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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
Turning Oil Into Salt: Energy Independence Through Fuel Choice
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on March 5, 2010
This book packs more crucial information on our national fuel and energy problem than any other this reviewer has seen yet. In a surprisingly short space (124 pages) the authors make their arguments articulately and convincingly. That means: with plenty of evidence to back up their themes and claims. The title line simply means that oil has become the premier strategic material in the world today, and we should aim to make oil an un-strategic commodity, as what happened with salt 100 years ago. For eons salt had been a strategic material, mainly for preserving food, thus people and countries have fought vigorously for its control. Mainly because refrigeration has become the main way to store and transport food since the early 20th century, salt has declined to UN-strategic status. Oil is strategic today because there is no alternative for most of its uses, yet.

Most everything we buy involves a choice. This is not so at the gas station. Gasoline is currently an oil product, the raw material of which is mostly imported. The plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV) could increase the MPG per gallon gasoline equivalent (mpgg) to over 100 mpgg. But the real difference will be made with the flex-fuel PHEV, which can run on many power sources, and with gasoline and several kinds of alcohols, which in turn can be made from many biological sources. These sources, also, need not compete in any heavy way with food production. The key to all this necessarily will be making the combustion and exhaust systems in the automobile sturdy enough to burn alcohols. The author estimates this improvement would only cost about $100 per car. Even at $200, this is a superior solution.

The necessary law that must be passed by Congress is the Open Fuel Standard, which has both House and Senate bills already considered. As above, this move would be "lightly borne by industry," as libertarian economists state it, and open the way to reducing the importance of oil trade. This in turn causes the largest benefit of making "oil into salt": vastly improved national security, and increased world economic prosperity. Until about 15% of our cars are flex-fuel, though, station owners will not be able to economically convert part of their facility to alcohols. Automakers have very often stated that they could indeed make half of their autos flex-fueled, say the authors. Get this most interesting and informative book, and a be treated to the last part where Luft and Korin opine that lithium may become the new strategic material, once electric-capable autos make their heavy debut!
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on May 29, 2013
There are many books written about energy independence.

There are however only two that really stand out: "Turning Oil Into Salt" by Luft & Korin and "Energy Victory" by Zubrin.

The title of this book, "Turning Oil Into Salt" takes a few minutes of thinking to appreciate what it really means.

Salt is an essential commodity for life. Once upon a time, it was so valuable that it was controlled by governments to allow them to collect high taxes. However, this book, "Turning Oil Into Salt" describes how free market forces made salt cheap, still essential, but very inexpensive.

The same thing applies to oil ... essential ... but we can use free market forces to make it cheap ... essential, but very inexpensive ... and at the same time, get out from under unstable regimes and bureaucracies around the world.

There are alternatives to becoming dependent on unstable governments for our oil and our energy ... and the authors describe them in detail.

Besides ethanol, there is also methanol. [Yes, you can't drink methanol, but you can't drink gasoline, either.]

For DETAILED descriptions of Flex-Fuel vehicles and how they work, read Zubrin's book "Energy Victory" and also visit his Web site of the same name. [You can build a Flex-Fuel car for about $100 more than a regular car.]

You also need to read Robert Bryce's book, "Power Hungry".

Read these three and you will have a very positive approach to energy in general and oil in particular.

We are not addicted to oil or to energy ... not any more than we are addicted to air. We need air to live, but we are not addicted to it.

Similarly, we need energy ... to grow food ... to provide transportation ... to light up our homes and to wash our clothes ... to bring water from where it occurs to where we live. So it is in our best interests to develop inexpensive energy, not controlled by unstable or micromanaging governments and bureaucracies ...

[Bureaucracy? Explain why all over the world, converting cars to CNG is a DIY project ... but in the USA, the EPA levies gargantuan fines if you try it. Kids demonstrate how easy it is on YouTube; but not under the EPA!]

