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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  October 16, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT

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whether or not that is connected to the insanity on some molecular level, i don't know. but for the "new york times" describe him as a christian fundamentalist was an outrageous slander, something we've come to expect from the "new york times." >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> when i got into public and finally started selling my books, every person i worked with i had a rejection letter from which is kind of cool so you go to a meeting and i love your stuff and i'm like what about this? >> in his nonfiction he questions the ethics, morality of brilliant people. his account of mark zuckerberg and the of facebook, and social network and mit students who won millions in las vegas and a nasa candidate steals a safe with moon rocks. call, email or tweet ben mezrich
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on booktv on c-span2. .. with the associated press energy writer, dina cappiello. >> host: welcome, mr. yergin, to "after words" and thanks for doing this. first of all, let me congratulate you on what is quite an achievement, this book of yours, "the quest."
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the first thing i wanted to ask you is what prompted this book. obviously you had your pulitzer prize-winning book, "the prize," about the history of oil. so why is this, why now, especially when one of your primary conclusions is that for a while things aren't really going to change much when it comes to energy. >> guest: i think there is a couple of reasons. one come is while the trends aren't going to change a lot has changed in the world. the soviet union collapsed, china was hardly toward the prize. the only country that gets two chapters in the book right up to what happened this year with the fukushima nuclear accident and the arabs bring. so much happened and the other thing is what i wanted to do it this is more ambitious in the price that's what i thought when i was writing it because this tries to cover the whole energy
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spectrum and see how the pieces fit together. so, there was a big topic to take on the use bit him off more than you have expected. >> it's interesting that you say sit together because after reading 700 plus pages i'm not going to come the footnotes. >> guest: thank you. [laughter] it makes the book shorter. >> host: it's hard to see how they fit together, right? if we continue to find oil through unconditional sources which has greatly expanded our proven reserves at least then what is going to prompt us to go the renewables route which as we know you don't get much bank for your buck in terms of the energy produced and have some logistical hurdles to say the
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least, so how do you see these fitting together? >> guest: it's really the evolution. technology -- about how technology has evolved, where do they come from, how do they get started? and so you go back to when there is great excitement about renewables in the 1970's and 1980's. you look back and realize their immature technologies. wind today is a more sophisticated technology, so they continue to develop. and by the wind, solar, the whole name of the game is to bring the costs down to be competitive. meanwhile what we are certainly seeing is a technological innovation also happening in the energy area, and a picture of energy in the u.s. is different than even when i started this book. >> host: you started this book use it in 2005? >> guest: to thousand 5-2006. it was the unconventional gas revolution, only first on the scene in 2008. not until 2011 what people have woken up to this other thing
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that's happening with what is called tight oil and the production going up rather than going down. u.s. oil imports going down instead of going up, which is what we have done for so many years. >> host: autun you state the idea of the petrostate and of venezuela and the whites of hugo chavez and his nationalization of the oil industry and the mengin chavez and fidel castro in cuba, and i got me thinking because there is a lot of controversy right now about plans to drill offshore especially after the gulf oil spill that we had last year. >> guest: it's a very interesting change -- >> host: to explain my logic here, how does cuba get into the offshore oil game, how does that affect the stability if at all
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and is there a reason for us to be as concerned as we are post this event? >> guest: it's very close to florida and some of the waters in the cuban waters would be very close to florida, and so certainly concern about just basically environmental safety and security and how it would be managed in cuba. of course for decades it was thought that cuba might have the resources going back to the late 1950's actually, but now oil has been very key to the relationship between venezuela and cuba because venezuela has sort of stepped in and play a role the soviet union used to play in terms of propping up the cuban economy but i think my expectation would be that at such point as companies start trending those waters we would see the concern and the united states about it and inside the
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politics which are complicated enough that about environmental security. >> host: on page 109 this struck me get through the conversation of ours is going to relate what you wrote to the events happening today which is what i do for a living. so, you state oil can generate a great deal of revenue that is a capital-intensive industry. this means increased its relatively few jobs at a further depression on government to spend on projects and welfare and entitlement. in this country, as you know, the moratorium on the gulf oil spill was a job killer and opened more public resources to drilling is being touted by certain people in politics as a job creator. so when i read that sentence, i question is it --
