that they, they wanted to get away from energy and it was kinda an elitist, classist effort more than anti, anti-nuclear. So, and I’ve, there, there’s one other example that he gives about the CEO of Arco making one donation.

But then never making a second donation because I think it was to the Sierra Club, went out and basically just smeared oil and gas, and it’s like, well, that was dumb. I’m not gonna make any more donations. Right. Like, so I’ve, I’ve struggled and I, I’ll echo your sentiment, right. Spending my career in oil and gas my a lifetime in oil and gas, like, you know, growing up in a family, never heard any anti-nuclear sentiment.


[00:15:06] Doug Sandridge: No, it’s, it’s, it’s just not there. Yeah. And anybody who thinks that, I mean, even if it happened in the seventies, which that’s, that’s doubtful it hasn’t happened in recent history and I certainly It’s 50 years ago, right? Like Yeah. Yeah. It, it, it’s, it’s really ludicrous. And if they really believe that, then they’re misinformed.

Right. I think that people in oil and gas Whatever you think about oil and gas, we have the ability to recognize good sources of energy and less good sources of energy, inferior sources of energy. I think we’re very attuned to what’s good and what’s bad. And so I think even though we’re not in nuclear energy, we can recognize another great energy source and acknowledge that without, you know, any, any shame or apprehension.

So I think generally oil and gas people are pro. Pro-nuclear. 

[00:15:54] Mark Hinaman: Well, and that’s a good pivot point. Let’s transition to the project. Your Honor, what, what is it? Give us some background. Why, why’d you get started? Yeah. 

[00:16:03] Doug Sandridge: So, Before I quite get right to that. Let me just, okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tell you the, the final steps to my story back to nuclear. So we, I was Radicalized by Robert Bryce and, and actually one of his, one of the four guests that he had during that time was Mark Nelson.

Of course, you and I both know Mark really well. Love Mark and I super, I love Mark and super smart guy. And so he I started paying more attention to what he, I loved what his interview was with Robert Bryce. I started going and looking other places and found that he was, you know, interviewing with decouple and other places.

So and. I generally as a, as a professor at University of Oklahoma, I generally try and post things on LinkedIn or much to a lesser degree on Twitter. But I try and talk about energy from an educational standpoint, not from political standpoint. I try and whatever I’m writing, whatever I’m saying, I’m trying to, to bring us all up in our energy intelligence and not really make things political.

And I do that because. You know, that’s the right thing to do. But also because if you start getting overtly political, then half your audience, you lose half your audience with the first sentence of your, of your article. And then, not to mention the fact that my kids hate for me to get political. So you know, I don’t normally get political in anything that I write or post.

But later that summer, right on the heels of Indian Point Illinois was about to, was getting close to closing. Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants. And I was following that just from a distance. I wasn’t involved in the, the efforts to save that, you know, a lot of my friends were involved in saving those plants, but I was just on the periphery.

But a few days before the vote was being taken by the, the legislature in Illinois, I did get a little political and I wrote a post. On LinkedIn that said Democrats aren’t serious about nuclear energy, I mean about climate change. Cuz if they were, they would not be shutting down Byron and Dresden.

Of course, I got a lot of blow back from that post, but it was true and I felt like it was they, they eventually unbelievably saved those plants by a vote or two. But I think that was a turning point because after Indian Point, it really roused a lot of people’s awareness of the tragedy of shutting down all these nuclear power plants.

Then they saved Byron and Dresden, and so shortly after that that I connected with Mark Nelson and I said, what can I do to help the cause? And so he got me. He pulled me in. And got me involved in a lot of these advocacy groups to save Diablo Canyon and other things. I wasn’t real active in a lot of those groups.

I was really trying to listen and learn. I was the only oil and gas guy in a lot of those groups. As Mark would say, sometimes I was his token oil and gas guy and he’d said, we need to build a broader consensus for nuclear. And having oil and gas people involved was, was good. But normally I would just sit and listen to these to these meetings and occasionally donate some money or a little bit of time.

But then mark said the next thing you can do if you really want to get involved is come with me to Berlin and we’re gonna go protest the shutdown of the they shut down three new Germany shutdown, three nuclear power plants in December of 2021. And so I went with Mark and I met with a lot. I met a lot of Europeans.

They had people from maybe 20 or 25 countries that showed up to, you know, I won’t say it was a protest, it was a demonstration or a rally to show their concern about shutting down these nuclear power plants. And so from that point forward than I really got much more active in the cause of A saving nuclear power plants.

