For years, I have been looking for a good, readable book on the oil problem and its solution — just as I’d been looking for a good book on clean technology. Well, I found the Clean Tech book in August, and now I’ve found the oil book.
It is Freedom from Oil, by Brookings scholar and White House veteran David Sandalow. It is an unqualified success — cleverly told as a series of policy memos from the cabinet of a near-future President, who begins the book by telling his staff:
I plan to deliver an address from the Oval Office one month from today. The topic will be oil dependence.
In the breathless narrative that follows, you learn the stripped-down facts about oil dependency, plus the growing strategic and environmental danger posed by oil dependency — and key solutions like plug-in hybrids and revised CAFE standards (as well as stories of fascinating figures in the oil game). You get a “unique window into the White House at work” from a former assistant secretary of state and senior director on the National Security Council staff.
Sandalow’s President ultimately offers an aggressive plan to free the country from oil dependence, which includes:
- Offering for the federal government to buy 30,000 plug-in hybrids at an $8,000 premium.
- Offering an $8000 consumer tax credit for purchasers of the first million plug-ins, and a $4000 rebate for purchasers of the second million.
- Legislation to retool U.S. auto factories and assume some auto industry health costs.
- Replacing CAFE standards with Fuel Reduction and Energy Efficiency (FREEdom) standards.
- A low-carbon fuel standard.
- A major shift in federal funding from new road construction to mass transit.
- To pay for all this, a 50-cent-a-gallon gas tax phased in over five years, with excess revenues used to lower personal income taxes.
I should note that Sandalow is a friend and former Clinton administration colleague, that I reviewed a couple of chapters of his book prepublication, and that he cites me extensively in his debunking of hydrogen. But you know that I have no compunction about railing against misguided writing (see here and here).
If you are looking for one book to read on the oil problem and its solution, get Freedom from Oil.