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>> guest: i was thinking in the country where the big population doesn't have a lot of other skills and industries and therefore there aren't that many jobs it can be large oil producer in the middle east and a lot of people don't have jobs. what's interesting it's become clear people have looked at it more carefully is the jobs themselves and the jobs of the industries that support them and then there's the jobs that are called deduced jobs which people have more income. when you look at that in terms of what is opening in the domestic oil and gas development it turns out that there are a lot of secondary jobs that are created that people wouldn't think there are jobs being created for the offshore gulf industry in ohio or california. and so i think that it kind of depends on the country and the scale and the kind of whether you have all of these other industries to support it. for some countries it is a huge
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problem but it turns out what we are learning now in the united states with the developments there are a lot of jobs, secondary jobs that follow from it. >> host: what about the concept of jobs from the renewable energy industry which is the buzz term these days, greenup jobs and there's been a lot of discussion about that recently about whether, you know, the obama administration has been successful about creating the good jobs. do you see a renewable energy, wind, solar, biofuel as a great job creators? >> guest: they create jobs, too. the question is the scale of them. if you take ethanol, a few live in an urban area and so forth, then of course ethanol is also very important to the economy of the rural areas and has kind of had a transformative affect on some of that. i think what we see and there's a lot of expectation for the
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jobs it is just the scale of the bigger businesses and then there's the other question of course where are the elements that go into the green economy going to be manufactured? >> host: and on the green at job of versus the fossil fuel job is one bigger the and the other? the scale of the oil and gas industry larger? >> guest: i think it is larger so if you look good the numbers you will see the last few years more jobs created from the oil and gas than the green jobs but they are going to grow. the story that i tell is how the industries have started to reach the scale in the last year about $120 billion invested world wide in the electric generation, renewable electric generation and that is a big number so it does start to create more and more jobs. but it just takes time because the whole energy system is so large a hidden. >> host: you mentioned ethanol and i noticed toward the end of the book so i am jumping there
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because you mentioned that i found that part of the book really interesting. you seem to be a leader in biofuel. is that accurate? or of leased to be enthusiastic. >> guest: i was fascinated. so many of these things, biofuels like at the mall or the electric car you have to go back a century and find that we are picking up the story that is sort of ended in about 1910 or 1920 or there's a big move for ethanol in the great depression because farmers were so -- having such difficult times and then we had the gas in the 1970's. it is a picture in the book of ase u.s. senator pulling vodka into a tractor engine to demonstrate the potential of biofuels. i think that ethanol we're seeing a limit to the united states. it's about 6% on an energy basis of our motor fuel, and larger in terms of volume. but you sort of say what's out there on the horizon, potential
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game changers and one of them is what is called a second generation biofuel where you are making biofuel not from food stuff but agricultural waste and other things or algae and things like that and that was really kind of hot three or four or five years ago. it doesn't really get as much attention but those are continued and a few say where they come from one could be the intensification of effort from the second generation biofuels. and one of the things i think -- >> host: explains what -- >> guest: right. and what you say, you know, you see biologists now as part of the energy business, and ten years ago biology wasn't upset with part of the energy business and the great buckling of the innovation. >> host: the other thing i found no interesting about ethanol -- correct me if i'm
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wrong or misleading as we talk about the book -- but it seems to be a success, right? it seems to be a foothold because the government policy that has made it successful. i found that really interesting because there's a manipulation of the market going on to make ethanol a bigger share of what we feel our cars with that was accepted whereas the scene today in washington to be not just have the market to do with the market wants to do and what's not tinker so how is it that it is okay to tinker when it comes to ethanol and we are encouraged not to when it comes to things like solar and wind? >> guest: i think there's still a lot going on. if you are in the state of california, to use your phrase, you said 33% of your electricity by 2020 has to be from renewable somewhat call that a pretty big tinker. we do a lot in this country by mandates, requirement, such and
