Environmental Protection Agency insider Oge meticulously recounts the political battles that have cleared the way for more intelligent, fuel-efficient transportation.
The author has a vision for the future of the automobile. It’s not exactly the flying car of the future, but almost, as it comes with smartphone-synced scheduling, zero-emissions technology and the ability to park itself. The highly autonomous vehicles she describes in the opening of her astute, if not always captivating, memoir may seem like a pipe dream, but Oge knows her stuff. She is the former director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality at the EPA, where she worked for more than 30 years. The information she presents is highly detailed and carries the authority of a woman who has fought diligently and consistently for each step forward on the efficiency regulations she sees as a crucial part of our nation’s response to climate change. Readers may expect some degree of drama, as Oge chronicles her battles with climate science deniers, administrative changes of heart, and the automobile and oil industries. Instead, the author offers a more measured account of the meetings, calls, emails and political wrangling behind each improvement her team was able to push through. Her frustration is clear, but this is not an emotional memoir; it’s about policy, and it’s thorough enough to serve as a course in how modern government really works. Anecdotes and asides occasionally add a personal tone to the writing—e.g., when Oge bought a Toyota Prius and was stunned by the difference between its stated miles per gallon (calculated by her own agency) and the much lower on-the-street reality. Soon enough, though, she was back to budget meetings and court hearings—all of them important but without much emotional charge to engage readers.
An exhaustive, occasionally exhausting look at the long and winding road to a smart car future.