And then B, you know, let’s have an honest discussion about what we can do to increase the amount of nuclear power we have. On our system. So then fast forward to last fall, so we’ll get to the current initiative. Last fall, I was sitting on a conference call with a bunch of nuclear advocates in California.

And again, like I said, I normally just sit and listen. I, I normally don’t actively participate. I’m listening and learning. And someone said, well, we know that all the oil and gas people hate nuclear energy and we know that they actively. You know, they actively try and undermine our industry. And I’m like, wait a second.

That is just not true. That is not worth, and, and I mean, I really, totally false. And so I spoke up and I won’t say who, but I said so and so, you’re wrong about this. I do not believe that’s true. I said I, I don’t know everyone in the oil and gas business, but I have never met anyone that doesn’t support nuclear energy.

And I, I doubt that there’s shenanigans going on behind the scenes where oil companies are undermining nuclear energy. So but after the meeting, I started to second guess myself and think, well, maybe my paradigm’s wrong. Maybe I assume that everyone thinks the way I do. So I started asking people, asking around You know, to see if I could find anyone who, who did not support nuclear energy.

And I, I, to this day, that’s been eight months ago, to this day, I have not found a single person in our industry who does not support nuclear energy. Again, I’m sure there’s someone, but I don’t know them. And so then I started to think, I’ve been working on, you know, with these folks for a year and a half or two years.

I’ve been trying to think of a way that I could actually do some good for the cause because up to this point, other than traveling to Berlin and holding a sign that says, you know, Germans don’t shut down your nuclear plants, I hadn’t really done very much meaningful. And so I had this idea that how powerful would it be if we had a whole bunch of industry executives in the oil and gas industry come out and openly support the use of nuclear energy, oil and gas executives who gain nothing from doing that.

But they would still support nuclear energy. You don’t hear people in solar industry coming out in the support of coal industry. You don’t hear people in the wind industry coming out in the support of oil and gas. So I thought this might be a powerful idea. So I slept on it a couple of days and then I thought, I like the idea, but I’m not sure.

What to do with it or where it would go, and I wasn’t sure I really had the gravitas to pull it off. So I called our mutual friend, actually I texted Chris Wright the CEO of Liberty Energy, and of course he is the. Probably the, the one of the greatest leaders in our industry in terms of being out there in front messaging and real common sense policy.

Not afraid to say what he thinks. 

[00:22:18] Mark Hinaman: He’s, he’s the audio for our intro. Okay. So, so Chris is the bathroom. We took a clip or we gotta, we got permission from him to use a clip. Clip for, from a speech that he gave. Yeah. Talking about being proud. So I, I 

[00:22:30] Doug Sandridge: actually, I, I actually texted Chris. And Chris is a busy guy, so it was very heartening to me when he almost immediately texted me back and said, I love this idea.

Let’s do it. So I started to put together what I call we, what we eventually called the Declaration of Oil and Gas Executives in, support of nuclear energy. And it took longer than it should have to put this together. But I do have my own real job. I do have a family. I’ve got other things to do. It ranged over the ensuing five months, it ranged from one page to six pages in length trying to get the right link, the right tone, the right facts.

And so finally in March, I started to hone in on something that I thought was pretty good. And it was about two pages long, and so I sent it to several people, including you, who gave me some advice and some feedback, and then after I got all the feedback and Emmett Emmett Penny gave me some great feedback.

Liz gave me some great feedback, Liz Matson. But in the final analysis, as you know, Mark Nelson came into town to go skiing one weekend when I picked him up the airport. We met at the bar. You met us at the bar, and we sat down and kind of hammered out the final language of this. So then I emailed Chris, 

[00:23:46] Mark Hinaman: which was super fun.

I have to, I have to comment on this experience, right? We were sitting down wordsmithing over beers about how exactly Yeah. Transformed this message, and I don’t know. It, it was a wonderful experience for me, so I really appreciate you. 

[00:23:59] Doug Sandridge: Yeah. And thank you for, for being a part of it. And so I then I, I emailed Chris and I said, I think we finally got something.

I, I wasn’t even sure if he’d remember. Months ago saying what a good idea this was. But he immediately said, oh no, this is great. And I said, well, I’d like to email it to you to look at so that you know you can tell me what your comments are cuz I’d like you to be the first person to sign it. What are your comments before?

And he says, I’m sure it’s great, bring it over. So I took it over to his office and gave it to his, a personal assistant. And the next morning I got a call and said, Chris assigned it, he loves it. And so we’re off, off to the races. So you and I signed it. And we started getting other signatures on it. And this has been less than two months ago, seven weeks ago was the first signature.

