Energy used to be something we took for granted in the U.S.; it was cheap, accessible and plentiful. Now, energy seems precious, complicated and fractious, a chip in the high-stakes game of geopolitics.
These days, there's so much noise around energy: the post-9/11 terror premium; speculators distorting prices in the futures market; OPEC playing games with supply; and politicians preaching about energy independence.
Energy is now integral to the wealth of a nation. Its transformational powers can be seen in Norway to Angola, where crude oil is a recent blessing.
In the U.S., energy is a case of vanishing riches, missed opportunities — yet endless potential. Energy policy drifts, subject to short-term, not long-term considerations.
At the same time, multi-nationals and entrepreneurs are scrambling to make the most out of alternative fuels and energy-efficient technology, from hydrogen-powered autos to coal-based ethanol to energy storage. Companies from retailers to semiconductor manufacturers are embracing conservation and sustainability.