Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Cutting Edge Technologies Power Cincinnati Industries – Part 1

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

During the first day of my visit to Cincinnati, Ohio November 1st – 4th, I had the pleasure of meeting with key personnel from the Intelligent Maintenance System Center (IMS) at the University of Cincinnati:  Dr. Hossein Davari – IMS Center Post-Doctoral Fellow, Patrick Brown – IMS Center Program Director, Chao Jin – IMS Center Graduate Researcher, and Michael Lyons – IMS Center Program Coordinator.

Prior to my visit I had been provided with background information on how the University of Cincinnati evolved into what it is today:  “The Ohio Mechanics Institute (OMI), parent name of the College of Applied Science, was founded in 1828 as a private educational institution and the first school west of the Alleghenies dedicated to technical education.” This struck me because this was about the same time as the Lowell Machine Shop in Lowell, MA first started producing interchangeable parts for firearms sold to the Springfield Armory. I did not realize that Cincinnati was industrialized so early in the Industrial Revolution period.

“OMI operated exclusively as an evening college until 1901 when day courses on a pre-college level were added. In 1919 the day courses were revised into collegiate programs…In 1958 the college designated separate names for its day and evening operations, the day school became the Ohio College of Applied Science (OCAS) and the evening school was named the Ohio Mechanics Institute Evening College (OMIEC). The college merged with the University of Cincinnati in 1969 and offered programs in the engineering technologies and related areas with the aim of preparing individuals for careers as engineering technologists, engineering technicians, and managers in industry. The college began offering bachelor’s degrees in the early 70s. The name of the college was changed in 1978 to the OMI College of Applied Science and was shortened to the College of Applied Science in 2000.

In 2009, the UC Board of Trustees approved the creation of the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS)… [to integrate] two predecessor colleges —The College of Engineering and The College of Applied Science… During the late 50s…advanced studies in engineering and research became the focus…to strengthen the college’s focus on graduate education. A joint project with the Engineer’s Council for Professional Development (ECPD), and local industry provided opportunities for young professional engineers to pursue graduate degrees without leaving their jobs. Both colleges and the City of Cincinnati have shared long and productive partnerships…through cooperative education assignments, research funding and graduate placement…”

Dr. Davari told me that the “IMS Center is a leading NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) that consists of the University of Cincinnati, the University of Michigan and Missouri University of Science & Technology.”

He said, “The Center has over twelve years of experience in developing and delivering Prognostics and Health Management (PHM) solutions for a wide-range of applications. The IMS Center’s mission is to enable products and systems to achieve and sustain near-zero breakdown performance, and transform maintenance data to useful information for improved productivity and asset life-cycle utilization. Since its inception in 2001, the Center has conducted over 100 successful industry and NSF supported projects, and has attracted over 80 members from all across the globe. The IMS Center was recently identified as the most economically impactful I/UCRC in NSF’s recent study titled Measuring the Economic Impacts of the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers Program: A Feasibility Study. According to this study, the Center delivered its members $846.7 million in combined benefits over the last ten years.”

Dr. Davari explained the work of their Masters in Science and PhD students, “Graduate students in the IMS Center focus on developing innovative technologies and tools for health assessment, degradation monitoring and prognostics of machinery. Graduate students work both towards conducting fundamental research along with developing specific tools to address the needs of the industry. Graduate students get the opportunity to work closely with industry members ranging from manufacturing to energy and transportation applications. With a unique set of skills and experience in the field of Prognostics and Health Management (PHM), they continue to develop innovative tools and technologies and bring value to both industry and academia. The IMS Center researchers have also won the PHM Society Data Challenge five times since 2008. It is an annual competition organized by the PHM society and is open to researchers in academia and industry worldwide.”

Dr. Davari stated, “In 2012, National Instruments awarded the Prognostics Innovation Award to IMS Center for the development of Watchdog Agent Prognostics toolkit. Watchdog Agent consists of a set of algorithms and tools developed for degradation assessment and failure prediction of machinery and processes. The toolbox has been implemented in various industrial applications and has been commercialized by National Instruments as an additional toolbox for the LabVIEW software package.

