Thought this book was really interesting and folks here might be interested in it. Basically the author claims that the idea of making America "energy independent" is neither reasonable, possible, nor deisrable, and that the whole concept of it is based on a bunch of myths and falsehoods. Bryce himself is an energy journalist, and in his words "a raging moderate." This it definitely seems, he is definitely not a hardcore Republican as he does much knocking on the "neocons" (who he distinguishes from "Republicans," so he doesn't consider all Republicans neocons) as well as the Democrats. He also quotes from both Left and Right sources, so the book seems pretty non-biased. He also completely firebombs the whole concept of ethanol, which if he is accurate, is an enormous sham. I will try to summarize the points he makes for why America should not and cannot ever be energy independent, but to get the full details you need to read the book: 1) Even if energy independent, the U.S. would still be subject to the global price of oil, because domestic oil producers will sell to countries outside the U.S. if they can get higher prices there than here; oil traders sell to whereever costs the highest, to make the most profit. 2) He says the whole concept of trying to remain independent is silly because now that energy is increasing in cost, the energy industry, in order to keep prcies as low as possible, is becoming very globally integrated. For example, a huge oil discovery was just made in Gulf of Mexico by three oil companies, two U.S. and one from Norway, all working together, as it is no longer practical for companies to search for oil strictly by themselves. Another example is BP (Beyond Pretroleum, formerly British Petroleum) is the largest domestic producer of oil in the U.S. (even though it's a foreign company!). He basically says, should we just tell BP and the Norwegian company to go take a hike and become "independent"? He says that the days in which one company did the searching, drilling, etc...itself doesn't exist anymore. 3) He says the idea that being energy independent of the Middle East will not keep us militarily out of the Middle East because Saudi Arabia is such a crucial supplier of oil to the rest of the world, and will be so for decades to come. He says keeping the Saudi Royal Family in power is very important to keep that oil flowing, as if they were overthrown, it could disrupt the supply. He says economists estimate that if just 4% of world oil shipments are halted for a significant length of time, world crude prices could triple. The thing is that even if independent of the Middle East oil, the United States is not independent of the global economy, and skyrocketing crude prices from a disruption in the flow of Saudi oil could send the global economy reeling, which would of course impact the U.S. economy a lot as well. And of course, with the U.S. remaining under the global price of crude, tripling crude prices would cause a lot of havoc still. He also says that while vulnerable to this economically, the European and East Asian economies are very vulnerable to a disruption in the flow of the Saudi oil, and since the United States is who ensures the safety of the Saudi family, essentially the United States militarily subsidizes the security of Europe and East Asia. 4) He says people make it sound as if oil is the only crucial ingredient the U.S. imports, but he says oil actually is only one substance very crucial to the functioning of the U.S. economy that is imported, and he gives a list of multiple other minerals: The U.S. imports 100% of its bauxite, alumina, manganese, strontium, yttrium, thirteen others. It also imports 99% of its gallium, 91 percent of its platinum, 88 percent of its tin, 81 percent of its palladium, 76 percent of its cobalt, and 72 percent of its chromium. He also says oil makes up only 7 percent of U.S. imports. 5) He points out that America gets most of its oil from Canada and Mexico and not the Middle East, and the Middle East supplies about 11% of U.S. oil needs. 6) He says that the commonly held notion that when you fill up your SUV, you are also providing the money to fund terrorists is not true. He gives a big description on this, talking about each country in the Middle East. He talks about how the finger is often pointed at the Saudis, but he says that the Saudis actually have worked within OPEC to keep the oil prices from growing too high (he explains how this is in their own best interest). He also explains about some good things Saudi Arabia has done. However, he doesn't deny that Saudi Arabia is still a place of fundamentalist and radical Islamists. He says that one can't deny that the Saudis have helped fund terrorists, but he says the notion that the Saudis and the oil money are the root cause of terrorism, and if the U.S. stopped buying their oil, that it would undermine the terrorists, is wrong. He references G.I. Wilson, a former Marine Corps colonel who has written extensively about the subject, who says the conflation of oil and terrorism is a contrivance. He points out that many terrorist groups have functioned for years without oil money, and that they mostly fund themselves through drugs and other illegal things. He gives more details, but too many to list here. 7) He says the notion that energy independence would protect the U.S. from another oil embargo is false, and he explains that the first oil embargo in the 1970s did not really work and did not achieve its objectives, and that it would not at all be desirable these days for the Middle Eastern nations to enact an embargo. He also says any attempt to repeat the 1973 embargo would increase global crude prices, so the pain would be felt by everyone, not just America. 