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Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction [Hardcover]

by Terry Tamminen
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 2, 2006 0973590513 978-0973590517 0
How much would you pay for a gallon of gas? $2.50? $10.00? Would you pay with the health of your lungs or with years taken from your lifespan?

The infamous "pain at the pump" runs much deeper than our wallets, argues Terry Tamminen, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and current Special Assistant to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Petroleum may power our cars and heat our homes, but it also contributes to birth defects and disorders like asthma and emphysema, not to mention cancer. In Lives Per Gallon, Tamminen takes a hard look at these and other health, environmental, and national security costs hidden in every barrel of oil.

While the petroleum industry is raking in huge profits, Tamminen shows, it is studiously avoiding measures that would lessen the hazards of its products. Using the successful lawsuits by state governments against big tobacco as a model, the author sets forth a bold strategy to hold oil and auto companies accountable and force industry reform. He also offers a blueprint for developing alternative energy sources based on California's real world experiences.

Certain to be controversial, Lives Per Gallon is an unblinking assessment of the true price of petroleum and a prescription for change. The choice is clear: continuing paying with our health, or kick our addiction and evolve beyond an oil-dependent economy.

Editorial Reviews


...launches a blistering attack on the practices of the world's oil and automobile industries..."
(Sacramento Bee)

“America’s prosperity, our independence and security, our democracy and our ideals, our international leadership and national pride are all dependent on our breaking our lethal oil addiction.  Terry Tamminen has turned the spotlight of clarity on the defining issue of our age.”


(Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. President, Waterkeeper Alliance)

“We all thought we knew the costs of oil addiction—power to terrorists and tyrants, and global climate change. But Tamminen's book demonstrates that we don't know the half of it. Gasoline is a deadly carcinogen like tobacco. The health, environmental, and climatic impact of our oil dependency, he shows, is catastrophic. And the economic cost of subsidizing the oil industry is bankrupting. But Tamminen does more than point to the problems. He lays out step-by-step solutions to ending our oil addiction. I only wish that all members of Congress would read this book.”




(Dick Morris Fox News political analyst and former advisor to President Clinton)

“Tamminen’s personal and impassioned overview of the evidence against Big Oil makes a persuasive argument for the urgency of ending our petroleum habit.”

(Orion magazine)

About the Author

Terry Tamminen founded the Santa Monica BayKeeper and served as its Executive Director for six years. He also served for five years as Executive Director of the Environment Now Foundation in Santa Monica. He was appointed as the Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency in November, 2003 and is currently Special Assistant to the Governor.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press (October 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0973590513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0973590517
  • ASIN: 1597261017
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 12.7 x 5.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,722,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

From his youth in Australia to career experiences in Europe, Africa, China and across the United States, Terry has developed expertise in business, farming, education, non-profit, the environment, the arts, and government.

A United States Coast Guard-licensed ship captain, Terry has long been drawn to the undersea world, starting in the 1960s with a family-run tropical fish breeding business in Australia and continuing with studies on conch depletion in the Bahamas, manatee populations in Florida coastal waters, and mariculture in the Gulf States with Texas A&M University.

On land, Terry managed the largest sheep ranch east of the Mississippi, assisting the University of Minnesota in developing new methods of livestock disease control. Terry also managed a multi-million dollar real estate company, owned a successful recreational services business, and assisted the West African nation of Nigeria with the creation of their first solid waste recycling program.

In 1993, Terry founded the Santa Monica BayKeeper and co-founded additional Waterkeeper programs in five California watersheds. He later served as the Executive Director of the Environment Now Foundation in Santa Monica, CA and co-founded the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic at the School of Law, University of California Los Angeles.

In the summer of 2003, Terry helped Arnold Schwarzenegger win the historic recall election and become Governor of California. He was appointed as the Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency in November 2003 and was later appointed Cabinet Secretary, the Chief Policy Advisor to the Governor. During his service in state government, Terry was the architect of many groundbreaking sustainability policies, including California's landmark Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, the Hydrogen Highway Network, and the Million Solar Roofs initiative.

Terry left state government in late 2006 in order to help other states and world governments adopt clean energy and sustainability policies based on California's successes. In February 2007, he founded the non-profit organization Seventh Generation Advisors (SGA). SGA's strategy is to create a "bottom up" approach, rather than waiting for policy from the top. This strategic approach has proven successful, and since 2007, Terry and SGA convinced many states and provinces to copy California policies and other "best practices" on clean energy and climate policy.

