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Why We Hate the Oil Companies: Straight Talk from an Energy Insider Hardcover – May 25, 2010

3.2 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Why We Hate the Oil Companiesis refreshingly pragmatic in its view, an engaging and illuminating read in an incredibly politicized policy area…America will be all the better for it.”—Foreign Policy

“Mr. Hofmeister does his country a favor by pointing the finger of blame at the government and not at oil companies, which, every time there’s a major hurricane, are used as scapegoats so politicians don’t have to take responsibility for the fundamental causes of the nation’s daunting energy situation. We need more voices like Mr. Hofmeister’s.”—The Washington Times

“In an ambitious attempt to redefine the national discussion on energy policy, John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil Co., argues that pretty much everyone—from politicians to oil execs to environmentalists—is wrong on the issue…The good news: his ideas could actually work…A compelling, important book, especially given current events.”—Newsweek

“Essential…[Lays out his points] brilliantly and entertainingly. And with the eerie calm of a Vlucan. And he spares no one criticism.”—Esquire

“A remarkably balanced reflection from a past industry player. Hofmeister obviously doesn’t give a rip about what his former colleagues think about him; he’s critical of the industry and has the street cred to be…Offers some aggressive solutions to global warming and the over-consumption of energy.”—The Globe and Mail “[Hofmeister] persuasively argues that oil companies’ sometimes poor actions and reputations combined with politicians’ false promises have created an untenable framework for moving forward in addressing the United States’ energy future.”—Santa Fe Reporter

“Provocative….Insightful….Stimulating….See the alternative view of an insider! Share his outrage.”--Ram Charan, bestselling co-author of Execution and author of What the CEO Wants You to Know

“As President of Shell Oil, [Hofmeister] addressed future energy and environmental security, challenging the industry to increase awareness of the energy issues. Now, [he] is reaching out to educate Americans about energy and solutions to ensure that preserving the environment is a top priority for public policy. John knows his ‘business’ and will help citizens and policy makers alike change the way we view our responsibility to the future.” —Gretchen M. Bataille, President, University of North Texas

“[Hofmeister] takes a broad view of what we need to do to craft a successful energy strategy for our nation and has first hand knowledge of why our past policies have failed to prepare us for 21st Century challenges.” —Robert S. Walker, Former Chairman of the Science Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, Chairman of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Energy

“Entertaining and irreverent, skewering nicely all participants in energy supplies, demand and policies and is founded on a deep understanding of the economics, technologies and politics that drive the system. Fulfills a very important role in educating a broad readership in the critical issues of the national energy system and proposing pragmatic solutions with flair and candor. For the sake of the nation, I very much hope it attracts the high level of attention that it deserves.”--Christopher E. Ross, Vice President, CRA Charles River Associates and co-author of “Terra Incognita - A Navigation Aid for Energy Leaders” ”I have been interested in energy issues since high school and have read extensively on energy-related subjects. This is, by far, the most coherent, thoughtful, practical and compelling book I have ever read on energy technology and policy issues.”--Mike Critelli, chairman of Dossia Service Corporation, retired chairman and CEO, Pitney Bowes “Why We Hate the Oil Companies is riveting. I keep quoting it to people. Reading it is like having a wise uncle in the energy industry (and an environmental advocate to boot) who takes you aside and tells you, in straight language, exactly what’s wrong and right with the current American system. Candor, insight, and urgency at John Hofmeister’s level are so rare that, before this book arrived, I’d forgotten they existed.”-- Art Kleiner, editor-in-chief, strategy+business

About the Author

John Hofmeister joined Shell Oil in 1997 and served as its president from 2005-2008, following twenty-five years in major energy consuming companies, including GE, Nortel and AlliedSignal. He is now the chairman of the board of the National Urban League and founder of the nonprofit Citizens for Affordable Energy. He has appeared on the Today Show, Meet the Press, and other major news shows, and continues to be sought out as an expert on energy issues by media including CNN, CNBC, Fox Business Today, and Bloomberg, among others. He lives in Houston, TX.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230102085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230102088
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,092,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. Taylor on May 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I'm hardly a 'Drill, Baby, Drill' fanatic, I very much believe we should be moving full-speed ahead with cleaner alternatives and get off of hydrocarbons as soon as possible.

