With oil prices dropping dramatically over the past few months, many Americans no longer feel a sense of urgency in dealing with the challenge of our growing oil dependence. Zubrin's book is a reminder of why it could be a costly mistake to put the issue on the back burner. Zubrin, an aerospace engineer, argues correctly that the root of our energy problem lies in a lack of liquid fuel choice: The global transportation sector is 96 percent dominated by petroleum. At the same time, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), despite its control of 78 percent of global reserves and its inclusion of two new members, Angola and Ecuador in 2007, produces today almost as much oil as it did thirty-five years ago just before the 1973 Arab oil embargo.
The oil cartel's growing control over the world's oil and its ability to manipulate supply and prices are a real and dangerous threat to the West. Zubrin's solution: an open fuel standard requiring that every car sold in America be a flex-fuel vehicle capable of running on any combination of gasoline and alcohol (ethanol and methanol.) Such cars can be made by all automakers at a low cost of an extra $100 per new vehicle. With tens of millions of flex-fuel vehicles on the road, free market forces would quickly give rise to an industry of alternative fuels as well as a refueling infrastructure. Fuel choice at the pump would break oil's monopoly in the transportation sector and allow new players to compete against OPEC in a free market environment. Another benefit: Poor developing countries with agricultural bases would be empowered economically as they become producers of biomass-based alcohol fuels.
Energy Victory is one of the best books written on our oil dependence problem. The solutions it offers are economically, technologically, and politically feasible. They should be heeded as an insurance policy against the next energy crisis that is already looming on the horizon.