In 2007 he was also named the Cullman Senior Fellow for climate policy at the New America Foundation and was appointed as an Operating Advisor to Pegasus Capital Advisors, a private equity fund that provides capital to middle market companies across a wide variety of industries specializing in resource efficiency and sustainable technologies.

In 2011 Terry was appointed as the R20 Founding Chair's Strategic Advisor. The R20 Regions of Climate Action, created in 2010 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other sub-national leaders, is a new public-private partnership, bringing together sub-national governments; businesses; financial markets; NGOs; and academia to implement measurable, large-scale, low-carbon and climate resilient economic development projects that can simultaneously solve the climate crisis and build a sustainable global economy. As the Founding Chair's Strategic Advisor, Terry is advising the R20 on policy and helping with the design and implementation of climate resilient economic development projects.

An accomplished author, Terry's latest book, Watercolors: How JJ the Whale Saved Us, shares his remarkable true story of the rescue of JJ, a one-day-old gray whale that was found abandoned in Marina del Rey, California. His previous book, Cracking the Carbon Code: The Keys to Sustainable Profits in the New Economy (Palgrave), shows how to find the low carbon products and services that save money, get ahead of regulations, and preserve resources for generations to come. Terry's former book, Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction (Island Press), is a timely examination of our dependence on oil and a strategy to evolve to more sustainable energy sources. He has also authored a series of best-selling "Ultimate Guides" to pools and spas (McGraw-Hill) and several theatrical works on the life of William Shakespeare. Terry is an avid airplane and helicopter pilot and speaks German, Dutch and Spanish.

Terry was one of six finalists for the 2011 Zayed Future Energy Prize, which offers $2.2 million of awards in the category of clean, sustainable energy recognizing individuals, non-profits, and companies that are doing the most to commercialize and distribute renewable energy to replace fossil fuels and cut pollution. Terry Tamminen was named Vanity Fair's May 2007 Environmental Hero and in TIME Magazine's 2007 Earthday edition, he was featured in the "51 Things We Can Do" section. In 2008, The Guardian ranked Terry No. 1 in its "Top 50 People Who Can Save the Planet." In 2009, Tamminen was named an "Eco Baron" in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes's book, Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hi. My name's John, and I'm addicted to oil. October 23, 2006
If only there were a twelve step program for America's oil addiction. Of course, we'd all drive to meetings in our SUVs. This book is so much more than a chronicle of how the infernal combustion engine and the petroleum industry have made billions riding roughshod over the planet. It's a call to action. If you've ever done an intervention (or wanted to do one) for a friend who was hooked on something and killing himself/herself, then read this book and realize that your friend is the earth and everyone on it. Terry Tamminen's book makes us see that we're all caught in an oil spill.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ugly Truth About Fossil Fuel and More December 24, 2006
By Bugs
Terry Tamminen has put together a monumental expose' of the true cost of our fossil fuel addiction and the U.S auto industry collusion to mislead both consumers and government alike on the health hazards of fossil fuel exhaust- not much different than tobacco smoke and that industry's playing-down the health risks of their products.

The history of oil use is well covered including wars and potential wars over it's control, government subsidies, fossil fuel contribution to global warming and the global crisis we face when the oil reserves run out. After reading about the multiple ways that fossil fuel consumption has polluted air, water and land, one is left with a feeling that the world oil supply will hopefully run out sooner than later.

Tamminen paints a bleak picture of the corruption and pollution of fossil fuel use, but he also gives positive coverage of the emerging clean/green ZEV (zero emission vehicles) technology such as electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell propulsion and electric generating systems coupled with solar, wind, and photovoltaic systems to replace the out-dated fossil fuel systems. Also covered are the many things individuals can do on their own to reduce their personal energy consumption footprint, i.e., use low-watt bulbs, drive a hybrid or electric car and boycott wasteful products- buy green. Collectively, these actions add up and make a huge difference in total energy consumption while sending a strong message to the merchants of toxic products that their products are no longer desired.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lives Per Gallon October 24, 2006
This book reads like a mystery novel but weaves together a compelling mountain of facts that illustrate what President Bush has referred to as America's "addiction to oil." Tamminen's book explores in depth the severity of the consequences of that addiction, from demonstrable public health impacts to dependence on regimes that don't like us. But more importantly, this book identifies a number of solutions to move us away from our dependence on oil. Too many well-written books do a thorough job of outlining the problem, but few authors take the time to discuss solutions. Reasonable people will disagree about what are the best solutions to our addiction, but Tamminen's book offers a menu of tools that can begin the discussion.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantasic information but flawed conclusions December 16, 2006
This is a great book and an easy read. I've never been a "environmentalist" so I'm not familiar with most of what was in this book, I've only recently started reading this kind of information and coming to believe that we really have to change. From that perspective, I thought what he was telling us about the health dangers of gasoline and oil, the similarities between those dangers and the dangers of tobacco, the similarities between the way big oil and auto respond to these dangers (and deny them) to the same behavior from big toboacco, were all things I'd never really thought of. And while we all probably know at some level the envorommental cost of oil drilling, he gave some pretty stark examples of where the 3rd world is being exploited to give us a few drops more thanks to their lack of regulations.

