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Meeting 21st Century Imperatives with 20th Century Infrastructure Systems

The 20th century was one of unprecedented economic growth and improved quality of life for Americans. As the nation’s population more than tripled, from 76 million in 1900 to 281 million in 2000 (U.S. DOC, 2008), huge investments were made to build the critical infrastructure systems required to meet a range of social, economic, and political imperatives. Water and wastewater systems were built to support population growth, industrial growth, and public health. Power systems were built to heat and light homes, schools, and businesses and to energize communications and factories. Roads, railroads, and airports were built to support mobility and commerce. And telecommunications systems were built to provide connectivity within neighborhoods and across the world.

In the 21st century, critical infrastructure systems will play an essential role in meeting other urgent national needs or imperatives, including the following:

  • Remaining economically competitive with the European Union, China, India, and other economic powers;

  • Reducing U.S. dependence on imported oil;

  • Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions linked to global climate change;

  • Protecting the environment and conserving increasingly scarce natural resources, including potable water; and



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2 Meeting 21st Century I mperatives with 20th Century I nfrastructure Systems The 20th century was one of unprecedented economic growth and improved quality of life for Americans. As the nation’s popu- lation more than tripled, from 76 million in 1900 to 281 million in 2000 (U.S. DOC, 2008), huge investments were made to build the critical infrastructure systems required to meet a range of social, economic, and political imperatives. Water and wastewater sys- tems were built to support population growth, industrial growth, and public health. Power systems were built to heat and light homes, schools, and businesses and to energize communications and factories. Roads, railroads, and airports were built to support mobility and commerce. And telecommunications systems were built to provide connectivity within neighborhoods and across the world. In the 21st century, critical infrastructure systems will play an essential role in meeting other urgent national needs or impera- tives, including the following: • Remaining economically competitive with the European Union, China, India, and other economic powers; • Reducing U.S. dependence on imported oil; • Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions linked to global climate change; • Protecting the environment and conserving increasingly scarce natural resources, including potable water; and 

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• Developing the capacity to withstand and recover quickly from natural and human-made disasters. The links between critical infrastructure systems and these 21st century imperatives are not always obvious. However, they are real and significant. ECONOMIC COMPEtItIVENESS Throughout much of the 20th century, the United States was the global economic leader, and it remains so today. However, new technologies, political changes, and other factors have led to greater economic competition among nations, new production centers, and new trading patterns, all of which have implications for U.S. competitiveness in the future. The Internet and other technologies have changed the structure of businesses and the location of production centers around the world (Mongelluzzo, 2008). The development of “megaships” for transporting con- tainerized goods, implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and other major factors are chang- ing trading patterns among nations. The fall of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the emergence of the European Union, China, and India as economic powers have resulted in greater wealth and consumer demand throughout the world (Gallis, 2008). For the United States, international trade (imports and exports) increased yearly between 1997 and 2005 as a proportion of the gross domestic product, a trend that is projected to continue through 2030 (Figure 2.1). A key enabler of global trade is the “increasingly complex just-in-time supply chain logistics system, which depends, in turn, on reliable power, mobility, and water” (Doshi et al., 2007, p. 4). Critical infrastructure systems, in fact, provide the founda- tion for producing and moving goods and services to seaports, airports, and shipping terminals for export to other countries. The primarily east-west configuration of the nation’s high- ways, railways, and shipping terminals reflects the trading pat- terns of the 20th century. Food, vehicles, and other goods were primarily produced in the center of the country and transported to major cities on the East, West, and Gulf Coasts for domestic consumption and for shipment to Europe and Asia.  SUSTAINABLE CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEMS

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25 70 Real GDP (left axis) 60 Imports & Exports as % GDP Real GDP (Trillions of $) 20 (right axis) 50 Percent of GDP 15 40 30 10 20 5 10 0 0 1997 2005 2013 2021 2029 Year FIGURE .  Sum of imports and exports compared with U.S. gross domestic product  (GDP) as projected through 2030. SOURCE: TRB (2006). Figure 2-1.eps fully editable copied from original source (TRB) As new economic powers emerge, global trading patterns are changing. New ports are developing along the west coast of Mexico from which goods are shipped north to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle by ground and to Chicago, Detroit, and Toronto by air (Gallis, 2008). On the East Coast, goods are being transported from Halifax in Canada south to New York and the Gulf Coast. Canada and Mexico also supply a significant portion of the petroleum used in the United States. Trade routes from Southeast Asia across the Indian Ocean, into the Red Sea, and across the Mediterranean Sea mean that Asian goods can be directly delivered in containers to East Coast cities in the United States instead of being shipped to the West Coast and transported across the country (Gallis, 2008). The expansion of the Panama Canal by 2014 to accommodate megaships will allow Asian goods more direct access to East Coast ports (Mongelluzzo, 2008) (Figure 2.2).  MEETING ST CENTURY IMPERATIVES WITh 0Th CENTURY SYSTEMS

