are taken for granted. Today, Americans expect reliable power, clean drinking water, uncomplicated travel, and easy communications. Businesses and industries rely on infrastructure systems to transport raw materials, manufacture products, deliver goods, share ideas, and conduct transactions. The demands on these critical systems will continue to grow: By 2030, 60 million more Americans, in addition to new businesses and employers, will expect these systems to deliver essential services (U.S. DOC, 2008).

The quality of life for Americans in the 21st century will depend in part on whether the nation’s critical infrastructure systems can meet such expectations. At the same time, other national challenges that will affect quality of life include, but are not limited to, 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

  • Developing the capacity to withstand and recover quickly from natural and human-made disasters.2

Meeting these challenges requires critical infrastructure systems that are efficient, reliable, and cost-effective. If the United States is to remain a global economic leader, new methods and corridors will be needed to move goods and services efficiently to and from domestic and international markets, including Canada and Mexico. Reducing petroleum imports will require strategies to reduce demand and may require new infrastructure—microgeneration facilities, power plants, and distribution networks—for the efficient generation, storage, distribution, and use of power from alternative sources of energy.

Today, electric power and transportation account for 40 percent and 29 percent, respectively, of the nation’s total annual energy use, and together they account for more than 50 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions linked to global climate change (EIA, 2008b). Significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions


Imperatives besides those listed include health care and the solvency of the Social Security system.

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