384 pages, 5 illustrations
Americans take for granted that when we flip a switch the light will go on, when we turn up the thermostat the room will get warm, and when we pull up to the pump gas will be plentiful and relatively cheap. In The End of Energy, Michael Graetz shows us that we have been living an energy delusion for forty years. Until the 1970s, we produced domestically all the oil we needed to run our power plants, heat our homes, and fuel our cars. Since then, we have had to import most of the oil we use, much of it from the Middle East. And we rely on an even dirtier fuel – coal – to produce half of our electricity.
Graetz describes more than forty years of energy policy incompetence and argues that we must make better decisions for our energy future. Despite thousands of pages of energy legislation since the 1970s (passed by a Congress that tended to elevate narrow parochial interests over our national goals), Americans have never been asked to pay a price that reflects the real cost of the energy they consume. Until Americans face the facts about price, our energy incompetence will continue – and along with it the unraveling of our environment, security, and independence.
"The tangled history of energy policy is admirably described in the new book by legal scholar Michael Graetz, The End of Energy [...] As will be clear, I largely agree with Graetz's conclusion [...] Graetz's book is a sobering reminder of the shortcomings of our political system. He shows that the ability of the federal government to respond to long-term challenges is very limited when a good policy will impose short-term costs."
- William D. Nordhaus, The New York Review of Books
"This book is a must read for all people interested in energy policies and our biosphere. This book should be read, studied and comprehended by as many people as possible."
- J. T. Trevors, Environmentalist
" [...] a compelling case for a radical shift in our approach to energy production that Washington policy makers would do well to study closely."
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Michael J. Graetz is Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Columbia Alumni Professor of Tax Law at Columbia University and Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Yale Law School. His other books include Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Fight over Taxing Inherited Wealth.