Romney embraces greater reliance on fossil fuels — the greatest contributors to climate change. Obama sees a future increasingly tied to renewable energy.
By Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau
September 28, 2012, 4:23 p.m.
WASHINGTON — No matter who wins the 2012 election, the next president will take office as the United States faces vast new opportunities in energy production and profound challenges to environmental protection.
After decades of growing dependence on imported oil, the U.S. is moving to energy self-sufficiency, thanks to greater domestic supplies of oil and natural gas and reduced demand. Coal, which once fired most American power plants, is being edged out by natural gas, renewable energy and stricter efforts to cut pollution — a trend that has touched off bitter political fights.
At the same time, climate change has gone from distant threat to palpable reality, as ice caps shrink, winters shorten and drought spreads. Climatologists and policymakers warn that unless the United States and other industrialized nations move to rein in emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 2020, most aspects of life — from the food chain to the oceans to communicable disease — could be altered, largely for the worse.
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