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FIGURE .  The changing global economy is changing shipping patterns. SOURCE:  Gallis (2008). Figure 2-2.eps bitmapped image not editable The primarily east-west configuration of U.S. critical infra- structure systems does not reflect the north-south trade patterns with Canada and Mexico. Increased trade following the adop- tion of NAFTA, combined with new security requirements, “has caused significant congestion and cost increases at border cross- ings with Mexico and Canada and on corridors serving NAFTA markets” (TRB, 2006, pp. 2-3). A separate but related issue is that “West Coast ports may be unable to handle the staggering pro- jected growth in Asian trade over the next 20 years—even with significant increases in port productivity—because of landside constraints on rail and highway systems” (TRB, 2006, p. 2). To improve their competitiveness, other economic powers have developed integrated strategies for economic growth that include infrastructure as a key component. In 1986, the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China launched a national high-technology research and development plan “to meet the global challenges of new technology revolution and competition” (MSTPRC, 2006). The program is now in its 10th Five-Year Plan period. The European Union Treaty “obliges  SUSTAINABLE CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEMS

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the Community to contribute to the organization and develop- ment of Trans-European Networks (TENs) in the areas of trans- port, telecommunications and energy supply infrastructure . . . to serve the objectives of a smooth functioning Single Market . . .” (EC, 1999, p. 14). The United States, in contrast, does not have a strategy to link its infrastructure to its global competitiveness. Domestically, congested highways, airports, and shipping terminals also impede the efficient movement of raw materials, meat, produce, and durable goods destined for local and regional markets. It has been estimated that highway congestion costs Americans approximately $65 billion per year (2005 dollars) and wastes 2.3 billion gallons of gasoline (TRB, 2006). The additional costs incurred by such congestion increase the costs of food, fuel, and other commodities for every consumer. If the United States is to remain as economically competitive as possible, more efficient methods to transport goods and services and additional corridors may be needed. New corridors or infrastructure components in turn could have significant environmental and land use impacts unless they are fully evaluated and carefully planned. REDUCING U.S. DEPENDENCE ON IMPORtED OIL While 42 percent of the petroleum used in the United States comes from domestic sources, 58 percent is imported (EIA, 2008a). The majority of imported oil comes from Canada (18 per- cent), the Persian Gulf countries (16 percent), Mexico (11 percent), Venezuela (10 percent), and Nigeria (8 percent) (EIA, 2008a). Some of these countries are politically unstable, and transporting supplies to market involves vulnerable points that are subject to disruption (NRC, 2008a). With demand for energy increasing around the world in combination with limited supplies of oil, prices for petroleum are likely to rise over the long term. Decreas- ing the nation’s dependence on imported oil has implications for national security as well as for consumers’ pocketbooks. Reducing the level of imported petroleum will depend in part on strategies to reduce overall demand (for example, by means of more fuel-efficient cars and greater reliance on public transportation); on whether the United States is able to efficiently generate, store, distribute, and use power from domestically available, alternative sources of energy; and on other measures.  MEETING ST CENTURY IMPERATIVES WITh 0Th CENTURY SYSTEMS

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Opportunities exist to produce power from wind, the Sun, hydrogen, and other sources of energy. The construction of new infrastructure—microgeneration facilities, power plants, and dis- tribution networks—may be required. Some alternative energy power projects have been developed—such as those converting the methane gas produced by landfills to energy—and many have been proposed. However, they are being implemented on a case-by-case basis in the absence of an overarching strategy. A range of demand-side and supply-side strategies are avail- able that could lead to a reduction in the national demand for imported oil. Each brings with it a host of implications for future development and future generations. Any pursuit of narrowly focused objectives and one-dimensional strategies, however, could lead to serious, unintended consequences. For example, the focus on producing ethanol derived from corn kernels as a biofuel to reduce the demand for imported oil has had unfore- seen impacts on the cost of corn for food products and has not fully taken into account the impacts on water availability, water quality (NRC, 2008c), and other factors. Ad hoc development of new infrastructure systems could lead to redundancies in some areas, a lack of service in others, the waste of valuable resources, and adverse environmental impacts. To the extent that new systems or components of systems are developed, they will require substantial public- and private- sector investments. Typically, major infrastructure projects take 10 to 20 years or more to plan, approve, obtain needed permits, fund, and build. Even with the careful planning, design, and siting that promise to mitigate environmental impacts, local opposition is likely to arise, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as NIMBYism (for “not in my backyard”). Coordinated action across political jurisdictions and stakeholder groups as well as broad public support will be needed to develop cost-effective infrastructure systems required to deliver energy from alterna- tive sources in the next 10 to 20 years. Coordinated action will be difficult to achieve in the absence of an overarching concept or objectives for critical infrastructure systems. G L O B a L C L I M at E C H a N G E Scientists predict that global climate change—higher temper- atures and extremes of precipitation—will result in more extreme  SUSTAINABLE CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEMS