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such percentage of fuel has to be biofuel. such and such percentage of electricity has to be renewable, and kind of that is the way that if you just look at it and say kind of what is giving a boost to it and help these industries like we and get to scale it is these mandates because most of the renewable is wind because it is no longer an alternative is a form of conventional energy. >> host: ethanol i didn't see a lot in the discussion on the environmental questions and we will come back to that in the conversation i sure because as you know, the national academy of sciences did a report called the hit in cost of energy and one of the conclusions it made is a life cycle of e 85 in ethanol that is more damaging environmental lead and st. up gasoline in your car. how do we -- >> guest: i didn't go into
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depth on that. i think i kind of discussed that but also on the beat if it takes more energy to make ethanol than you get out of it and what in perch are you using and a very fierce arguments about that. i think that we are seeing -- i think we would have to go back five years ago to the kind of consensus support on ethanol was stronger than it used today, but it is now part of our motor fuel. >> host: and in the state of new york i think that was kind of one of the environmental things that pushed us to ethanol. >> guest: one of the great triggers for it, but in terms of the volume, you know, biofuel today in the united states is about a million barrels per day. that's kind of like, you know, a small to medium size in the country would be happy to have that kind of volume could to
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beat in the book the former governor of iowa, now the secretary of energy, secretary of agriculture, he, like others, have talked about a ethanol as a way of the world development and so i think to some parts of the country those issues loom large. >> host: energy is always regional. >> guest: we get the question why we have big national energy politics because it is regional and the interests are different we are a big country. it's not a simple thing to have the policy for a country our size. >> host: not all of these post-it notes are just in the thoughts i thought of when i was reading it but in the chapter that you titled aggregate disruption, you talk about a confluence of world events that have a huge impact on energy strictly the price of oil and the unrest in the niger delta
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crew and the political overtaking of the oil industry, hurricane country -- or can katrina and rita. yet we have republican presidential candidates, at least one, vowing to come to office and make the price $2 of merrill and others say president barack obama's intent as president is to call the huge increase on the price of gasoline. is this realistic given the global oil market that is so well described in this book? how much can a u.s. president versus the country do with the gasoline price? >> guest: president after president has discussed that they have less control over the energy markets. we go back to richard nixon promising the project independence and have a photograph of him giving that speech in the book. jimmy carter, who came in and was going to make energy is cornerstone and then it was part of what destroyed his
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presidency. you go president after president there aren't that many letters to pull. what has happened is that in a way our influence over energy as a country has lessened because we used to be the name of the game and its energy consumer china now consumes more than the united states and we talk about the chapter on the aggregate disruption, and then i have one a try to answer the question you pointed to. how do we go -- in 2004, which was $20 a barrel and might collapse. three years later, four years later its $147.27. how did that happen? and one of the factors was the growth of demand sort of unexpectedly in the emerging markets, and it kind of just burst on the scene in 2004, 2005, and kind of woke up and it was hard for americans to realize what they were paying at the pump is what happened in the provinces in china whose names
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they didn't know because of energy demand and so i think it is kind of the scope of the market and the center of gravity mcgeehin has been shifting the changes in the global economy. we used twice as much oil as china but in 20 years they can be even with us. >> host: right. the bottom line is there is little control. >> guest: interesting things are happening. oil imports are going down. we are going to have a lot more efficient automobiles to talk about another mandate that will have a big impact on the market to go from 30 miles per gallon carton 54 mpg cars by 2025 which in the field of an automobile company is not very far away. that -- those kind of things of a big impact. you can sort of see the automobile makers are trying to figure out how we actually do this and we've noticed spare tires are starting to disappear from their cars they want to bring down the rate to meet the
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fuel the efficiency standards. >> host: you mentioned fuel efficiency and it is a great entry point to my next question. you talk about president george w. bush in the state of the union endorsed the efficiency increase and decrease the demand for oil. what he says the iranian president mahmoud ahmadinejad and hugo chavez out of the office, so bush fought i'm going to reduce our demand because less reliance but what is interesting about that is that nowadays it's the same party, the republican party, drumming of the supply side. drilled more at home let's open up anwr. >> guest: bush was saying that, too. basically there are two characters. one supply and one is demand in the those add up in terms of the outcome. it's interesting because bush made that comment not in a state