And the military cost of protecting our oil interests (or the costs of some other country trying to fill their own oil needs in the case of Japan and WWII) are things we all really need to think about in terms of deciding what our priorities are.

He lists some great, feasible options for putting our oil thirst on a diet and what we can do in the short and medium term to reduce oil dependence. But his flaws came in his suggestions that we essentially litigate the snot out of the oil companies much like we're done and are doing to tobacco. sorry. The only people that plan will benefit are the lawyers. And his main conclusion pushing us toward 1 single oil/fuel alternative seems to turn the end into a sales pitch.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lives Per Gallon....a Five Star Stunner November 21, 2006
I just finished Lives Per Gallon and am both stunned and inspired. Not only does this book reveal the shocking horrors of our reliance on oil...but it made me want to do something about it. This is a page-turner that kept me riveted. A Must Read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More MPG Needed! March 13, 2008
Not only are oil and its products becoming more expensive, it also creates hidden, more insidious costs such as the billions spent annually to secure our global supply, crops ruined by pollution, and cancer and other serious health effects. Living in a smog-filled city can be as dangerous as smoking half-a-pack of cigarettes/day, says Tamminen.

Then are the inevitable leaks and spills at oil wells, refineries, and involving tankers, and the risks associated with global warming.

Probably the most valuable contribution of "Lives Per Gallon" is its detailing how the auto and oil industries have lobbied (misrepresented) to impede progress.

"Lives Per Gallon" ends with suggestions on saving fuel (slower speeds, higher tire inflation, less weight/vehicle, improved engine design, less idling, lower octanes where applicable, eliminate jackrabbit starts), and possible legal strategies to force progress.

Good material, though Tamminen sometimes goes over-the-top - eg, his documentation does not support concluding energy/auto subsidies of $1 trillion/year; his enthusiasm for ethanol is way overstated given its impact on food prices and our limited farmland.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars More MPG Needed!
Not only are oil and its products becoming more expensive, it also creates hidden, more insidious costs such as the billions spent annually to secure our global supply, crops... Read more
Published on July 30, 2010 by Loyd E. Eskildson
2.0 out of 5 stars Intellectually dishonest
I came across this book while researching an Economics Masters thesis. As someone that has been focusing more and more on energy related issues, I picked this book up. Read more
Published on November 4, 2008 by Nathan K. Forczyk
4.0 out of 5 stars Not recommended for a superficial reading...
I`m reading this book, and contains a lot of details about the impact of oil and its subproducts on environment, health and so. Read more
Published on December 14, 2007 by AGUSTIN DIAZ
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Citizens Concerned about Our Energy Future
Terry Tamminen has seen the ravages of big oil first hand in many places around the world. A skilled and engaging writer, he weaves his experiences into a compelling narrative... Read more
Published on May 18, 2007 by Geoffrey Holland
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read
Tamminen does a superb job of detailing how the oil industry has put the world in such a precarious position, both environmentally and human health wise, all just for corporate... Read more
Published on May 6, 2007 by B. Baldridge
5.0 out of 5 stars If anything, puts the problem too mildly
Terry Tamminen points out the stupendous costs of America's oil addiction. I certainly recommend the book, if only as a starting point for discussion. Read more
Published on March 14, 2007 by Paula L. Craig
2.0 out of 5 stars double counting errors
The book reveals where where the consumer is being subsidized, and is therefore helpful. Unfortunately, the author can't stop counting and runs into double counting errors to the... Read more
Published on December 6, 2006
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Story Worthy of Film
Terry Tamminen gives an unblinking view of the price we pay for the way we live. From backyard "polluters for pleasure" to the large multinationals - no one gets a free pass. Read more
Published on October 30, 2006 by R. Eidinger
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