Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Renewing America

Renewing America

Gasoline Prices

Author: Toni Johnson

With the Middle East unrest ongoing and the global economy recovering, gasoline prices are rising considerably. But policies to ease U.S. consumer impact take time and policymakers are divided over the course of action.

See more in United States; Oil; Energy Policy

Expanding China-Africa Oil Ties

Authors: Christopher Alessi and Stephanie Hanson

China has increased its economic ties with Africa as it seeks to fulfill its growing energy demands. But China's way of doing business has prompted international criticism, even as its policy of noninterference faces new challenges.

See more in China; Africa (sub-Saharan); Oil

Nuclear Power Safety Concerns

Author: Toni Johnson

Damage to Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has reignited debate over the safety of nuclear power and highlighted questions over aging power plants, safety procedures, and waste disposal.

See more in Japan; Disasters

Global Natural Gas Potential

Author: Toni Johnson

Interest in natural gas is growing for political, environmental, and economic reasons. But the industry faces challenges to adding pipelines, increasing international LNG trade, and exploiting newly found shale gas reserves.

See more in Natural Gas; Global

Renewing America

Renewing America

Oil Market Volatility

Author: Toni Johnson

Though shifts in demand and reduced production by some major producers have influenced oil prices, investor behavior is also increasing market volatility.

See more in Oil; Global

Author: Toni Johnson

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill spotlights the growth of deepwater drilling and the challenges of balancing strong environmental regulation with efforts to expand U.S. domestic oil production.

See more in United States; Oil

Alternative Views on Climate Change

Author: Toni Johnson

Debating global warming policy has moved to the top of agendas worldwide, but some skeptics still question whether action is necessary or possible.

See more in Climate Change

Russia's Energy Disputes

Author: Lionel Beehner

Buoyed by high oil prices, Russia finds itself embroiled in a number of disputes with foreign firms looking to tap its underdeveloped oil fields and with its neighbors that grew used to subsidized gas.

See more in Russian Federation; Oil; Natural Gas

Global Uranium Supply and Demand

Author: Toni Johnson

Interest in nuclear power is increasing, but securing adequate uranium supplies for nuclear fuel faces challenges ranging from a flagging mining sector to fears of nuclear weapons proliferation.

See more in United States; Nuclear Energy

Copenhagen's Many Agendas

Author: Toni Johnson

The UN conference on climate change that begins December 7 in Copenhagen is supposed to produce new targets for emissions reductions, but experts say major countries are at odds on the ultimate goal of a new framework. This backgrounder looks at some of their positions.

See more in Environmental Policy; Climate Change