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of the union address as he said privately that it tells you there's a geopolitical context to all of this to reduce particularly during that time in the tight oil market to reduce the influence of these characters among others on not only the oil market but on the world affairs. >> host: can we to all our way out of energy independence? is it even possible because i think that the math for the lead people out there that in view of these debates that the premier energy experts that cover energy day in and day out, is that a total dream when we heard politicians say energy independence, and how much if we could just say okay the gloves are off let's go. >> guest: we could run a sequence of president after president after president say
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energy independence and i think the reality is we are part of the global economy. we trade a lot of things back-and-forth and so the real question is sort of vulnerability energy security in that it's not a question we have to be 100% independent. and i asked one senator about that and actually energy independence really means energy security but energy security has come back and is a very appealing term. i think we need to be in a position where our economy is less vulnerable to disruptions and shock of one kind or another and american people can count and reasonably priced show of energy. so, the answers i think our found on both sides of the equation. we become more efficient. by the way we are twice as energy efficient as we were in the 1970's. it's been a huge contribution. just imagine if that hadn't happened if the trouble at the
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same time what is interesting now is people felt the u.s. finished and found out they haven't as a producer. >> to the drilling question i've been dying to ask this as i write this book republicans on the one hand on the hill and congress today and on the campaign save drill invoking sarah palin in 2008, and trilby be drilled. the democratic response has been a concept called use it or lose at, that oil companies in the country have to sell a lot of acres and are just kind of sitting on them to read you do such a wonderful job in this book saying you can politick all day long but what it comes down to is the technology to get the oil you want to get. so with use it or lose its --
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>> guest: i don't understand the use it or lose it concept actually because companies don't have an incentive to just sit on the resources. it takes time because on the other hand you don't want them rushing to the gulf having dhaka the free ra and crush every tee so there's a long lead times in the energy business that he might be getting a project today and you will see that producing some you have to make the capitol in your allocation of the capitol what happens to the price and everything like that. so, you know, i think that there's definitely a middle ground here to have a reasonable approach to continue to develop resources that are important to our economy and also the jobs and all the other things we are talking about and kind of debate on a reasonable basis. but right now we are in the middle of a political system, so the situation in the campaign
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and all the discussions about energy like everything else you tend to be more polarized. >> host: there's a lot of great characters in this book and john rockefeller skilled away and t. boone pickens is mentioned. and the one in china i will murder his name -- what is it about oil and natural gas in this arena that attracts these larger-than-life personalities? >> guest: it's also true the chapter has great characteristics -- >> host: throughout the book -- >> guest: or solar. the first company -- one of the meese still around. spiking it with coca-cola. i mean, these guys who know nothing about business say let's
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go to the solar business and put up satellites. one of the reasons i love doing this book is where does seĆ³ul work come from and where does wind come from. where did the revolutionary national gas come from and i think the energy business does have a lot of people who are very strong-willed who can take a lot of disappointment and or maybe somewhat obsessive sticking with things even when it looks like people are saying you are crazy why are you doing that? so i love finding these characters who carried the story along in a novelistic way but are important impact in what happens. >> host: you also pull up some interesting facts like the effective prohibition on ethanol and these alcohol based fuels or the robbery of solar panels of the pipeline to feed the hydroponic marijuana growers in
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california. just really interesting tidbits that surprise and energy writer like myself. >> guest: energy tends to be seen as a kind of abstract question that's out there and people just experience it at the pump and so forth and i want to show it is a sort of world of people doing things and the manufacturers back in the 80's are puzzled why were people stealing these things because they wanted to be able to control electricity without the utility because the police could determine if there was a surge of electricity if someone was in the marijuana business. >> host: now, in the book -- >> guest: by the way let me also say that one of my favorite characters in the book named harry smith, who is a man who was a professor at cal tech and walked out and couldn't breathe the air in los angeles because it was so dirty and he gave up what was his favorite subject
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which was trying to understand why pineapples were sweet to work in the question where did this long to come from but i suddenly realize this theme that runs to the book the man they identified the ingredients in marijuana. >> host: really. the other irony was the guy and i'm going to forget his name is probably my post-it note, but the new guy that wrote one of the first peepers was the same that fought of the oil and those same kind of in congruent. you'd think that the guy that was like we are going to run out -- >> guest: he is a figure whose shadow continues farby on him to the present day. >> host: i thought of as interesting because it begs the question for me as a reader one of the things that comes up in the peak oil discussion is that he failed in his projection to incorporate technology, yet she wrote a paper about the factory
