The main problem addressed by the book is reliance on foreign oil. In order to control this problem, the United States should choose leaders who are capable of coming up with proper energy plans to reduce overreliance on foreign oil. Pickens T. Boone used simple and accurate language that appealed to many readers.

Book Review

In this book edition of “The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future,” Pickens Boone seek to provide readers with sufficiently researched findings that combine the right mix of traditional and leading edge topical coverage applicable for any course in developing leaders for global sustainability. The author employs an interactive approach and thorough reasoning that are appropriate to readers who seek engaging experience by exploring domestic energy resources, instead of relying on foreign oil.  Pickens is not very coherent in his writings, but various readers have found that the writing style used in this book clearly provides a distinct approach towards developing leaders for global sustainability.

In this book, Pickens Boone provide readers with the unmatched flexibility in regards to their capability of tailoring content to meet the exact needs of developing leaders who can implement more appropriate energy plans for the United States of America. The book is built with various chapters and extended learning modules that allow the user to decide the extent, to which he/she wants to engage in terms of sustainable energy planning and leadership. The most interesting part of this book is chapter thirteen, which explores the concept of “The Big Idea: An Energy Plan for America” (Boone, 2008). Even though, Pickens Boone had several years of experience in the oil industry, his personal interest could not supersede the stakeholders’ interest. In this regard, his writing focused on creating sustainable and independent energy plan for the United States of America (Boone, 2008).

Summary of the Problem

Pickens Boone wrote about this issue because he wanted the United States of America to have an independent source of energy. This is an aspiring issue since one of the current policies in the USA includes the energy efficiency and conservation policies, which the United States commission is to implement to ensure the development and maintenance of regular energy resources in the country. The policy also aims at ensuring a continuous and self sufficient energy supply in the country. The guidelines of the policy are aimed at protecting the quality of the US environment and population from the possible hazards of energy utilization and exploitation. The policies are also aimed at improving the technical capabilities of the USA energy sector for their security of the state, energy self reliance and their economic competitiveness (Boone, 2000).

The implementations of the policy encompass increased attention to utilization of the natural gas for both the industrial uses and domestic uses. The national policy is also to recognize the significance of the rural electrification as one of the ways in which rapid rural electrification can be developed. This is meant to protect the USA environment through the provision of alternative source of energy to the local citizens. Despite the good provisions that this policy promises, the country will not realize its goals unless it changes the vector of its different developments. One of the developments concerns is the current severe shortages of the petroleum products, of which diesel and kerosene are the most prominent. The country can have several domestic refineries, mainly owned by the government. The refineries may have the capacity to produce more than 450,000 barrels of oil per day, if well managed (Elop, 2011). However, the country still imports more than 75 percents of petroleum products required (Smith, 2007). As a matter of fact, the state owned refineries have hardly surpassed a 40 percent capacity utilization rate for an extended period of the last twenty years (Elop, 2011).

The gasoline market in USA is far better when compared to kerosene and diesel markets due to their high profiles politically. As a result, the USA government has resorted to large volumes imports as a remedy to the various shortages of the products. However, there is a weaker political pressure that is being exerted by the consumers of kerosene, mostly consisting of the poor and low middle class citizens. This market segment coupled with the diesel market, main customers being in the industrial sector, both pose an increasing pressure on the government. Moreover, the constraints on the public finance of the large scale imports of these products, compared to the case of gasoline, explains the fact why the country will still continue experiencing severe and persistent energy crisis despite its endowment with natural energy resources. Therefore, there is a continued prevalence of price control regimes. In addition, the multiplicities of both economic and non economic objectives that exist among the various objectives, complicates the issue further. The implicit in the price policies in the energy sector, including petroleum products and oil will result into continuous energy crisis despite the implementation of the policies (Elop, 2011).

Another factor that, if unchanged, will not allow the goals of the current policies to be realized is the pervasive reliance of the country on the self generated oil. The USA has been over reliant on self-generated sources of oil despite its energy resources endowment. The state owned power holding company of the USA fails to provide the country with the minimum acceptable international standards of service reliability, availability and accessibility, with regards to oil supply. The distribution losses of oil as a result of poor distribution are one of the highest internationally. In summary, there are weak concerns and insufficient economic incentives to induce the various state owned companies to engage in the efficient production and investment behaviors of the energy sector (Boone, 2000). There are also institutions and various governance initiatives which will still result into induced gross distortions and inefficiencies in the country’s production, high costs of operations, investment choices, expensive delays and cost overruns in most of the state controlled enterprises as well as low returns on investment. Water pollution and CO2 emission are some of the effects of the failure to control such a regime.