And since that time we’ve got over 65 executives. Who have signed it, some really big names. I think there’s power in the big names, but there’s also power in numbers. And so we continue to move forward with you know, my, my first goal was to get 50. Now we’re over that. My next goal is to get a hundred and, you know, who knows?

It’s a lot of work to get a. Get people to sign up. Cuz the people we’re trying to approach are very busy executives and just getting their piece of their time. 

[00:25:08] Mark Hinaman: They’ve got a full-time day job. They’re trying to produce energy for the world. Right. Like leading companies and industry to Yeah.

[00:25:14] Doug Sandridge: Yeah. So it’s a really cool project and, and I think when we’re done with it, I think we’re gonna go out and talk to people like you about it. We’ve got lots of offers for podcasts, but it, it seemed appropriate that fire2fission was our first one. And we’ve got some newspapers and magazines who are interested in the story.

So we’ll see where that goes. And I, I kind of eventually think as, as time goes on, we’ll just continue to, to garner signatures. And then if we have something come up e either at a state level or on the federal level, say there’s a, a new bill coming out to give some money or to change regulations or something, then we can leverage this into some support for whichever side of the legislative argument we want.

We could mail out copies of these to all 50 senators and all the representatives in the US or maybe at a state level. So I think this, this project could go on and on and on. 

[00:26:13] Mark Hinaman: I love it. I’ve been thinking on this a lot. What do you anticipate being like a go public strategy?

Posting the letter on online or mailing it to some senators, what’s, yeah, what’s your vision? 

[00:26:26] Doug Sandridge: Well, we, we are going to post it online very soon. I did you know, I had no idea how successful this would be, so we’re kind of scrambling to catch up. But we do have a website, which I saw the the beta version last week, and I think we’ll have a website up.

By this coming week, which will have the declaration where you can go to the website, look at the declaration and then you can go to another page where it won’t see everyone’s signature, but you see a list of all the signatory parties to it. Then we’ve got a couple of other pages in addition to that, some, some nuclear resource page and other things like that.

So that, that’s the first thing. We have been invited by some Newspaper organizations, which I’m not gonna get into who they are right now to submit a op-ed. About nuclear energy. The need for, I mean, what this is really about is the need for more common sense energy policy. I mean, what we have here is we have a, we have a energy permeates virtually every aspect of our life.

It is the lifeblood of every modern economy. Every other industry relies on safe, reliable, and affordable electricity or energy. In order for that that business to, to survive. And yet most people in the us, most people in the world take energy and electricity for granted. They don’t think about when they turn on the light switch.

Where does it come from? All the people that were involved in making it happen and some of our energy policies right now are, are grossly unrealistic. I’m afraid we’re gonna spend a lot of money on things that don’t work and we would’ve been better off spending that money maybe on some nuclear power plants or something else.

So, This is really about public policy and trying to educate the public. So our, goal is not nuclear energy in and of itself. My goal, excuse me, is to have better energy literacy, better energy intelligence. And if, the public becomes more energy literate, we’re gonna have politicians who are more energy literate, they’re gonna, make better decisions.

And so that’s where we’re going with this is, better energy policy that will help the country and the world. 

[00:28:39] Mark Hinaman: Awesome. What, what are some of the recommendations? I mean, well, well formatted letter, it got down to what, two pages, right? Yes. And so I mean, you just voiced some of the message that I think the first half of it covers, right.

And then kind of the second half discusses some, some recommendations. Do you chat about any of those? 

[00:28:57] Doug Sandridge: Well I’m gonna go from memory here. I don’t have a copy of it in front of me, but, but fir first of all, we need to we need to get our I think this could be the bipartisan issue of our time. We need to get political parties together because we may have different parties and different political people in the across the political spectrum.

Advocating for nuclear for different reasons, but I think we can all agree that more nuclear energy is going to be necessary and good for, for the country.

[00:29:30] Mark Hinaman: Really good for humanity. Ab good for humanity. 

[00:29:32] Doug Sandridge: Yeah. And, does it matter whether you’re doing it for strictly climate reasons or if you’re strictly doing it for, because you’re a nuclear engineer or whatever reason doesn’t matter?

I think that we can get, we should try and get a more bipartisan. Support for nuclear energy. And we’re seeing that in a lot of places. We’re seeing at the federal level, we’re seeing it in a lot of states now. Illinois just lifted, correct me if I’m wrong, just lifted their ban on new nuclear energy and Illinois is a very democratic state, so the fact that they were able to pass that by 

[00:30:03] Mark Hinaman: wide market and it was a big swing. It was like it’s 84 to 22 or something like that. 

