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The Power Surge

Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America's Future

Author: Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

The Power Surge - the-power-surge
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Publisher A CFR Book. Oxford University Press

Release Date May 2013

Price $18.95 paper

304 pages
ISBN 978-0-19-998616-3


Everything we once knew about American energy seems to be changing," writes Michael A. Levi, CFR senior fellow and director of the program on energy security and climate change, in The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America's Future. "The United States can strengthen its economy, improve national security, and confront climate change if it intelligently embraces the historic gains unfolding all across the energy landscape."

In his new book, Levi offers an intricate portrayal of the rapidly evolving American energy landscape—one defined by surging oil and gas production, a thriving renewable energy industry, and falling oil consumption—and illuminates the consequences of these changes for the economy, national security, and the environment.

The book includes on-the-ground reporting and eye-opening analysis of the country's energy choices, cutting through heated claims made by all sides in America's energy fights. On natural gas, Levi writes: "People who claim that natural gas can propel the U.S. economy in the twenty-first century, if only pesky environmentalists and other concerned citizens lay off, are exaggerating the benefits of the shale gas bonanza. But one needn't exaggerate on this front to conclude that shale gas is a big deal. Indeed the potential consequences go well beyond economics."

Levi's book debunks the idea that the fight over America's energy future is a zero-sum game between old and new sources of energy. "The right strategy for the United States would embrace opportunities in old and new energy alike," he concludes.

Educators: Access Teaching Notes for The Power Surge.

More About This Publication

"All revolutions need their storytellers. So it is surprising that America's energy revolution of the past few years has not had a serious scribe before now. . . . In The Power Surge Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations takes an excellent first stab at making sense of America's new energy resources. . . . The book's main strength is the clarity with which the author explains the development of shale exploitation and assesses the implications of the shale boom."
--The Economist

"An authoritative new book."
--Joe Nocera, New York Times

"The Power Surge is just fabulous."
--Tom Keene, Bloomberg

"Michael Levi's The Power Surge is a welcome relief to melodramatic debates over energy. With a calm voice and an eye for detail, Levi makes the case for a more realistic scenario: renewable energy and fossil fuels are set to share the stage for decades to come. . . . Levi touches on many ways the energy boom may impact other issues, including climate change, foreign policy and even the dynamics within small communities. . . . [T]here is a wealth of detail and insights, delivered in a clear prose."
-–Kevin Begos, Associated Press

"Levi . . . is a smart, pragmatic observer of the energy wars. . . . He knows how to cut through specious arguments on both sides of the energy-and-climate debate while keeping in target the bigger challenges facing the U.S. and the world. . . . [The Power Surge] is one of the best analyses of the amazing changes taking place in the energy sphere today, touching on everything from fracking to climate change to the Keystone XL pipeline debate."
--Bryan Walsh, Time

"Michael Levi's new book, The Power Surge, is very likely to be one of the best things you'll read about the ongoing oil and gas boom in the United States. . . . [T]he book is filled with detailed on-the-ground reporting and carefully reasoned observations about how the oil and gas uptick could have all sorts of unexpected impacts on everything from U.S. foreign policy to climate change to transportation. And it works remarkably well: There were dozens of places that forced me to completely reconsider what I thought I knew about energy markets."
--Brad Plumer, Washington Post

"A boom in oil and gas production, coupled with the sliding cost of renewable energy, offers the United States a chance to curb reliance on foreign fuels and boost economic growth. Levi's book The Power Surge makes a persuasive case that Democrats and Republicans can at least avoid mutual sabotage . . . Appeals for bipartisanship are often quixotic. Levi, however, manages to avoid sounding utopian . . . Levi's myth-busting is exactly what the U.S. energy debate needs."
--Christopher Swann, Reuters

"Recommended . . . [An] engaging and illuminating book."
--David Biello, Scientific American

"We highly recommend picking up The Power Surge."
--Rob Wile, Business Insider

"This book gives you [a] strategy, gives you a game plan, and it gives you critical insights . . . . Everybody, I encourage you strongly to buy this book . . . . Buy this book. It's awesome."
--Marc Lamont Hill, Huffington Post

"[A] breakthrough book."
--Perry Smith, Augusta Chronicle

"[A]n illuminating account."
--Reihan Salam,
National Review

"In The Power Surge, Michael Levi captures the emerging turning point in America's energy situation. Combining thoughtful analysis and balanced independent judgment with vivid on-the-ground reporting, Levi delivers both a timely field guide to today's fervent energy debates and compelling insight into the evolving mix of options that is shaping tomorrow's energy world."
--Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World and of The Prize

"Michael Levi has given us a rare gift: a sensible, substantive book that is so well-written it's fun to read. The Power Surge argues persuasively that we must move beyond false choices between clean energy and traditional fuels, and instead aggressively pursue both in new ways. And along the way, it introduces colorful characters and rigorously examines why our energy future is crucial to our economic one. With this book, Levi cements his growing reputation as one of the nation's leading thinkers on energy."
--Peter Orszag, Vice-Chairman, Citigroup, and former director of the Office of Management and Budget

"The Power Surge packs big ideas into a concise and illuminating package to make a powerfully persuasive case for America's embracing an all-of-the above energy future. Michael Levi cuts through vast barriers of suspicion and ideology to find common interests where the stakeholders do not. The shale gas boom and renewables revolution together promise a U.S. energy trifecta, for the economy, security, and the environment, a future that offers new reasons for Americans to unite."
--William K. Reilly, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator and co-chair of the President's BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Commission

"Energy will energize our economy and our political debates over the next few years as never before. Michael Levi's important book should be carefully considered by anyone who cares about our energy future and that means anyone who cares about our economic future."
--Lawrence H. Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus, Harvard University, and former Secretary of the Treasury

"The Power Surge is a sweeping account and incisive examination of today's profound global energy developments and the inextricably related political and environmental challenges."
--Frederick W. Smith, Chairman & CEO, FedEx Corporation

"[P]acked with perspective . . . Readers seeking to understand America's energy policies and prospects will welcome this even-handed, smart, and accessible book on a topic of incomparable economic importance."
--Publishers Weekly

"Calm, reasoned and balanced, presenting arguments and evidence, not wish lists and beliefs."
--Kirkus Reviews

Read the interview with

Listen to Michael Levi discuss The Power Surge on the Point of Inquiry podcast.

The Power Surge included in the Foreign Policy Association's list of "Five Books to Read This Summer."

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