I told him I could see how important preventing failure is healthcare because a failure could result in serious harm to a patient and even be fatal. When I asked him to explain what a “Digital Twin is, he said, “It is a digital representation of the physical system, generated by data-driven and physics-based models. IMS Center has developed a Cyber-physical Interface, through which the data is being collected from a machine continuously. This data is then processed and converted to machine health information using tools in Watchdog Agent toolbox. This health information is used to make informed decisions for optimum maintenance and near-zero breakdowns. It also continuously seeks for possible variations in the machine performance and provides insight into the current performance of the machine compared to its past performance, or its peers doing the same job. Digital twin basically connects the physical world to cyber world for improved visibility and transparency in machine operation.” He later forwarded me a link to a video describing IMS technologies.

Next we visited the Ceramic Matrix Composite Laboratory at GE Aviation and met with Jon Blank, Composite Matrix & Advanced Composite Section Leader, and Perry Bradley, Communications Leader, GE Aviation, followed by a tour of the lab.

From the material I was provided in advance, I learned that advancing the use of ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) has challenged industry for decades. In my day job as a manufacturers’ sales rep for fabrication companies, I had represented a company doing ceramic injection molding and a company making pre-preg layup composite parts for airline interiors in the 1990s. I was aware of the ultra-lightweight and super-heat-resistant properties of CMCs and knew that companies were investing millions to try to win the race to mass-produce this engineered material.

We first toured the Leaning Center where all the engine models GE has produced were on display. It was inspiring to me to see that advancements in technology incorporated into these successive generations of engines. Since I have previously represented companies that produced forgings and investment castings, I understood how advances in metals technology, particularly the use of Titanium, had reduced weight and improved the efficiency of engines. Since Solar Turbines in San Diego was one of my customers, I was aware of their work in the development of using ceramic molded parts in small turbine engines. However, when I saw the complexity of shape and size of the CMC turbine blades that GE Aviation is now making, it was astonishing.

Mr. Blank told me that “For more than 20 years, GE scientists in the U.S. and worldwide have worked to develop CMCs as a differentiating technology in large gas turbines for power generation, and in jet engines for commercial and military jet planes. Now their big bet is paying off as GE leads the charge to industrialize CMCs for large engine applications. GE leads the world in introducing CMCs into the hot section of jet engines and gas turbines and is creating the vertically-integrated supply chain necessary to mass produce CMC components.”

He explained why CMCs are critical to advancing the jet propulsion and power generation industries. “Components made of CMCs allow gas turbines and jet engines to run hotter, and thus more efficient. Ultra-lightweight CMCs also reduce weight throughout the engine, leading to higher fuel efficiency. CMCs in gas turbines and jet engines contribute to lower emissions and improved environmental performance. They create a significant economic advantage. CMCs are made of silicon carbide ceramic fibers and ceramic resin, manufactured through a highly sophisticated process, and further enhanced with proprietary coatings. They are one-third the density of metal alloys and one-third the weight.”

He continued, “CMCs are more durable and heat resistant than metal alloys, allowing the diversion of less cooling air into the engine’s hot section, and thereby improving overall engine efficiency. By using the cooling air instead in the engine flow path, the engine can run more efficiently at higher thrust. The average rate of technology progress for turbine engine material temperature capability increased 50 degrees per decade. With the use of CMCs, GE will now increase the temperature by 150 degrees in this decade, 3x the traditional rate. The benefits of CMCs are a 10% thrust increase and increased temperature using 2400F CMCs.”

He said, “In 2009, GE Aviation ran the first CMCs in the hot section of the F136 military engine. The CMCs were structural shrouds that direct air in the high-pressure turbine section, the hottest area of the engine. The results encouraged us to pursue CMC components with its next-generation commercial jet engines. GE worked to expand its overall CMC production capability. In 2012, Nippon Carbon (NCK) of Japan, a producer of composite fibers, formed a joint venture with GE (25% ownership) and Snecma (25%) called NGS Advanced Fibers, which produces fibers for CMC components such as the CMC shrouds. The next year later, GE Aviation expanded CMC “lean lab” operations in Delaware to develop new CMC components and the plant in Asheville, North Carolina was selected as factory to mass produce CMC components. Their lab was established in 2014, and in 2015, the Huntsville, Alabama factory was selected to produce CMC building-block materials [fiber and tape.]”