[00:30:08] Doug Sandridge: Exactly. You know? Yeah. And shout out to all of our friends in Illinois who helped make that happen.

Mattie Hilly, Mark Nelson probably Eric Meyer was involved. I know Alan Metzker was, was hugely involved in that. Probably Liz Matson was as well. So all those people who helped make that happen, that is fantastic. Unfortunately there are places where that has not become a bipartisan issue yet.

And Colorado, the state where you and I both live it’s still pretty anti-nuclear on the Democratic side, so we’ve got some work to do there. So that’s one thing is to get the, the, the political parties aligned to move forward on this. And we’ve got to make some, we, we need some, changes of the Nuclear regulatory Commission, obviously the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has lost its way in some, some, some ways.

I don’t wanna come down too hard on them, but the reality is, is they are a big hold up on permitting. And I think that if we’re gonna make, we, we’ve got, I, I think I’ve heard that we have almost 50 new nuclear designs of some sort coming down the pipe. And I don’t know how we’re going to even evaluate even a small percentage of those with the regulations and the staff that we have, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

So we gotta make some changes there. I heard the other day on somebody else’s podcast, and so I’m gonna quote them and I haven’t verified these figures, but I think they’re probably in the ballpark. But I heard that the application process for one recent. Nuclear company, just the application process to the NRC was 17,000 pages long, and then the supporting documentation was 4 million pages long.

How, how, how does it, how does 

[00:31:52] Mark Hinaman: it, I’m not surprised. 

[00:31:53] Doug Sandridge: How, does the, I’ve heard somewhere numbers. Yeah. 

[00:31:55] Mark Hinaman: So I, I think Cairo spent 17 or 18,000 hours of the regulator’s time. And they pay by the hour, right? $290 an hour. So that’s several million dollars that they’ve spent or paid to the regulator.

For what there, there’s no reactor bill. So, and we, we come at this from oil and gas where we’re actively generating a lot of energy and there’s a permitting process. We think it’s sufficient and safe, and yes, you, you can always spend more money and more time to make improvements, but is the return on that money in time?

Benefit, beneficial. You know, are we actually saving lives or saving years of life by adding these regulations compared to other ways that we could invest our time and money? , 

[00:32:38] Doug Sandridge: they’ve gotten good at saying, they’ve gotten good at saying no, and we need to get to the position where we can say yes to something.

And I, I, I believe, I hate to quote, but I believe that Berg recently said that they would take over. The, the job of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for much less money than what we’re paying the NRC to do their job. And they would do it for much less because all they have to do is say no. They could do the same job at, at much less price.

So we’ve gotta get the nuclear regulatory Commission staffed up and we gotta, we have to have a better attitude. Of being open-minded to actually approving something to get done. And then another thing that we have to do is we have to a very important thing we need to do is amend the, the way that market regulations on how we buy and sell and generate electricity.

Because the market design is important, we supposedly deregulated the electricity business in a bunch of states. 10, 15 years ago, supposedly we didn’t deregulate it. We reregulated in it a different way, and so it’s still regulated and unfortunately the regulations are being used in a way to favor wind and solar.

And disfavor other energies types like oil and gas, but in particular nuclear energy. And so there are a lot of nuclear power plants in the country that are uneconomic in the current market environment because they’ve been forced off the grid to be used only when wind and solar, you know, can’t.

Provide electricity inter so they, they produce intermittently. And nuclear, as we all know, works best as a base load. It can, there is some ability to load follow, but. It works best as a, as a base load. And so when you relegate them to just a, backup to wind and solar, they’re not economic.

And so a lot of these plants are being shut down and the wind and solar industry then say, or others say, maybe not just wind and solar, but others say, well, nuclears no longer economic. Well, it’s not economic because the market design, you forced them out of the market. So we have to have market design 

[00:34:49] Mark Hinaman: not adequately compensating for all the value that’s provided to society.

[00:34:52] Doug Sandridge: Exactly. So I think market reform and NRC reform are probably of the ones that the two most important.

[00:35:00] Mark Hinaman: Yeah. So I mean, these were recommendations that were in, in the letter that oil and gas executives then read. I mean, you’ve reached out to, like you said, a bunch of people and there’s been very positive response.

That people agree. I mean, these are the leaders of the fossil oil and gas existing incumbent industry that, you know, read these points and they say, yes, this makes sense. We we’re pro-energy. We want more nuclear, we want more energy and prosperity, and we, we think that this, this should be something that should be talked about.