8) He says another argument for energy independence is that if we stop buying the Middle East oil, and cause a collapse in global oil prices, it will crush dictators like Hugo Chavez and Ahmadinejad. He says that it's an interesting theory, but that acollapse in global oil prices could cause effects that would be ba for America long-term. For example, cheaper oil would allow the Chinese and Indian economies to go into hyper-drive and start growing even faster, China especially, as they have an insatiable thirst for oil, and will only be happy to start buying larger amounts of it if prices go down. He says that low prices would be terrible for Iraq, as the current higher prices have allowed Iraq to amass sizeable funds for its rebuilding effort. He also says they have helped offset Iraq's faltering oil production. He says a oil price crash could be disastrous for Mexico and could increase the illegal immigrants coming to America, as the Mexican government gets so many of its revenues from oil (about 37%). He points out that Mexico's state-owned oil company is already in dire financial straits, and a price crash could send it reeling, and with it, the Mexican government, which he says has already been weakened since the 2006 Presidential race there. He says that an oil price crash could end the push to create for fuel-efficient vehicles in America, and the push for renewable energy. He points out that a price collapse would devastate America's domestic oil industry, which would increase oil imports. He says a long period of cheap petroleum could cause instability in key regions of the Middle East because of economic problems, and if any major problems were to occur, the U.S. would have to step in. 9) He says that energy independence will not provide the U.S. with better energy security. An example he gives is that after Hurricane Katrina, the reason gasoline shortages lasted only a short period of time was because of increasing oil imports. If the U.S. had been completely independent, then the gas and oil shortages would have continued for a long while until they repaired the oil refineries that had been damaged. He also gives other examples. 10) He gives a huge chapter on the sham that is ethanol. Some points are that the company that has 60% of the ethanol market (Archer-Danliels-Midland Co. or ADM) is a known price-fixer (they were taken to Court in the 1990s over this). The family of this company has essentially admitted even that they want socialism of the agricultural industry in America. He also names many politicians, Republican and Democrat, who are in the pockets of this company, and industry overall. He points out for example how one Texas Republican tried to kill the ethanol subsidies, but was stopped short by Newt Gingrich. He also points out that Barack Obama actually used the corporate jets of ADM his first two years in office. He also shows how the ethanol industry has perverted the U.S. election system a good deal, because by making Iowa, the largest corn producing state (ethanol is made from corn) so influential in voting for Presidential candidates, all the Presidential candidates have become "pro-ethanol" to garner the Iowa vote. For example, both Senator Hillary Clinton and John McCain were staunch critics of ethanol. But then they did complete 180s and became huge supporters of it when they began running for President. He points out some other neat things though, for example, assume we could fuel all cars and trucks with corn-grown ethanol and stop importing oil. Well what happens if there's a long drought or bad weather that seriously messes up the corn crop? Fuel prices would skyrocket. Furthermore, remember this fuel would be being provided by a company that was dragged into court for price-fixing, controls 60% of the ethanol market alone, and is already supported by subsidies; if there was a corn crop shortage, the American taxpayer might have to bail out these ethanol companies while at teh same time paying higher fuel prices, and of course food prices. And something that occurred to me myself is, usually the same people pushing for ethanol are also the global warmers who claim that global warming will cause massive crop failures (for example Ted Turner said recently that we will become cannibals