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which today has opened up a new world for the natural gas. >> guest: that's right and when he was writing his paper probably five or six years after the first wells had been cracked and it was just -- he is right about technology but there is a seen people come to the view that technology is over, and that we have gone as far as what we know and you just look at the world we live in and say that's not true. technology will continue to happen. there is a character in the book who is a french scientist who in 1824 wrote to a paper about a steam engine explaining it and he's also a soldier his father had been the minister and he was convinced as a geopolitical thing that the british had invested the french and the napoleonic war because they were masters of the technology and he talked about the great revolution that had a kind of captured the world that for the
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first time it was a human labor or animal labor, it was technological ingenuity capturing and he called this a great revolution and i think that in a way this book is a kind of story of the great revolution that's unfolded over the two and a half centuries and i'm absolutely convinced, you know, just the bold we live in a lot of scientists and engineers and entrepreneurs it is going to continue. >> host: that is on to my next question, which there are at times in the look you seem to oscillate between on the one hand government policy mandates subsidies are needed to kind of get the switch going and get away from fossil fuels which are 80% depended on somewhere around there and then at other points in the book to talk about the oil sands and also the california blackout and the regulation debacle. you suggest that government
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intervention mess up and was to blame in part for the oil sands not being developed as they should have or in the case of california they just were not agreed at tweaking the market and they made some mistakes there. so i guess where do you come out at the end of the day? do we need government policies to make this transition? and if not what is going to drive it? well they become high prices because of the cost to get to where the only way is and the energy of the alternative energy going to be car van is equipped to the environmental control? i guess i am not seeing the bridge in terms of -- >> guest: i think you have to look at the 50 states that have requirements about using the technology in the generation that is the force of law. these are -- governor jerry brown who 1970's helped
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kickstart the original wind business is now assigned this legislation earlier in 2011 and it has a force of law. i think that energy is so fundamental that it's tied up in government policies legislation, regulation when you look at the united states there's the kind of wild category and the regulated activity if you want to drill a well it is highly regulated. i think california, which people in california remember the california energy price to the crisis a decade ago when the state was in deep trouble it was just a fundamental mistake in the deregulation that the deregulated have the market and not the other half and they assumed california would always be in a recession and they didn't figure out me california will have an economic boom and
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run up against wall and that is what happened. >> host: what do you say to people that are like we should just step aside policymakers, politicians, let them sort it out based on market dynamics and not mess with the market? we don't have a federal rpf. >> host: we have 54 miles per gallon is a very powerful piece of energy regulation. so you go down the list and lots of things are happening, and kind of will continue to happen and untold coming and you have the california air resources board which most have been heard of it is the closest thing we have to a global regulator in the automobile industry. >> host: right. >> guest: and they also because of the market say this is going to happen in california. well, you can't build one in california and another for nevada so it has the impact and
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dignified automobile manufacturers all over the world paying attention to it so there are a lot of things happening that actually people don't see that are certainly part of this fabric of government and market and as always there is no final fixed frontier to whereas here there is an ongoing interaction. >> host: let me ask that another way. you see we have come a long way since you started writing this book in 2005. where we are, would we be where we are today without the government intervention in energy? >> guest: if we hadn't had a fuel efficiency standards i think we would have a very different picture to give, but its government intervention. all electricity is not a question, i tell the story of sanibel, who was a sort of -- i mean, he was like the greatest businessman of the 1920's and people fell on his words and he said the one he wanted to do is
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preserve his name and he also presided over the most famous bankruptcy and great depression and came this close to going to jail and died in the paris metro with a few cents in his pocket you go back really the beginning of the 20th century when we start to rating because you have to have 20 or 30 or 40 different companies serving one city so now wholley electric power system for instance with a regulatory burden that is just the way the system works, so it has gone up with it. >> host: in your chapter on conventional resources you delve into the deepwater horizon incident and the mistakes that led to the market's offshore oil spill in the industry. you talk about the missteps. how do you explain why these missteps occurred and why there were as you say no established methods for stopping the flow of
