Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence"


Everybody is talking about “energy independence.” But is it really achievable—or even desirable? In this controversial, meticulously researched book, Robert Bryce exposes the false promises and political posturing behind the rhetoric. Gusher of Lies explains why the idea of energy independence appeals to voters while also showing that renewable sources like wind and solar cannot meet America’s growing energy demand. Along the way, Bryce exposes the ethanol scam as one of the longest-running robberies ever ...

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Everybody is talking about “energy independence.” But is it really achievable—or even desirable? In this controversial, meticulously researched book, Robert Bryce exposes the false promises and political posturing behind the rhetoric. Gusher of Lies explains why the idea of energy independence appeals to voters while also showing that renewable sources like wind and solar cannot meet America’s growing energy demand. Along the way, Bryce exposes the ethanol scam as one of the longest-running robberies ever perpetrated on American taxpayers. In a new foreword to this edition, he shows how energy independence rhetoric was used during the 2008 election, even as the heavily subsidized ethanol business fueled a growing global food crisis.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“It’s exhortative instead of purely informative. It hammers apart the idea that we really want to be independent of oil. Energy interdependence should be the actual goal for our energy system.”
The New York Times
In Gusher of Lies, Mr. Bryce mounts a savage attack on the concept of energy independence. [He] begins coolly, then heats up and eventually approaches core meltdown. . . . Land[ing] one telling blow after another.. Mr. Bryce gets to work demolishing cherished green beliefs about alternative energy sources ... but he is an equal-opportunity smiter.. He [too] goes after the political right. Fortunately, Mr. Bryce suggests that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. In the end, the hard-nosed Mr. Bryce reveals himself as something of a visionary and perhaps even a revolutionary. Power to the people.
New York Post
Bryce does a fantastic job of helping people understand the sheer magnitude of energy flows that would have to be replaced to attain energy independence, and conclusively makes his case that pursuing energy interdependence is a superior objective.
School Library Journal

With oil nearly $100 a barrel, everyone is clamoring for "energy independence" and a reduction in our reliance on foreign oil. Bryce (Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron) debunks this notion, asserting that none of the alterative or renewable energy sources currently hyped-corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, wind and solar power, and coal-to-liquids-will free America from imported fuels. He blasts Republicans, Democrats, the presidential candidates, Al Gore, Robert Redford, environmentalists, and energy analysts for misleading the public about our energy needs. Providing compelling examples, Bryce identifies numerous reasons why the United States cannot wean itself off foreign energy. He posits that we must accept the reality of an increasingly interdependent global energy market and shift our thinking from energy independence to interdependence. Meticulously researched with copious facts-nearly all footnoted-this illuminating and sometimes witty work offers another view of the current state of energy. Recommended for all libraries.
—Eva Lautemann Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Kirkus Reviews
America's energy discussions contain "far too much religion and far too little science," writes the author, who carefully, gleefully throttles the meaningless rhetoric driving the cry for energy independence. Energy Tribune managing editor and Texas Observer contributor Bryce (Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America's Superstate, 2004, etc.) offers mostly convincing arguments that don't require an advanced degree to follow. Our nation is hungry for energy, he notes. Our energy is dominated by oil, no alternative comes close to it in cost and efficiency, and none will for decades to come. We haven't produced enough oil for our needs for half a century; we no longer can, nor ever will again. Bryce starts by systematically debunking grandiose claims made for alternative energy sources. Corn ethanol is his bete noire, a subsidized hoax on the American taxpayer that could never meet more than a fraction of our energy needs. Cellulosic ethanol and coal-to-liquid are both way down the road, he declares; wind and solar, his personal favorites, are fractional producers. In a voice ardent and beseeching, Bryce urges Americans to educate themselves about the world's biggest enterprise, to have at least a modest grasp of thermodynamics, to rationally assess the costs and potential benefits of available resources. That last step includes taking a realistic look at the above alternative fuels, as well as nuclear energy, coal and algae-based biodiesel. A meaningful energy policy requires taking in hand the economic, political and military shenanigans that beset it: cleaning out the pork barrels, engaging rather than bullying the global community, sinking the neocon agenda. For all hisresearch, stark realism and common sense, Bryce can occasionally be crudely nearsighted, as when he dismisses concerns about drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore drilling to supply but a year of Florida's gas needs. High-order muckraking and an excellent primer for addressing the real question: How are we going to handle energy interdependence?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586486907
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 3/2/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 502,680
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Bryce is one of America’s foremost energy journalists. He is currently the managing editor of Energy Tribune and a contributing writer for the Texas Observer. The author of Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron and Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate, he lives in Austin with his wife, Lorin, their three children, and a hyperactive bird dog named Biscuit.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note     ix
Introduction: The Persistent Delusion     1
Why We Think We Want Energy Independence
Imports Are Us     15
The Emotional Appeal of Energy Independence     19
The False Promises of Energy Independence     47
From Dominance to Dependence: American Energy History, Rhetoric, and the New Realities
The Global Energy Power Shift     85
1972: Texas Taps Out     89
1973: The Embargo, Militarism, and Rhetoric     93
September 15, 2004: The Non-OPEC Peak Meets Surging Demand     107
September 27, 2004: The Neocon Crusade Begins     115
The Impossibility of Independence
Skepticism and Thermodynamics     125
The Best Buy Effect     129
More Efficiency, More Fuel     137
The Ethanol Scam     145
Sidebar: The Ethanol Timeline     197
Running Out of (Natural) Gas     199
Nuclear Power: Megawatts from Foreign Uranium     203
The "Opiates of Energy Policy": Coal-to-Liquids and Imported Coal     211
Solar: The 1 Percent Solution     217
Hot Air     223
Sidebar: Thomas Friedman's Maginot Line     231
The World of Interdependence
The View from Jubail     237
The Rise of Dubaiand the "Shift in Gravity"     243
Isolate Iran? Don't Count On It     247
A Few Suggestions     253
Sidebar: What about Fuel Taxes and Carbon Taxes?     259
Conclusion     287
U.S. Imports of Strategic Mineral Commodities, Their Uses, and Key Suppliers     293
The Set America Free Manifesto, Released on September 27, 2004, at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.     299
A Survey of Fuel Sources: A Comparison of Their Land Use Requirements, Water Use, Energy Ratios, and CO[subscript 2] Emissions     302
Notes     305
Bibliography     357
Index     361
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Important facts, distorted views