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instances of drought and flooding, as well as tropical storms of increased intensity and rising sea levels (NRC, 2008b). These changes will profoundly affect agriculture and forest productiv- ity, ecosystems, water, and other resources, which will in turn affect societies and communities. If current weather trends con- tinue as predicted, rising sea levels and greater storm surges will have significant consequences for shipping ports, terminals, and the infrastructure systems of some of the country’s largest cities1 and other coastal communities (NRC, 2008b). In large portions of the country, more-intense, longer-lasting droughts will affect the availability of water for drinking, irrigation, fire suppression, and sanitation. Record levels of precipitation, in contrast, will result in more instances of flooding, land erosion, and the undermining of roads and other infrastructure systems. Greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other gases) are a factor in higher temperatures. These emissions are produced by the burning of fossil fuels, including oil, natural gas, and coal; by wastewater treatment plants; by the production of cement and other materials; and by other human activities. Electric power and transportation alone accounted for more than 50 percent of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emis- sions in 2007 (EIA, 2008b). Water resources and systems will also be affected by climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):2 Climate change affects the function and operation of existing water infrastructure—including hydropower, structural flood defences [sic], drainage and irrigation systems—as well as water management practices. . . . Current water management practices may not be robust enough to cope with the impacts of climate change on water supply reliability, flood risk, health, agriculture, energy, and aquatic ecosystems. . . . Adaptation options designed to ensure water supply during average and drought conditions require integrated demand-side as well as supply-side strategies (Bates et al., 2008, p. 4). On the East Coast: New York City, Jacksonville, Florida, and Baltimore, 1 Maryland; on the West Coast: Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, and Seattle, Washington; and on the Gulf Coast: Houston, Texas. The IPCC is a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteo- 2 rological Organization and by the United Nations Environment Programme. Additional information about this organization is available at http://www. ipcc.ch/. Accessed February 12, 2009.  MEETING ST CENTURY IMPERATIVES WITh 0Th CENTURY SYSTEMS

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The western United States is one of the areas of the world that is “particularly exposed to the impacts of climate change” and is “projected to suffer a decrease of water resources” (Bates et al., 2008, p. 3). Demand-side strategies for mitigating these impacts could include both greater efficiency of water use through recycling and greater conservation through metering and pricing. Supply-side strategies would generally involve increases in storage capacity, desalinization of nonpotable water, or other measures that may require new infrastructure systems and components (Bates et al., 2008). If the United States is to reduce its greenhouse gas emis- sions significantly, power and mobility will need to be provided through new methods, technologies, and materials. The reduc- tion of greenhouse gases could potentially also help reduce the impacts of climate change on water resources. Even so, new infrastructure for water systems may be needed to ensure that future supplies are adequate to meet demand. While these challenges are great, continuing to provide water, power, and mobility as was done in the 20th century presents a substantial obstacle to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and the higher temperatures and extremes of precipitation associated with global climate change. E N V I R O N M E N ta L S U S ta I N a B I L I t Y For much of the 20th century, relatively little attention was given to the effects of the built environment, including critical infrastructure systems, on the natural environment—oceans, rivers, lakes, ecosystems, raw materials, the air, the soil, and the land. As infrastructure systems were built, much of the country was developed, great swathes of forest and land were cleared, rivers were controlled and channeled, and renewable and non- renewable natural resources were harvested, extracted, and productively used. The publication in 1987 of Our Common Future by the United Nations’ World Commission on Environment and Development, commonly called the Bruntland Commission, called worldwide attention to the issue of sustainable development. Sustainable development was defined as follows: 0 SUSTAINABLE CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEMS

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a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations. (UN, 1987, Chapter 2) Environmental sustainability—the regeneration of ecosys- tems and the judicious use of water, land, and other natural resources now and for the future—has become an urgent need of the 21st century. The processes and materials used to renew existing critical infrastructure systems or to create new compo- nents or systems will be significant factors in meeting or failing to meet this imperative. DISaStER RESILIENCY Communities and individuals require essential services in order to learn about, react to, and recover from natural or human- made disasters—earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, terrorism, or accidents. Critical infrastructure systems provide crucial services, including clean water for drinking and for the protection of public health; mobility for the evacuation and repopulation of communities; connectivity for emergency com- munications and response; and power for hospitals, for safety, security, and incident management, for cooking and refrigerating food, and for the continuity of government operations before, during, and after an event. The condition and performance of these infrastructure systems help determine how effectively a community can react in times of crisis. Critical infrastructure systems that are robust and resilient, as opposed to deteriorating, can also mitigate the effects of a disaster by limiting deaths and injuries, property losses, impacts on ecosystems (for example, uncontrolled discharge of waste), and the time it takes for a com- munity to recover. In summary, the materials, technologies, and methods chosen to renew critical infrastructure systems will be a determining fac- tor in whether the nation will be able to meet some of the greatest challenges of the 21st century.  MEETING ST CENTURY IMPERATIVES WITh 0Th CENTURY SYSTEMS

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