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oil and then also i was wondering are you surprised that this congress to date hasn't passed any legislation to reflecting the lessons we've learned in the deepwater horizon are you surprised? >> guest: i think a lot has happened. we have had the reorganization of the offshore oil industry. that is a big deal. you have had the much deeper understanding and coordination of it. i mean, it was an accident that is kind of thinking the unthinkable that it couldn't happen because, you know, we know how to do it. well it did happen and as a result of that there are a lot of consequences we have a new regulatory regime -- >> host: there's going to be change with the new administration. >> guest: the emphasis on safety are about timing does the agency have enough people and does the agency need more funding in there are all those
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questions are rounded but nobody's going to back away from safety and have this tragedy happen again. and you also have the establishment of to a consortium that actually it should never happen again but should it happen again have the know-how to quickly staunch and accident like that so that it doesn't turn into the kind of accident that just went on and on with the oil pouring out. >> host: there was an accident referenced in '85 summer also the world in the flow of oil and try to kill the well. triet >> guest: you can see they had to kind of invented the technology along the way to deal with it. now that capacity is there and the safety we have is that never has to be used again but you need it in place and need the resources committed so that if
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something does happen you can do it because it would be unacceptable otherwise. >> host: you talk about the reorganization that is under way in the services as you know it was renamed after the incident to the management and enforcement. now that has been further split to the leasing and the environmental and safety part in the book it seems to me and maybe i am misreading this but that to sort of downplay the coziness that exists between the regulator would receive the officials have to carry their own lunches and a couple hundred miles out to inspect the platforms and are prohibited to do anything once they are even with cold water on a hot day. does oversimplify the problems of encounters we give people in charge of doing business with these companies, doing drugs
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with them and party in. >> guest: . >> host: there's one in lake charles and the other i believe in port arthur in new orleans the chief i believe was fired for going to sporting events. >> guest: i know about the one in denver it's not the offshore industry. there was -- >> host: >> guest: what could be described as a deep coziness. but i think that, you know, who are your inspectors going to become a people that live in south louisiana in the coastal area, they may go to the same churches on sunday morning as the people who are also working on the platforms. but that doesn't mean that they are not going to be rigorous and tough enforcers. we have now seen a couple of reports that have come out trying to understand exactly what happened. we had the presidential
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commission, the federal agency has come out with one and i think that they are very important lessons to be strong and clearly a part of the reorganization was to try to kind of separate the different functions because the mineral management service said the jobless growth promoting the offshore development and the response of the of managing its safety and i think the other countries have learned such as britain that it had a bad offshore accident which you have to separate the two functions. on fell water -- on the water the purpose of that was to show how much things have gone 180 degrees that you could have a bottle of water. >> host: it seems like there is a little tongue in cheek. >> guest: trying to capture how it has changed the accident was a momentous accident. people's lives were lost. it affected the livelihood of so many people and covered so much of the ocean.
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i think that we are still -- you don't just go from one way of doing things to another overnight. we are still in a transition of finding out the way to properly regulate it and with the preeminent objection of safety. >> host: you mentioned when you go into nuclear energy one of my obsessions, you mentioned -- >> guest: tell me about your session. >> host: you mention government regulators in the wake up to the island there was an investigation just like with the gulf oil spill and the presidential appointed panel -- it's interesting he's one of the great characters in the book and people actually know where he is in the figure and people of the younger generation found they've never heard of and not only the father of the nuclear navy but only 62 years' active duty which is incredible but was the father of nuclear power.
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it's drove the other of merrill's crazy and called him the greatest engineer of all times. post to you put jimmy carter on the spot, right? in an interview of some sort. >> guest: so rigorous to get into the navy that they would interview the people and you'd have to shorten of the chair legs so people feel uncomfortable and have blinds with some cover your eyes and so he's interviewing young james earl carter in the nuclear navy and carter said 57 to my class at an analyst and he says one of the best why did you do better than that because he was sort of bragging about and then became the title of carter's can paleography. if.
