By Dan Shapley
There is nothing simple about the energy future of the United States. Of course, even if the choices were simple, it's fair to say that energy policy politics would still get tangled. As the Senate debates the energy bill, the prospect of increased oil and gas exploration along America's coasts was shelved, and a vote on requiring utilities to derive a portion of their electricity from renewable sources was held up, perhaps indefinitely. The two sticking points highlight important aspects of energy policy. Increased oil and gas exploration could produce new domestic fuel supplies -- a step toward the universal goal of "energy independence" (that is, freedom from entanglements with hostile oil-rich regions). But new oil, gas and coal -- however abundant domestically -- contribute to global warming and other pollution in ways that renewable fuels like sun, wind and biomass do not. The deals struck to reach the goal of energy independence cannot compromise on the future of the world's climate, according to a story in the June 15 Los Angeles Times.