On a windy August day outside of Fort Collins, three Colorado State University students crouch in a field, harvesting a crop by hand. The plants in the field, which are browning slower than usual during a wet, cool summer, are a light tan color and about knee high.
The crop is called camelina, and the researchers believe these plants, which produce tiny, oil-filled seeds, could provide farmers with the ability to grow their own fuel on the farm.
Drivers will find this summer's gas prices are lower than last year's, the result of a spike in crude oil production. Government forecasters say a gallon of regular gasoline will cost about $3.50 this summer — a slide of more than 10 cents from last year.
Auto executives got a grilling on Capitol Hill yesterday. Not the usual suspects from Detroit's Big Three. Think much, much smaller. Executives from the hybrid carmaker Fisker testified about hundreds of millions of dollars in loans Fisker got from the government. Today, the company is on the verge of collapse.
NPR's Sonari Glinton reports.
SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Fisker, the car company, isn't dead yet. But Congress has already begun the autopsy.
The new boom in natural gas from shale has changed the energy economy of the United States. But there's another giant reservoir of natural gas that lies under the ocean floor that, theoretically, could dwarf the shale boom.
No one had tapped this gas from the seabed until this week, when Japanese engineers pulled some up through a well from under the Pacific. The gas at issue here is called methane hydrate. Methane is natural gas; hydrate means there's water in it. In this case, the molecules of gas are trapped inside a sort of cage of water molecules.
With President Obama nominating Ernest Moniz to be the nation's next energy secretary, he continued a relatively recent trend of putting scientists atop a part of the federal bureaucracy once overseen by political types.
If confirmed by the Senate, Moniz, an MIT physicist, will follow Nobel laureate Steven Chu, a University of California physicist who served as Obama's first-term energy secretary.