    Although I found most of Mr. Bryce's facts to be interesting, many of the conclusions he would have the reader believe remain unproven at the end of his book. I will resist the temptation to include my own political views, and simply state that Mr. Bryce's book is not for the uninformed. On one occasion, Mr. Bryce asserts, "Energy Independence is neither desirable, nor doable." While Mr. Bryce is entitled to his opinion, he failed, in my view, to sufficiently prove either point.<BR/><BR/>Never the less, Gusher of Lies is an important book for people to read. But it must be read in such a way as to filter through most of the book's unwarranted assertions. Doing so will allow the reader to absorb the important facts, while allowing the reader to make their own conclusions.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2008

    A nice try

    The author's primary intent was to demonstrate why the US is dependent on foreign oil for its energy. However, the book only presents why the US is dependent on oil in general, and why alternative energy sources 'Solar, Wind, Nuclear, Biofuels' will be unable to effectively supplement our energy needs. The author misses the point when it comes to the USA's position within the global oil market. He fails to acknowledge that the majority of our oil imports come from Canada and Mexico, but instead focuses on the Persian Gulf states 'the current oil boogy-man'. If the author wanted to truly explain why the US and the rest of the world is energy interdependent- and that the notion of the US ever becoming energy independent is truly a 'Gusher of Lies', he should have presented some data on the world oil import-export market, costs of production etc. The term 'Comparative Advantage' is not found in this book. And that is a fundamental flaw. The US imports oil because 'based upon current oil prices' it is cheaper - in terms of both real and opportunity costs- to buy it from a foreign source than to produce it at home. Comparative advantage is the reason the US imports any number of products and oil is no exception. The author makes a good argument for why the US - and the rest of the world- will remain dependent on oil for its energy needs. But he fails to provide any argument as to why the US 'while it is certainly true' is, and will remain to be, globally energy interdependent.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2008

    Tells it like it is!!

    Straight talk about the oil dependency fiasco that Americans are being put through by the rhetoric of government, and so-called experts. Meanwhile the general population of America will be suffering for lack of quality air if we follow the fed recommendations. This book is a real eye opener, copies should go to all of Congress.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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