As we toured the lab and watched a couple of parts being made, he said “We have now established a fully-integrated CMC supply chain in the U.S. involving CMC raw material production in Huntsville, research and low-volume production here in Cincinnati, the CMC Lean Lab in Delaware, and CMC mass production in Asheville.”

Mr. Bradley said, “The LEAP engine for narrow-body aircraft will enter airline service in 2016 with CMC shrouds [18 shrouds per engine] in the high-pressure turbine section. This is being developed by CFM International, which is a 50/50 joint company of GE and Snecma of France. By the end of the decade, GE will introduce the GE9X engine for the new Boeing 777X under development. This engine will also feature CMC components in both the combustor [inner and outer liner] and high-pressure turbine sections [stage 1 and 2 nozzles, and stage 1 shrouds]. ”

He also said, “GE Aviation continues to run an advanced military engine through the U.S. government-sponsored ADVENT program with CMCs in the combustor and turbine sections – demonstrating the highest core temperatures in jet propulsion history. In 2014, GE Aviation successfully ran CMC turbine blades – a high-speed rotating part – in a F414 military demonstrator. This is a huge breakthrough for GE in pursuing the use of CMC in rotating parts because up to now, CMCs have been limited to static parts in an engine.”

Mr. Blank concluded, “This is all part of GE Aviation’s continuing efforts to further mature CMC technology for future commercial and military engines. The demand for CMCs is expected to grow tenfold over the next decade.”

We ended day one with a meeting with the directors of several accelerators/incubators and a few entrepreneurs in these programs in the region, which I will cover in a future article. I already covered meetings I had with key leaders in my first article last week on “Cincinnati focuses on Re-industrialization to Create Prosperity. Part two of this article will cover the companies I visited on day two of my visit.

Why are there so few states with “Bottle Bill” laws?

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

American consumers have increasingly favored recycling to benefit their community and the environment. Recycling is defined as the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. One of the best ways to promote recycling is with “bottle bills,” which is another way of saying “container deposit laws.” A container deposit law requires a minimum refundable deposit on beer, soft drink and other beverage containers in order to ensure a high rate of recycling or reuse. After learning that only ten states have container deposit laws, I decided to investigate why this is the case.

I am sure that everyone would agree with the following benefits of recycling cited by the Environment Protection Agency’s website:

  • Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators;
  • Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals;
  • Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials;
  • Saves energy;
  • Helps create new well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries in the United States.

The three steps to recycling materials listed on the website seem simple:

  • Step 1: Collection and Processing – Recyclables are collected by curbside collection, drop-off centers, and deposit or refund programs. Next, “recyclables are sent to a recovery facility to be sorted, cleaned, and processed into materials that can be used in manufacturing. Recyclables are bought and sold just like raw materials would be, and prices go up and down depending on supply and demand in the United States and the world.”

The one hitch in these steps is that it takes enough recyclable material to make it profitable to manufacture products out of recycled material or make new products that utilize recycled content, such as carpeting, park benches, and even asphalt. The question is do we have enough recycled material to make the clear water bottles that could be endlessly recycled?

When you think of all of the trillions of clear water bottles purchased in the U. S. by American consumers, you would think that there would be more than enough material to keep making water bottles out of recycled material without having to use any virgin material. However, since there are only 10 states with bottle deposit laws, this is not the case. These states are: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont. Oregon was the first state to successfully pass a bottle deposit law in 1971, Vermont was the second state to pass a bottle deposit law in 1973, and Hawaii was the most recent in 2002. Most of the other states passed laws in the 1980s. Delaware passed a law in 1982, but it was repealed in 2009. The deposit is 5 cents for every state except Michigan, where it is 10 cents.

Tennessee proposed a bottle bill in 2009 and 2010 that failed to pass even though ten county commissions voted to endorse the bill. It would have required a five-cent deposit on beverage containers. The recycling rate in Tennessee is 10 percent, which was projected to increase to 80 percent with a bottle bill. Discarded bottles and cans are the primary contributor to litter in Tennessee.

Texas attempted to introduce a bottle bill (SB 635) into legislation in 2011, but lost by a vote of 101 to 40. It would have required a ten-cent deposit on beverage containers under 24 fl. oz. and 15 cents for larger containers. Recycling promoters filled a new bill in 2013, SB 645, but it was left pending in subcommittee on 4/22/2013. Two new bills have been introduced in Texas in the 2015 legislative cycle ? HB 2425 Regarding Refundable Deposits and SB 1450 Calling for Refundable Deposits.

