Mobil's view of the energy scene begins ominously with the Great New York Blackout of 1965 and the Great Arab Oil Crunch of...


ENERGY: The Whole Story

Mobil's view of the energy scene begins ominously with the Great New York Blackout of 1965 and the Great Arab Oil Crunch of 1973: ""Americans won't willingly give up their hard-won standard of living. . . ."" The heart of the energy problem, Mobil argues, is time: we must start planning now, because it takes years, decades, even generations to bring new energy sources on line. But the environmentalists and regulators are denying us that precious commodity and thereby steering us toward disaster. ""Environmental Politics"" (the book's longest single chapter) first sets up and knocks down weak environmentalist crusades (e.g., a $3.5 million search for a living black-footed ferret); then makes the point that--types-of-industry, demographics, and lifestyle considered--Americans are not the great energy-wasters alleged (a separate, later chapter, ""Foreign Exemplars,"" pursues this theme further); and finally maintains that ""'the less pollution, the better' may be an unnecessary goal, even counterproductive""--some pollution may actually be beneficial, we don't know enough about the trade-offs, and so on. There follows a review of current and prospective energy sources--from oil and gas to nuclear fission--with some firm factual-matter and some blatant fudging on the issues. The discussion of Three Mile Island, for example, stresses the insignificant amounts of radiation emitted and the absence of casualties; what the inquiries investigated, however, was how and why such extensive and ""impossible"" failures could have occurred, and how close TMI-2 was to a full-scale meltdown. Correspondingly, Mobil blames the sharply escalating costs of building nuclear reactors on ""protestors' success in delaying the licensing procedure""--and then uses the singularly poor example of the Washington State overrun (from an estimated $6.6 billion cost in 1970 to an estimated $23.9 billion in 1981) caused, as widely publicized, by inept NRC regulators (in collusion with supporters of nuclear development), corrupt unions, and incompetent on-site management. Like Mobil op-ed page ads, the book has been expertly prepared; and since the source is clearly identified, readers will have only themselves to blame if they don't closely examine its contentions and conclusions.

Pub Date: June 30, 1982


Page Count: -

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1982