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after the three mile island accident which is a nuclear accident in pennsylvania carter appointed to include in the book the letter that he wrote to carter after the accident and was struck by it and apply it to the many accidents. >> host: i wrote in the margin in that section i said this is like you have cut and pasted it with the leal commission found or the joint investigation with the coast guard and the offshore. >> guest: you have a series of cascading mistakes if one of them haven't haven't you wouldn't have had the disaster and other circumstances you have seven out of ten of them and nothing happened but they all come together. when i read that book i had the same reaction you did. >> host: he was the call to lead the investigation in three mile island he warned against
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the cops and robbers some drum against government regulators and the nuclear industry and he also says government regulators and cannot adequately do the job and that is how it was created. geslin now we have to define impo. >> host: impo is basically a body self regulation. >> guest: to have tight government regulation and then the industry they go out and critique each other and they are tough on each other. there is the recognition that if one of them makes mistakes everybody is vulnerable and so they are very tough on each other. >> host: when i think of how it works and i imagine it in my mind the same concept you are playing a game and one of the blaze does his job for the team clean up your act and it's like they are working together to set
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standards. but my question is the oil spill commission that the president said in the week of the deepwater horizon disaster called for the entity for oil and gas drilling. the think that is needed, the regulators, how can you conclude that government regulators were insufficient for nuclear and not that government regulators were insufficient on offshore and something else? >> guest: this is still evolving. there are similarities there are also big differences because first of all this basically the nuclear companies they don't compete with each other. so, once you start having people regulating each other, strangely enough you raise antitrust questions that have to be -- which have to be managed and how does that work. and also, you know, in a sense it is simpler because you don't have that many nuclear operators you have a lot more so certainly
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there will be industrywide associations that are going to kind of both monitoring and also pushed the technology and so forth. but i think it's hard for an industry like the oil and gas industry to have that kind of self regulation again partly just because antitrust immediately becomes an issue. >> host: you see in the book on page 524 more than any other president before him, barack obama invested his administration and remaking the energy system and driving it toward a renewable energy foundation. you say, quote comegys raised the stakes on renewable energy to the level of the national debt. that destiny is looking gloomy with the recent bankruptcy of the energy company that was in the 500 million a loan guarantee in the department of energy and today "the new york times" front page there was a section that had an article about a geothermal plant that had a federal backing in nevada that had been in financial trouble. after the failure of the
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cap-and-trade legislation in congress, and now it looks like renewable energy subsidies are kind of questionable in some parts of the political sphere if you were advising president barack obama would you tell them to fold the bet on renewables or double down? >> guest: i think that he has made a big commitment to it and believes very strongly the administration's why don't think that he's going to fold. i don't think there's a wherewithal to double down on this point where the whole focus is on the federal as i say consolidating, bringing down the federal deficit and expanding to talk about the stimulus and the green stimulus the task force energy r&d in the department of energy one of the things i was struck by, and i think it's still there and talk about it in the book is the volatility of spending and not talking of the big loan guarantees and things like that but it's been a basic function of the federal
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government to support the basic r&d and young scientists, young engineers and that's why we have the internet. the internet didn't come out of the garage. some things to come out of people's gracia but that wasn't one that came out of the department of defense after the cuban missile crisis concerned about how do you communicate with your basis. i think what i do believe given the complexity and importance of what we need this kind of consistent a reasonable level of r&d spending some people who can make careers it's not a question of picking winners and losers but it's supporting the creative people who are going to win the innovation and the changes that we are going to need for the growing world economy, which is kind of one of the basic underlying themes that ties the whole book together. >> host: i guess how do you get that consistency? it seems like you mentioned carter and carter was gung-ho
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for it and then ronald reagan came in and he was like i'm cutting all of these subsidies and it seems when you talk about leader in the book in the renewables section about japan and how amazing japan has been with solar and then china, the huge manufacturer of solar, it seems that japan basically koza we are going to stick with this we are not going to give up. >> guest: that gets back to the question on the crisis because of the 70's it was the prices are going to go but instead they went like that and once that happens the sense of urgency just disappeared. it's interesting ronald reagan appears in the different places his acting career when he started -- >> host: i never knew that. he's with like ge, ret? >> guest: before that --
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>> host: i just gave my age by the way. >> guest: his acting career got in a bad place and he was doing stand-up comedy he and a singing group in los angeles and g and i wanted to use that as a story of the electrification of the country because that is what happened after world war ii. we had rates in the electricity demand like we would see and china today. these wonderful commercial side talk about ronald reagan and nancy said welcome to my house let me show you my electric servants it's like a vacuum cleaner people take for granted. but i think that there's a consensus on things that were not there before. one of them i remember vividly there wasn't a consensus on this is the question of energy efficiency and becoming more energy efficient. it makes good economic sense it just makes sense to do it and i don't find that there is a kind of political animosity that there needs to be.