Why is there so much opposition to bottle bills?

According to the Institute, “Bottle bill opponents include beverage container manufacturers, soft drink bottlers, beer, wine and liquor distributors and retail grocers. As ‘new age’ drink containers are targeted for inclusion in existing bottle bills, juice, sports drink and bottled water manufacturers have joined the anti-bottle bill forces…”

Major opponents of bottle bills are:

  • Anheuser Busch
  • The Coca Cola Company
  • Pepsi-Cola Company
  • Can Manufacturers Institute
  • Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
  • Food Marketing Institute
  • International Bottled Water Association
  • National Beer Wholesalers Association
  • Grocery Manufacturers Association
  • National Food Processors Association
  • National Grocers Association
  • American Beverage Association

The Container Recycling Institute claims that these companies and organizations have spent huge sums of money “to defeat ballot initiatives over the past twenty years, with industry opponents outspending proponents by as much as 30:1.”

During the last three years the three leading container trade groups (Aluminum Association, the Glass Packaging Institute, and the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers) have changed their position and now support bottle bills because of the success of existing bottle bills.

What are the reasons given for opposing bottle bills? The Container Recycling Institute lists the following reasons on a page titled Myths and Facts:

  • Deposits aren’t needed where there is curbside recycling.
  • Deposit systems target only a small part of the waste stream (less than 3% of municipal solid waste (MSW) by weight).
  • Deposit systems address a small portion of litter: 7 to 25 percent.
  • Deposit return is inconvenient (consumers prefer home curbside bins).
  • Deposits rob curbside programs of valuable aluminum can revenue.
  • Deposits are more expensive than other recycling programs.
  • Deposit returns are expensive for distributors.
  • Deposits are a tax” and increase the price of beverages.

I live in California, which is one of the bottle bill states, and we also have curbside recycling in the city of San Diego. I prefer to separate out the containers for which I paid a deposit and take them to a recycling center to get my deposit money back. In the major cities of California, stores do not take the bottles back. You can take them to recycling centers conveniently located in the parking lots of neighborhood shopping centers or to municipal waste management landfills where privately owned recycling centers are located.

I do not understand how anyone could consider a deposit fee a “tax” because it is refunded. None of the sales taxes I pay are ever refunded to me. Also, under container deposit systems, the cost of recycling is borne by producers and consumers, not by government and taxpayers as is the case for curbside recycling programs.

The Container Recycling Institute says that beverage containers comprise 40-60% of litter. Because of the bottle deposit law in California, you rarely see any bottles as litter. Homeless and poor people pick up all of the bottles that could be litter on streets and sidewalks to turn them in to get the deposit money. States that have bottle bills “showed reductions in beverage container litter ranging from 69% to 84%.”

In January 2015, a report was released, “Waste and Opportunity 2015: Environmental Progress and Challenges in Food, Beverage, and Consumer Goods Packaging” by Conrad B. MacKerron, Senior Vice President of As You Sow, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing environmental and social corporate responsibility. The Project Editor was Darby Hoover, Senior Resource Specialist of The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists.

The report revealed that “With an overall recycling rate of 34.5 percent and an estimated packaging recycling rate of 51 percent, the United States lags behind many other developed countries.” With regard to beverage recycling, the report states, “Major beverage companies like Coca-Cola, Nestlé Waters NA, and PepsiCo are taking positive individual actions to boost bottle and can recycling. Still, most brands support neither a container deposit nor an EPR (extended producer responsibility) scheme to boost recycling—two proven ways to increase container recycling.”

With regard to beverage containers, PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) is the material most frequently used and thus is “currently the most recycled plastic material, yet only 30 percent of PET bottles are recycled. But since 94 percent of the U.S. population has access to PET collection, there is much more PET that could be recovered. “High demand and limited supply for recycled PET (rPET) demonstrates the economic potential of increasing recycling rates if materials can be recovered without significant contamination.” However, “U.S. reclaimers reported average yield losses of 31 percent for PET bales from curbside programs and 25 percent for bales from deposit programs” due to contamination by other recycled materials.” The report recommended expanding the use of PET to other types of packaging such as clamshell food containers to increase the supply of rPET.