So you’ve, you’ve garnered support for it. 

[00:35:36] Doug Sandridge: The, the vast majority of the people that. I have asked to sign, have signed almost immediately. I’m, I’m, I’m amazed how many people I, I, I get ahold of an executive of a major company and I say, would you be interested in supporting this Toby Rice and ETT? I get, I sent him ETT CEO of ETT.

I sent him an email and within 30 minutes he’s not only agreed, but he signed it and sent it back. There, there are some, there are some executives who can’t sign because of political consideration, so they’ll send me a note back and say, I would love to sign it. I support nuclear energy, but my board of director says it’s not appropriate for me to sign it.

So I’ve had a handful of those people. I’ve had a few that haven’t answered me, but the vast majority if I’ve asked them to. 

[00:36:27] Mark Hinaman: But you’ve also had some that have come outta the woodwork or, you know, they, they told their buddies about it, or some of their friends or executives at other companies, and then they, you know, a, a signed letter will show up on your desk and you, you didn’t even reach out, right?


[00:36:40] Doug Sandridge: Exactly. I. I reached out to a friend of mine in Oklahoma one day, and then a couple of couple hours later I got a signed letter from Bud Brigham that Brigham Exploration, and he had heard about it through the grapevine and. I mean, he immediately sent it back and then he sent it to a couple of his friends who signed it.

We had the founder of Veris, who I never even met and never sent it to, and he, emailed me a, a signature. So yeah, I, I have not had anyone, I’ve not had a single person, not one oil and gas executive has said, I will not sign it cuz I don’t support nuclear energy. And I think that’s a very powerful message to the public and to policy makers and to our politicians.

[00:37:22] Mark Hinaman: Yeah. I love it. Well, Doug, I’m, very excited to kind of go public with this and to, you know, see, see the impact that it’s going to have. I think it’s gonna have a really, really awesome message. It’s a great story. You know, you identified how you could help in this narrative and this process. Uh, You know, we’re similar in that we, see some policy decisions being made that we, as energy experts, right? People that feel qualified to speak on these issues say, this, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. I don’t think this is gonna work. Like we need to do something to change it. And you really, I mean, you didn’t sit on your hands. You were proactive and went out and created something that is gonna be valuable.

So I, I thank you for the effort that you put into it and the, the project. 

[00:38:06] Doug Sandridge: I, I thank you for helping write the the declaration. I thank you for seeing the vision of this. I thank you for having me on the podcast today. So yeah, I, I think it’s a, it’s a great project. It’s kind of a, it’s, it’s a labor of love.

I mean, I don’t work in the nuclear energy. I don’t get paid by the nuclear energy either under the table or over the table. So for both of you and me, it’s, this is a labor of love and we think we’re doing the right thing. For society. We’re doing the right thing for the United States and we’re doing the right thing for the rest of the world.

There’s a, there’s millions, billions of people that still do not have access to electricity, whose lives could be so improved with just a meager amount of electricity meager amount of energy. And so I think, I think we’re doing something good for the world.

[00:38:52] Mark Hinaman: I totally agree. Do you think this will live on and be kind of an evergreen project?

What, what’s the future look like? 

[00:39:00] Doug Sandridge: Well, I’m hoping so. I mean, I’m limited in the amount of time I can spend on this. 

[00:39:04] Mark Hinaman: Yeah, you can only send so many emails, right? So we need to set up a system that people can, can support and otherwise, or perpetually, right? 

[00:39:10] Doug Sandridge: Yeah. I, I think this could go on for a while.

I mean, I don’t know how long I’ll actively solicit. I was kind of hoping to become self-perpetuating that I get somebody and then people would invite their friends, and then I wouldn’t even have to ask anybody anymore. But that hasn’t been the case. You really, with these important people, these executives, you do have to, to run ’em down.

[00:39:28] Mark Hinaman: They expect a personal invitation. 

[00:39:30] Doug Sandridge: They do. But I, I do expect this to go on. And then, like I said, I think as, as this, Kind of goes on for years, maybe a year or two as legislative initiatives come up and there’s an opportunity for us to influence the decisions that are made, we can use this declaration of support as some, as a way to convince people to, to support nuclear energy in the public sec, in the public sector.

So, yeah, it’s gonna, it’s gonna live on. Excellent. 

[00:39:58] Mark Hinaman: Doug Sandridge, really appreciate the time. Thanks so much for chatting with me. 

[00:40:02] Doug Sandridge: Thanks. See you when you get back to Colorado.

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