Is Energy Independence a Pipe Dream?

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A mixture of yeast ferments in the lab at Amyris Biotechnologies. Alex Cohen, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Alex Cohen, NPR

With oil prices heading for $130 a barrel, phrases like "alternative fuels" are popping up more. But breaking our dependence on oil isn't a simple matter since the most promising alternatives are still in the early stages.

Alex Chadwick talks with energy writer Robert Bryce, who says energy independence is a pipe dream. Then, Alex Cohen visits a Silicon Valley alternative energy start-up. Its founders say they'll be able to offer a sugarcane-based substitute for gasoline at half the current price of oil. And finally, Madeleine Brand talks with energy expert Gary Was at the University of Michigan about the prospects for alternative fuels.



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