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President Obama laid down the gauntlet for supporters of old fashioned energy, calling oil a “fuel of the past” before a receptive audience in North Carolina. The President called for the development of energy alternatives – even as gas prices climbed into the $4 range. Republicans jeered the President’s anaylsis, saying that it is his administrations restrictions on oil exploration and drilling that has led to the price rise. Voters may have a chance to pick the winning entry in November.

The President’s call for natural gas vehicles may not be far away as Detroit auto companies rushed to embrace the Boone Pickens technology. Chrysler announced it will be introducing a natural-gas powered version of the Ram Heavy Duty truck and GM heralded a gas-powered pick-up. Honda, which has a gas-powered vehicle on the market, wants some of its dealers to install natural gas pumps. The companies report customer support is growing.

Japan is preparing to mark the one-year anniversary of Fukushima, still uncertain of its nuclear future. The country has shut down all but two of its 54 reactors and is still suffering economic pain. The country is still searching for alternatives but Shojiro Matsuura, chairman of Japan's Nuclear Safety Research Association, says there is really no choice but to return to nuclear. Meanwhile, American nuclear experts are trying to absorb the lesson of the accident.

Ralph Nader joined the gas price debate by blaming it all on “speculators.” But Business Week asks if those speculators aren’t just factoring in a possible war with Iran. The Bingaman Clean Energy Standard is getting rave reviews in some quarters, but the Heritage Foundation calls it “just another energy tax.” Senator Lamar Alexander called for an end to wind energy subsidies and the Council of Foreign Relations asks what will happen if Cuba creates an offshore oil spill?

Overshadowing all this, however, may be that solar storm (above) headed for the earth at this moment.  The huge tide of charged particles is expected to produce auroras as far south as Tasmania – and possibly disrupt GPS services and the electric grid as well. There are even disaster scenarios where whole cities are blacked out for weeks or months. Some experts are giving it a 1-in-8 chance. It probably won’t be as big as the famous Carrington Event of 1859, the biggest solar even ever recorded. But then the nation didn’t have an electric grid in those days.

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