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Time to Launch US National Energy Program

By Bill Moore

Lawrence Klaus worked for the Boeing Aerospace Group during the Apollo program that achieved President Kennedy’s goal of placing a man on the moon in a decade. Now he thinks it's time we do the same to cut our dependence on imported oil.

Lawrence Klaus began his career as an architect, working on a variety of projects including the working drawings for the World Trade Center before moving on to Boeing. At Boeing he designed and implemented automated business systems concerned with the design, manufacture, test, delivery, and installation of major military missile, space, and associated programs. The systems didn’t build the hardware; they managed building of the hardware. And it is these systems and approaches Klaus proposes to adapt to plan and implement a National Energy Program. He also participated in internal business planning to define ASG program management and information systems capabilities with civilian applications. Boeing is carrying on this work today through its Phantom Ventures organization that created and operates Boeing Energy.

Throughout his broad professional career, he has learned the importance of setting tangible goals with achievable timelines. Put a man on the moon in a decade and then go for it. Apollo 11 was the culmination of that PROGRAM, not a project. Here Klaus is adamant. What America has done up to this point to manage its energy demand are essentially 'projects' not programs. That's because there is, in his view, no equivalent to NASA, no national mission to move beyond petroleum. Instead, we limp from one band aid solution to the next; from one interim patchwork of technological fixes and tax breaks to the next. The current tight gas and shale oil 'boom' in parts of the United States using hydraulic fracturing practices is just the latest short-term, stop-gap measure. IEA and EIA both forecast that production of shale oil will fall short of achieving independence from imported oil.

Meanwhile in Eastern Europe, the Russian government is using its greatest strategic assets - its own abundant reserves of gas and oil - to bully the Ukraine and seize Crimea, straining East-West relations. At the moment, the United States has naval task forces in the China Sea, the Mediterranean, and Persian Gulf poised at a number of geopolitical tensions points, and is moving a destroyer to the Black Sea. Any one of these situations could flare up into a major political, economic or energy crisis, or inadvertently turn into a war.

On top of this is the widening gap between the amount of energy the world is going to need over the coming two decades and the amount energy companies can provide. In light of these realities, Klaus is struggling to get America's political leadership to recognize the seriousness of the problem and the national security threat involved to create the energy equivalent of the Apollo program. Since the transportation sector is the largest single user of oil it is probable that transportation would be a main focus of any program.

Among oil users, the U.S. military is a significant consumer. Its ability to carry out its mission is directly tied to its dependence on oil; bunker fuel for its ships, jet fuel for its planes, diesel fuel for its tanks and trucks. As he points out in this 40-minute interview, 70% of the capacity of convoys supplying the U.S. Army is tied up in transporting fossil fuel and this is a significant source of battlefield casualties. The less dependent our nation and our military is on oil at home and on the battlefield, the less pressure there is on our troops to have to defend access to that oil. Klaus points out that dependence on imported oil is not just about us. Our security and stability is becoming inextricably linked to security and stability elsewhere in the world. America must lead by example to induce and enable other nations to work us to eliminate the coming global shortfall; which is discussed in DOD’s Joint Operating Environment 2010 report. [See also Pentagon's  2014 Quadrennial Defense Review ].

With his background in program planning and management, Klaus is proposing creation of a joint public/private entity – not a new government agency. He spells out the reasons for moving quickly on this and an overview of a strategy and plan in his White Paper.

Times Article Viewed: 21104
Originally published: 11 Mar 2014

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