The Weintraub volume might have been better titled Energy Noncooperation, for outside of North American border regions, the promise of hemispheric energy integration remains largely quixotic. Mexicans continue to worship at the feet of their crumbling national oil company, PEMEX, Hugo Chávez's PDVSA is wrecking regional schemes on the alter of its master's quest for personal glory, while Brazil's now world-class Petrobras is taking on the attributes of a profit-driven international oil company. There is much talk of transnational gas pipelines, but noncompliance with contracts by cavalier leaders in Argentina and Bolivia has driven customers in Brazil and Chile toward national energy independence. Most important, U.S. energy policy is made less in Washington than in the exclusive boardrooms of the international oil giants for whom regional integration would, at best, be a byproduct of their business models, which are dictated by profit maximization and risk management. (The chapter by the insider Frank Verrastro is a devastating indictment of the nonpolicies of the U.S. government.) Accepting that energy policy remains essentially a national-level undertaking, the volume is composed primarily of detailed country chapters. Weintraub's sage advice for national energy policy in a combative, politicized world: "Cooperate, but diversify."
Commissioned by the Inter-American Development Bank to identify opportunities in the emerging global biofuel industry in Brazil and the Americas more broadly, A Blueprint for Green Energy in the Americas masterfully amasses the most extensive survey of the ethanol and biodiesel markets available today. Garten Rothkopf (that would be the advisory firm founded by Jeffery Garten and David Rothkopf, who served together in Bill Clinton's Department of Commerce) agrees with Weintraub that true energy security is found not in protected national production but rather in efficient international commodity markets with diverse consumers and producers. Yet in the new world of agro-energy, geography has dealt Latin America a potentially winning hand: "For the region, there is also an opportunity to buck historical precedent and position itself as a hub of technological innovation and value-added exports." Garten Rothkopf serves up a wealth of creative recommendations to help Brazil and other feedstock producers build on their advantages to grow world-class biofuel clusters. A priceless (literally -- it is available for free on the IDB Web site) must-read, Blueprint's substantial executive summary is an accessible primer, while the following 600 pages of country surveys will satiate the alternative-energy enthusiasts.