One good reason to expand container deposit laws is stated in the report: “Recycling also helps create new, well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries. The firms that process metals, paper, electronics, rubber, plastic, glass, and textiles represent 137,000 direct jobs and $32 billion in revenue. When suppliers and indirect impact are factored in, the industry supports nearly half a million jobs and generates a total of $90 billion annually in economic activity. If we increased the U.S. national recycling rate to 75 percent by 2030, we would generate nearly 1.5 million new jobs.”

Other key findings of the report were:

  • Up to 50% of the U.S. population may lack convenient access to curbside recycling for commonly recycled materials like bottles, cans, and newspapers.
  • Companies are required to pay for collection of materials in Europe, Canada, and other markets, but fight accepting that responsibility in the U.S.
  • Many companies also fight container deposit legislation – the most successfully demonstrated method to increase recycling rates, yet only operating in 10 states.

I agree with one of the recommendations of the report: “Increasing our ability to recycle packaging successfully will lead us closer to developing a circular economy in which raw materials are captured and processed to re-enter commerce many times over, thus increasing resource efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our reliance on nonrenewable natural resources.”

Since clear PET plastic bottles can be recycled nearly endlessly, one of the best ways to accomplish this is to pass bottle bills in more states in the U. S., so we can increase the domestic supply of recycled PET. We also need to pass legislation to keep recyclers from selling the PET containers to China so that American companies like Plastic Technologies Inc. won’t have to buy recycled PET from other countries.

How do Obama and Romney Stand on Issues Affecting Manufacturing?

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Both President Obama and Governor Romney have put the manufacturing industry as the cornerstone of their plans to strengthen the U.S. economy and revitalize business activity. How would their differing plans affect manufacturers, and which would provide the most benefits to the manufacturing industry?

Government has the most impact on the manufacturing industry with regard to its tax, regulation, energy, and trade policies, but budget priorities of an administration also have a powerful effect for the good or the bad. We will use these policies and priorities to compare the plans of President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. Governor Romney’s plan is extracted from his “Believe in America – Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth” available on his website. President Obama’s plan is derived from his record and his “Blueprint for an America Built to Last,” released by the White House on January 24, 2012.

Taxes:  The more taxes a business pays, the less money a business has to grow the company, buy equipment, conduct R&D, expand into new markets, and hire more workers.

President Obama’s plans include:

  • Reduce overall corporate rate to 28 percent with an even deeper cut to an effective tax rate of 25 percent for corporations manufacturing in the U. S.
  • End tax breaks for outsourcing and provide a 20 percent tax credit for expenses of moving manufacturing operations back to America
  • Expand, simplify, and make permanent the R&D tax credit
  • Extend the 30 percent-Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit for clean energy manufacturing projects
  • Introduce a new Manufacturing Communities Tax Credit to encourage investments in communities affected by job loss
  • Reauthorize 100% expensing of investment in plants and equipment

Governor Romney’s proposal includes:

  • Reduce the overall corporate tax rate to 25 percent
  • Make permanent the R&D tax credit
  • Reduce the top individual tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent since most small businesses pay taxes at the individual level, not corporate taxes
  • Eliminate the Death Tax
  • Pursue a Fairer, Flatter, Simpler Tax Structure

Taxes on corporations and individuals will increase January 1, 2013 when the current tax rates that have been in effect for 11 years expire (referred to as the Bush tax cuts) and return to the higher rates in effect under President Clinton. There are additional taxes that will go into effect at the same time as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

As Governor of Massachusetts from 2003-2007, Mitt Romney closed a $1.3 billion state budget deficit in 2004 without raising taxes by using a combination of funding cuts, fee increases, collection of more business taxes from eliminating tax loopholes, and drawing from the state’s “rainy day fund.”

Regulations:  Regulations function as a hidden tax on manufacturers. A multitude of rules, restrictions, mandates, and directives impose stealth expenses on businesses and acts like a brake on the economy at large. The federal Office of Management and Budget own study places the annual cost of regulation on the economy at $1.75 trillion, which is nearly double the total of all individual and corporate income taxes.