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Pickens Boone has viewed that an alternative approach can be realized through substantial expansion of the quality and quantity of access to different energy infrastructure services. This would foster a significant improvement in ensuring sustainable economic growth and increased welfare of a population, in the United States of America (Boone, 2008). Overcoming the energy crises in the country and ensuring international standards of the quantity, quality, access and reliability of the various energy related services are some of the prerequisite efforts for the country to achieve its economic goals. Therefore, one of the steps for the country in terms of realizing its goals will involve the government efforts, as some of the peculiar nature and initial problems in the of the energy industry are dependent on the government efforts. Government interventions in various sectors will ensure moderating of the issues in the tariff policy that the various sectors require to ensure adequate and affordable sources of energy.

The renewable and non renewable energy resources in the country will be utilized in order to meet the energy requirement of the future. Continued dominance of the fossil fuels, mostly supplemented by the hydroelectricity is envisaged as some of the medium term energy sources. Therefore, hydro, coal, wind, biomass, and nuclear energy technologies are some of the alternatives energy generation options that should be put into considerations. The country should be focused on environmentally friendly energy sources as some of the significant investment strategies with much focus, however, on renewable energy sources in order to meet the consumer electrification demands of the country. The country should also mobilize its financial resources to approach any dramatic scaling up of its various infrastructure capacities. However, it should also factor some of the risks associated with investment, in order to strengthen distribution of the energy supply systems. These may include risks such as economic, socio economic, technological and environmental. Optimal sharing of the risks among the countries principle players in the market, namely the consumers, producers and the government is very significant in ensuring efficient resource allocation in the various industries for sustainable energy future for the United States of America. In addition, the issue of insecurity in supply of oil and gas pipelines that are associated with control of resources agitation in the USA is another political factor that should be addressed. The country should double its efforts to eliminate the tension in this region as urgently as possible (Smith, 2007). Development and procurement, as well as application of best practices in their different sectors, will impact the volume and the quality of investment in the country.

Lack of commitment by the government to implement their energy policies is not a problem that is only evident in the USA, but also in other countries. The United States have done very little to develop its sustainable domestic sources of energy. The United States have emphasized on various ways in which the country can produce alternative sources of energy. In fact, the current regime have proposed higher oil and coal so as to make alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar, to be more price competitive. Most lawmakers have embraced various strategies to develop various forms of energy. However, from today’s situation of oil in the United States, it will be decades before the demand of oil is significantly reduced. Therefore, the question that has been asked is when the United States will meet its goals as far as sustainable energy needs are to be met? The whole problem can be contributed to lack of commitment of the government to implement its energy sources. After the energy spill, for instance, the United States legislators imposed moratorium on new licensees. However, it was lifted in October 2000, and until today, efficient licensing criteria for deep water drilling have not been established (Elop, 2011).

The unrest in Libya had drawn much concern in the countries that even affected the United States, due to predicted increase in oil prices. More than half of the United States oil is from fossil. However, the EPA has been accused of ignoring mine applications. The EPA has turned the proceeds of obtaining mine permits into ways that frustrate coal mines by denying the issuing of permits indefinitely, which is and thus resulting into removal of regulatory policies indefinitely (Smith, 2007).

In conclusion, Pickens Boone did an effective job in addressing the problem of the United States’ dependence on foreign oil. The United States is one of the nations that should not be shaken by various shifts in the oil markets. Although there are better policies that, if implemented, will ensure sustainable energy for the country, inability of the government to implement these policies will result into deeper crisis, in the future. Efficient governance coupled with partnership between the private and the public sector can be forged to meet the various challenges in the United States of America. The disequilibrium in the energy markets and the poor government efforts to realize renewable energies coupled with social, economical and environmental costs of substituting the various inefficient energy alternatives necessitates need for further investment and more effective operations in the energy sector globally.

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