And these two ... three ... books best describe how it can be done ... easily ... with free market forces.
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on November 15, 2009
The authors explain both WHY WE MUST and HOW WE CAN free our country from dependence on foreign oil which is bankrupting our economy, jeopardizing our future as we fill the national bank accounts of oil producing countries and their proxies who seek worldwide dominance of Islam and Shaaria Law through the destruction of America and other Democracies.

This book offers one "game changing" strategy to break dependence upon foreign oil by substituting liquid fuels produced domestically and by friendly nations , at a cost of less than $100 per car utilizing existing and scalable technology. Concisely written in laymen's terms, history, politics, economic and scientific fact are presented along with a hopeful plan for Democracies to safeguard their future.

This should be mandatory reading for every member of Congress with a follow up quiz, the results of which should be published in all local newspapers around the country. Shame on Congress, for having failed to resolve this issue, apparent since the 1973 Oil Embargo and for hiding behind diversionary mumbo jumbo including such as "the Hydrogen Economy" and "Climate Change Legislation".
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on December 6, 2009
At a slim 124 pages, it's a quick read. And while I was often frustrated by the polemical style of their argument, and sometimes by the substance as well, there were a lot of good ideas and I think reading it would be time well spent for anyone interested in energy.

Their overall thesis of "fuel choice" as the key to energy independence is compelling, and they are quite knowledgeable about the energy space. Their proposal rests on two pillars - flex-fuel vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. I found their argument for flex-fuel vehicles strong, but their case that the cost of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will fall dramatically rested on some very hopeful assumptions about the future. Flex-fuel plug-in hybrids would be great, but if they remain too expensive they won't be adopted on a broad scale.

See here for a more detailed review:
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on November 14, 2009
This book presents some very interesting new perspectives on the importance of US oil independence. It's right up to date, even discussing such projects as the Chevrolet Volt. The book is more balanced than many on this subject. It comes to the same conclusion as such others as Energy Victory: that we must get America off dependence on foreign oil as quickly as possible. When you consider that in the last month (October 2009)our exports increased by 3% but our trade deficit increased by 18% because of oil price increases the reason is obvious. OPEC is draining our capital. My one regret is that the book is relatively short. Still it's packed with interesting information. If you're concerned about our balance of trade and homeland security it's a must read.
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on October 29, 2010
This is a very important book. My husband was fortunate to be able to meet the author. He made some excellent points and we all need to be even more aware of our tremendous reliance on middle eastern oil. This is a short book. No reason at all to say you are too busy to read it.
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on December 14, 2014
Superb analysis.
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on February 21, 2013
This brief, informative and stimulating book is a must read for everyone, but especially by anyone in government or the energy industry. The recent findings of massive natural gas reserves in the US are not addressed, nor are the price drops in solar panels, but these do not change the validity of the big picture. I came away totally convinced by the arguments put forth by Gal Luft and Anne Korin, but even if only half of their arguments are true then this book contains extremely important prescriptions that must absolutely be adopted, and the sooner the better.
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on October 24, 2009
I have read this book and heard the author speak. This book is the clearest description of the oil dependency situation that I have ever read. The writing is straightforward and direct. she poses the issue of oil dependency and provides a simple and thoughtful solution that is also practical and pragmatic. Simply put, if we drove vehicles that could use a choice of fuels that in itself would destroy oil's strategic position. Oil would become just another commodity. GM already produces flex-fuel cars for Brazil, but they are not required here. Why not?! Simply the politicians put politics over issues. I think we can also assume that Saudi Arabia spreads around a lot of influence in Washington. Drilling more or saving more oil will have no effect when Saudi Arabia controls the market. Big oil is only about 8% of the oil market. Big Oil sees the problem and is becoming a major contributor to battery technology and ethanol production. There is a quick and easy way to have a great impact on this problem. Drive flex-fuel vehicles. Call your senator/congressman. This book is well written and informative.
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