President Obama’s record:

  • The Federal Register’s compendium of new rules and regulations hit a record in 2010 of 81,405 pages with a projected annual cost of compliance of $26 billion.
  • In one month alone, July 2011, the Obama administration issued 229 proposed rules, 379 final rules, and 10 economically significant rules—totaling more than $9 billion in regulatory costs.
  • The over 2,000-page Dodd-Frank Act mandates 259 rules and suggests another 188.
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) may generate up to 10,000 pages of regulations to implement.
  • The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 produced federal restrictions on credit card companies that have led to higher interest rates, higher annual fees, and lower credit limits.

Governor Romney’s proposal:

  • Issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers for all 50 states and work with Congress to accomplish full repeal
  • Seek to repeal Dodd-Frank and replace it with a streamlined regulatory framework
  • Eliminate the regulations promulgated in pursuit of the Obama administration’s costly and ineffective anti-carbon agenda
  • Press Congress to reform our environmental laws and to ensure that they allow for a proper assessment of their costs
  • Order all federal agencies to initiate repeal of any regulations issued by the Obama administration that unduly burden the economy or job creation
  • Impose a regulatory cap that forces agencies to recognize and limit these costs
  • Restore a greater degree of congressional control over the agency rulemaking process

Trade: The U. S. had an overall trade deficit of $558 billion in 2011, but our deficit with China was $295.5 billion, and the combined deficit with Canada and Mexico rose to a combined $185 billion of the total. In fact, we have a trade deficit with 66 countries. Both President Obama and Governor Romney support current trade agreements and propose additional agreements.

President Obama – As a candidate in 2007 and 2008, he said, “there’s no doubt that NAFTA needs to be amended,” in December 2007 at the Des Moines Register debate, and at a June 2008 speech in Flint, MI, he said,” If we continue to let our trade policy be dictated by special interests, then American workers will continue to be undermined, and public support for robust trade will continue to erode.”

But as president, he pushed hard for passage of the trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama, which were passed and signed in October 2011, all drafted on the NAFTA template. He has instructed his team at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to spearhead the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement involving nine Pacific region nations, including Vietnam and Brunei, two undemocratic countries with serious and well-documented human and labor rights problems.

Unlike his predecessors, he has imposed tariffs on imported Chinese products that have been determined to be “dumping, such as the 2009 tariff on imported Chinese tires, and the recent Commerce Department final determination of anti-dumping duties from just over 31 percent up to 250 percent on photovoltaic solar cells, and anti-subsidy duties of up to more than 15 percent were also recommended.

His Blueprint states that he will:

  • Create a new trade enforcement unit that will bring together resources and investigators from across the Federal Government to go after unfair trade practices in countries around the world, including China
  • Enhance trade inspections to stop counterfeit, pirated, or unsafe goods before they enter the United States
  • Put American companies on an even footing by providing financing to put our companies on an even footing.

Governor Romney – As a candidate, he supported the free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama and also calls for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in addition to new FTAs with nations such as Brazil and India.

Romney would pursue the “formation of a ‘Reagan Economic Zone.’ This zone would codify the principles of free trade at the international level and place the issues now hindering trade in services and intellectual property, crucial to American prosperity and that of other developed nations, at the center of the discussion.”

Romney proposes to get tough with China in the following ways:

  • Impose “targeted tariffs” or economic sanctions for unfair trade practices or misappropriated American technology
  • Designate China as a currency manipulator and instruct the Commerce Department to impose countervailing duties
  • Improve enforcement at the border by allocating the necessary resources to investigate the actual point of origin for suspect products arriving on our shores
  • Impose harsher penalties on those who would circumvent our laws

Energy:  The manufacturing industry both produces and uses energy; therefore, government policies affecting energy have a major impact on the growth, development, and financial position of manufacturers. Energy policy is critical to our country’s economic future, and we have the natural resources we need to be more energy independent.

President Obama’s plan:

  • Promote safe, responsible development of the near 100-year supply of natural gas, supporting more than 600,000 jobs while ensuring public health and safety
  • Incentivize manufacturers to make energy upgrades, saving $100 billion over the next decade
  • Create clean energy jobs in the United States

President Obama’s Track Record:

  • Imposed a moratorium in 2010 on underwater drilling that eliminated more than 10,000 jobs and cost $1 billion in lost wages.
  • Delayed the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would bring enormous supplies of Canadian tar sands oil from Alberta to the U. S and create an estimated 25,000 to 100,000 American jobs.
  • Proposed a cap-and-trade system that was a complex plan for allowing industries to trade the right to emit greenhouses gases, which failed to pass Congress.
  • Under Obama, the EPA has issued a 946-page hazardous air pollutants” rule mandating “maximum achievable control technology” under the Clean Air Act, which could put 250,000 jobs in jeopardy.
  • New regulations for industrial boilers—the so-called “Boiler MACT”—may put another 800,000 jobs at risk.

