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President Obama (above) began his second administration with a renewed call for dealing with climate change. Taking a swipe at climate skeptics, he said the country must renew the quest to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. Environmentalists hailed the renewed emphasis but were still waiting to see more action.

The most obvious test for the Administration will be the decision on whether or not to build the Keystone Pipeline. Canadians are growing more skeptical that approval will be forthcoming and Americans both pro and con are calling for a quick decision. Meanwhile, Gal Luft, writing on Foreign Policy, urged the President to “end the oil monopoly” by allowing fuels such as natural gas to power automobiles.

The Al Qaeda attack on the Algerian gas outpost has claimed 85 dead, three Americans among them. Seven other Americans survived. The attack was apparently an inside job with a former driver at the complex providing information that gave the attackers full knowledge of the complex. Algeria is promising to beef up security but also points out that it was a Canadian citizen who coordinated the operation.

Energy theft is becoming a leading world problem as hackers find it easy to steal electricity from power lines. USAID has promised to help Pakistan deal with the problem and both India has launched a crackdown. Sri Lanka has managed to cut pilfering by imposing heavy fines. In the US, Awesense, a small startup, has invented a sensor that can help utilities locate places where power is being drained illegally. But just to top the utilities’ troubles, OilPrice reports a malicious software attack last October kept a major power plant offline for three weeks.

Finally, Inside Climate News reports that tax credits for the wind industry have become so appealing that non-energy companies such as Sprint, Starbucks and Levi Strauss are looking to invest. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reports that wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro and tidal energy together added nearly half the new capacity in the US last year. Power Engineering says that renewables are still confined to niche markets, however, and a Vermont energy expert has told New Hampshire that wind works best in the Midwest and will get very little benefit to mountainous New England.

One other item that shouldn't escape notice.  Jerome Corsi, writing on WND Money, reports that the US is quietly easing the rules allowing Chinese ownership of oil and gas properties in the US.  The reason?  We're afraid that if we deny ownership, China might stop lending us money.  As they say, you get what you pay for.

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