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>> host: you are right. it's not sexy. you can't see at. >> guest: that is the challenge of quote before european union who said this is important it's great stuff but there's one problem there is no red ribbon to cut you can't have an opening ceremony and as you can with your beautiful neutral line or something else >> host: also it goes to one of the big challenges in this whole topic and one that has seen a lot of political courage which is there is a personal responsibility, right? barack obama got into a lot of trouble when he talked about the cap-and-trade in the editorial board in california where the whole point of the cap-and-trade is in the price single and the quote that now every republican
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sites which is necessarily skyrocket energy prices. so that's the whole point of what cap-and-trade is. that is the whole point. when you start manipulating it and waxman markey at the end of today by building in basically diminishing the price signal for the consumer will need to talk about in this book over and over and over again what changes people's have it is an increase in price. i remember as a kid my mom saying to me we don't own p&g qtr your bedroom light off. that resonates, but it seems that that is a very hard political road to walk when it you were going to get angry -- >> guest: that's why if you sort of -- i think right now the bad economy jobs and unemployment, these are the dominating questions and concerns about the economy, and you approach energy issues because they are important
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differences than of the prime where there is a wealth affected and there is a fear factor at work and so that is what you do. that is why you go back and see no congressmen vote, no congressman is going to vote for gasoline tax to buy a more efficient car that is what happened in europe. the way that we do about it is behalf fuel efficiency standards as the way to do it and it's just it kind of reflects our culture. >> host: if we continue to go like this, up and down with our support of the renewable energy and other countries either remain constant or go like this or rise would we ever get into the clean energy race? what is interesting about the whole china and japan and asia being ahead of us is that we are
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behind and it is very clear from your book are we ever going to -- >> guest: i don't think we are behind. i think we are at the forefront technologically. china has the manufacturing of low-cost manufacturing and driving down the cost. so that is why they are moving so fast. it's not like they have agreed in sight that we don't. they also have some very important when the source is. in this book like what the chinese government officials talking of the northwest because it is a natural disaster. now we regard them as a precious resource. i don't think it is -- china has x number of wind turbines and i don't think of -- we are losing in that. i think it's the heart of it is what has happened in the innovation, and i think that we continue to be -- we have our great universities and we have
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something else. we have more players coming into the game, the venture capitalists and others said there is more going on. i don't think that we are going to lose. i do think that what is kind of on the horizon right now we're coming down the road would be a better way to put it would be the kind of electric car race or race for the electric car and that is certainly has strategic elements to it. >> host: one of the other things i was struck with and this is me linking what you say in your book to some more current events, during the kyoto protocol working for the clinton administration at that time using the markets just like we did for the besso to -- so2 and the market pricing pollution i've never -- >> guest: that's another
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ronald reagan story. when i was a young man and a gasoline was considered a great technological lead fans got rid of knocking and now we are going to get rid of it they looked around the cabinet room and said none of your old enough to remember. >> host: he talks about when he was arguing against the europeans basically he wanted a mandate, command and control. he said there are three issues, cost and cost and the cost of mitigating the climate change was the system to be far too expensive for any economy to bear. do you agree with that? our attempt in the u.s. to set up a market system in the legislation is permanently stalled. is the clean air act to make expensive? >> guest: the development of using the markets to solve
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environmental problems is a difficult of the 1980's and 1990's as a much more efficient way they didn't have the command and control doing it. it goes back to george h. w. bush's administration and ronald reagan's administration, and it meant that the the cost reductions for reducing so2 from coal generation was lower than had been anticipated so i think that is where the -- what i find when i was listening to people talk about cap-and-trade, that narrative always went back to what had happened in the early 1990's and kind of i was fascinated by kind of wanted to get the story of how did that happen. then we found out of the cap-and-trade society is complex and the economy is much harder to do than something that is fairly focused on a limited number -- i think it's -- i would say if you say what are we
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doing about what the climate policies today i would say getting the course to 54 miles per gallon is a form of the climate policy as well as energy policy. the renewables standards, one-third of california electricity to talk about renewable, that's, you know, that's climate policy. >> host: we can do this from a fossil fuel base out of the price on carvin? others would say that you have to have some form of a price on her part in and that would change everything, but that becomes a complex political, very complex political question in the united states. what i was trying to -- and we also have to realize the energy transitions take a long time. wind is a big business today but it's still small compared to the overall energy business but it's still going to grow. >> host: there is a minute left and i'm going to paraphrase
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-- no come here it is. i wanted to ask you about this because it really struck me. there was one quote kind of -- you were talking about an indian scientist, the head of the environment thousand remish. he said the climate world is divided into three: de climate atheists, the climate agnostics and the climate evangelicals. i think we can probably put people that are in the public and to some categories. which one are you? >> guest: i look on climate as it is clear the whole story about the measuring of carbon if it is going up in the atmosphere and impact on climate. but the timing is and what the models are going to show i'm not a climate scientist that's not what i'm doing. but i

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