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Things turned deadly in the Algerian desert as the government send a commando team to try to rescue hostages at a remote natural gas drilling site. The attempt proved a disaster and 30 oil company hostages are believed to have been killed. America, Japan and Europe questioned the strategy and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron said the crisis is not over. The attack and hostage taking by Islamic militants raised serious questions about North Africa’s gas industry.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is rumored to be resigning . . . . although a Department of Energy spokesman denied the report. Most other sources are accepting Chu’s departure as a fait accompli and are already evaluating his legacy. The consensus seems to be that while the Nobel Physicist brought scientific expertise to the job, he ended up navigating some treacherous political waters.

Ken Salazar’s legacy seems mixed as well as the Secretary of the Interior prepares his resignation for March. Environmentalists are generally happy with the way he has opened up public lands to vast developments of windmills and solar panels – 72 square miles in California alone. But the oil industry believes he has dragged his feet on opening federal lands for exploration and seriously overreacted to the Gulf oil spill by slowing down leasing to a crawl. Investors’ Business Daily says his tenure as been “disastrous.”

Corn ethanol’s days are becoming rocky as reports about food shortages in the developing world cast doubt upon the industry. The U.S. drought has shortened supplies and closed processing plants in California and Nebraska. Criticism of the whole effort is mounting yet Seeking Alpha reports share prices of ethanol companies are rising. Go figure.

On The Energy Collective, Sarah Battaglia reports that propane may be an alternative to gasoline in the transport sector. Liquid propane is already the third most common auto fuel in the world with a big presence in Germany. Meanwhile, Brad Tuttle in Time says at $19,000 the math for the Nissan Leaf may finally be adding up – for consumers at least, if not for Nissan.

Finally, with the hottest year in history recorded for the US in 2012, climate change is not likely to be going away. A new study says black carbon soot may be the #2 cause of warming temperatures, behind carbon dioxide. Both come from coal. Kevin Bullis in MIT Technology Review says the cuts needed in carbon emissions may be ever greater than previously thought. And Naomi Oreskes, writing in the Washington Post, says scientists must speak up on the issue. Nuclear power, anyone?

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