[Union-Tribune] Energy has been fueling a lot of conversation lately and none of it on a particularly positive note. Oil is hovering above $60 a barrel. Energy costs are expected to accelerate 24 percent this year over last, which means we’ll be spending almost 9 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product on energy – the highest rate since 1985. Want some good news? In laboratories around the world, smart people are tapping unlikely sources to develop alternatives that may one day leave fossil fuels buried in the dirt.