That being said, the information this guy presents has opened my eyes a bit to the real problems with cutting back on oil, etc, and relying on clean energy alternatives too quickly. The fact is we are no where near the point where the infrastructure to produce sufficient energy to meet even our current energy needs exists with alternatives...much less the demand of the future as we continue to grow. Cutting back too fast means suddenly energy is horribly expensive, because there is less of it. Simple economics. It's those without money that are going to suffer if and when this happens. Higher energy prices mean higher prices of everything, and many are barely hanging on as it is.

So, yes, alternative fuels and clean energy sources, as many and as fast as possible! But! It isn't as easy and as "tra-la-la", holding hands and singing songs as we dance into the green utopia as it sounds...some of what this author talks about is going to have to be taken into serious consideration if we want to get there in a realistic sense.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Why We Hate the Oil Companies is a book about energy, the economy and politics. I became aware of the book during the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The author, John Hofmeister is the former President of Shell Oil, in North America. Each night, despondent, I watched Anderson Cooper or Campbell Brown on CNN interview various pundits, interested parties, stakeholders, etc. Frequently John Hofmeister was the industry "expert". I heard him speak about the limited options considered by the various leaders in resolving the oil leak compared to the much broader set of choices, often unconsidered. He would say some things that challenged my personal views.

I have been trying to find the video clip of an interview where he was challenged on the intrinsic safety of deep-water drilling. His response, paraphrased was that oil companies do deep-water drilling because they are not allowed to do the much safer shallow-water drilling. I believe there may be good reasons to not do shallow-water drilling, however - it never occurred to me that we had much more accessible, and safer to reach oil closer to shore. It was his statements that I could not readily place within my base-knowledge, either to affirm or deny that made me curious about his book as its title flashed beneath his name, night after night, during the oil spill.

In the book, Mr. Hofmeister builds the following case. First, a clean, post-industrial economy of the future will use more energy, not less than an old-line manufacturing economy.
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Format: Hardcover
Everyone concerned will the energy and associated political issues will benefit greatly from reading this book. The more so that the author, as a former president of Shell Oil Company, had walked the talk. Add to this the insightfulness and clarity of the presentation.

Inept political governance is the major point in author's explanations for the sorry state of the U.S. energy policies. He points to the fact that all alternative energy sources produce presently only two percent of the energy in the U.S. Besides, they are heavily subsidized. Developing each of them to become a meaningful replacement for the carbon fuels will take many years. He is also critical of the American attraction to living on vast spreads of land. He sees hope in the grass root movements.

Author is concerned that increasing artificially the gasoline price would be unfair to half of the population, namely, to those who are under the median annual income. We submit, A Better Organization: Facing Threats to Our Country, this could be done `naturally', via the environmental levies which are based on the overall environmental costs (caused by the gasoline engine exhaust in particular) and implemented gradually. The framework of the levies would engage the exceptional adaptive capabilities of the capitalist free market economy and result in the orderly economic restructuring towards the energy, as well as environmental sustainability.

Author points to the inefficiency of the internal combustion engine, where only 20 percent of energy goes into the generation of movement.
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I heard Mr. Hofmeister lecture at Florida State University and ordered his book since the local libraries didn't seem to be doing it. He makes a strong case for shoring up the "bridge" hydrocarbons and nuclear while we are going about setting up the "new" alternative energies and hydrogen fuel cells. The current utilities infrastructure is aging and no new nuclear or coal plants have been built since the 70's--the life expectancy of a utility plant is 50 yrs and the average age of our plants is 38 yrs and it takes about a decade to get a plant online - so in 10 yrs if we haven't done anything we will be facing brownouts and shortages - which all the "alternative energy sources" planned will not make up for. To get some consistent policies so companies can plan ahead, he suggests an "energy resources board" like the Federal Reserve Board - independent of political cycles and made up of experts-- to set policy and plan for the future phase-in of both alterantive and cleaner traditional energy sources. As a former president of Shell Oil, he testifies to the difficulty of getting new infrastructure (in his case a liquefied gas receiving station in LI Sound-an area that is coming up on its energy limits since Shoreham nuclear plant was denied in the 1970's) - there is a thicket of agency permits and rules both local and national that companies have to jump through and even then there is no assurance of getting something built - so they have largely given up. If his facts are right, then we should be paying attention, even though when he talks about preserving the "American lifestyle" I have to wonder just whose "American lifestyle" he wants to preserve, because I see an awful lot muscle trucks and living beyond one's means in the "American lifestyle" around here.Read more ›
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