soon). So their solution, with impending crop failures, is to turn the entire fuel supply over to crops! A crop that when burned will likely increase greenhouse gas emissions, and produces less energy than gasoline does, meaning you need to use more of it to get the same effect. And to supply all of current America with ethanol, we'd need 546 million acres of farmland. This is a problem, considering current U.S. farmland covers 446 million U.S. acres, and then you consider the fact of how our gasoline and diesel use will continue to grow in the future by a large amount. We could always start cutting down lots of trees I suppose to increase the farmland, but this would put the tree-huggers up in arms, so...point is, ethanol is a complete sham. It will not make America energy independent, is a lousy fuel source, it is a risky fuel source even if we could power all cars/trucks with it, and it is bad for the environment. And then there's all the water it would need; the West is already strapped for water. The ultimate question is: Do we use America's farmland to grow food or fuel? It cannot be both right now. And if we do go the ethanol way, we will end up just producing a useless fuel that will not make us less dependent on foreign oil (which as said isn't desirable anyhow), and at the same time, possibly making us dependent on other nations for food. It would be a real irony for one of the world's largest food producers to become one that has to import a lot of food. Ethanol also is what is increasing food prices; he points out how it has increased prices on multiple foods such as cheese, ice cream, eggs, poultry, pork, cereal, sugar, and beef. And finally, he says American taxpayers are taxed three different ways to pay for corn ethanol: 1) Billions in subsidies for growing corn 2) Billions in subsidies for turning that corn into ethanol 3) Billions of dollars in costs resulting from higher food prices One group of scientists also wrote a report claiming that corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, and ethanol from wood biomass, and soybeans, are all net losers in the energy, they all have a net loss. 11) Going back to the massive need for water already, he says oil and refined fuel imports could actually be good in this sense, in that it will decrease the need for water for domestic fuels; the U.S. has little oil, but a large ability to grow food and lots of water; the Middle East has little freshwater, and thus little ability to grow food, but lots of petroleum; this thus creates mutual trade between the U.S. and these countries, where both countries benefit. 12) He points out that despite being the Saudi Arabia of coal, America actually imports a good chunk of its coal and in the coming years is likely to become a net coal importer. He says one reason is because the federal regulations require low sulfur-dioxide coal and many companies just find it more profitable to import coal. 14) He points out that the concept of America using nuclear power to be energy independent makes no sense, because America imports all its uranium. America does have uranium of its own, but this industry was pretty much ruined and likely will never reach its previous levels; also, America doesn't have the uranium reserves other countries do. 15) He points out that America already imports electricity, getting certain electricity from both Mexico and from Canada. 16) He criticized New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, because Friedman has talked very much about the world economy becoming so globalized and interconnected, but then he also is a staunch advocate for energy independece. Bruce says this is a totally contradictory viewpoint, because the energy business is the largest in the world and is very globalized and interconnected and becoming moreso every day. He says it is impossible to embrace the global economy but try to become completely independent of other countries for energy needs because everything is interconnected now. 17) He says the U.S. cannot isolate Iran. The U.S. is currently the largest consumer of oil, yet it does not buy any oil from Iran. This does not stop Iran from selling every bit of oil it produces. Furthermore, it doesn't stop multiple other countries, many that are U.S. allies, from buying oil from Iran and doing business with them, either. Even Halliburton did business with Iran for years, albeit that has now stopped. Point is that despite trying to isolate Iran, companies and countries will find ways to work around trade sanctions imposed on Iran. 18) The U.S. is losing its ability to be the main influencer of global oil usage because of China and India and other nations. If the U.S. stops buying oil from foreign countries, they will just sell it to someone else. So it wouldn't make sense to be enegy independent to try and "stave" the oil producers who are thugs. I didn't agree 100% with everything he said in the book, but I think he makes many very valid points and that people should definitely read the book.