Governor Romney’s proposed energy policy focuses on significant regulatory reform, support for increased production, and funding basic research instead of specific technologies, including the following:

  • Streamline and fast-track the permitting process for exploration and development of oil and gas
  • Consolidate procedures for issuing permits so that businesses have a one-stop shop for approval of common activities
  • Overhaul outdated legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other environmental laws
  • Reform the regulatory structure of the nuclear industry
  • Inventory our nation’s carbon-based energy resources
  • Explore and develop our oil reserves wherever it can be done safely, taking into account local concerns, including the Gulf of Mexico, both the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelves, Western lands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, off the Alaska coast, and the more recently discovered shale oil deposits
  • Partner with  our neighbors Canada and Mexico to develop their oil reserves
  • Pave the way for the construction of additional pipelines that can accommodate the expected growth in Canadian supply of oil and natural gas
  • Extract natural gas by means of “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing, coupled for these purposes with horizontal drilling)
  • Redirect government funding of clean energy spending towards basic research and development of new energy technologies and on initial demonstration projects that establish the feasibility of discoveries

Manufacturing has been a key driver of what limited economic recovery we have had since 2009 and will play a major role in U.S. economic success in the future if it gets the right support. On the surface, Obama and Romney seem to have roughly the same economic goals – stimulate job creation, boost American competitiveness in the global market and drive down the deficit, but as we have seen, their plans for reaching these objectives differ greatly. I urge everyone to carefully compare their plans and what they have said and done before choosing for whom to vote. Don’t waste the precious freedom to vote that our ancestors risked or gave their lives to gain.



Will Countervailing and Anti-Dumping Duties Help or Hurt America’s Solar Industry?

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

The answer to this question depends on what role you play in America’s solar industry ? manufacturer, distributor, or retail installer ? and what China will do in retaliation.

In May 2012,, a program of non-profit organization The Kearny Alliance, released a well-researched and well-documented report titled “China’s Solar Industry and the U. S. Anti-Dumping/Anti-Subsidy Trade Case. The purpose of the report is to “present a balanced, fact-based discussion of the trade case; an exploration of how China’s solar industry has grown so big so fast; and a thorough analysis of what might be the consequences – many of them likely unintended – of likely outcomes of this trade case” to encourage readers to look at the issue from new angles.

As background to the case, the report presents these facts about the global solar industry:

  • On-grid installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems grew an average of 45 percent per year on average between 2003 and 2009, driven mainly by government policies in Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, and the U.S. “These policies are designed, in one way or another, to subsidize the cost of solar power so that it is competitive with other on-grid electricity sources.”
  • Global production of solar PV systems rose dramatically in the last decade – from 371 megawatts in 2001 to more than 24 gigawatts in 2010, an increase of 6,376 percent.
  • The price of solar cells and modules started declining rapidly beginning in 2008 from about $3.30 per watt in 2008 to about $1.80 per watt at the beginning of 2011 and $1.00 per watt at the end of 2011. The price is projected to fall to $0.74 per watt by 2014.

During this time period, China’s growth in solar manufacturing was rapid. “In 2001 China produced 1 percent of the world’s solar cells and modules. By 2010 it produced nearly half. Today, four of the top 5 solar cell producers are Chinese; three of the five module producers are. Of the top fifteen solar cell manufacturers in 2010, six were Chinese companies. Two were American. Of the fifteen solar module manufacturers in 2010, eight were Chinese. One was American.”

Estimates of the cost advantage of Chinese cell and module manufacturers compared to their U.S. counterparts range from about 18 percent to 30 percent, but GTM Research analyst, Shyam Mehta, estimates the cost differential to be about 25 to 30 percent in 2012.

As a result of this loss in market share by American companies, in October 2011 an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy trade case was filed by SolarWorld Industries America, the U.S. division of German manufacturer SolarWorld AG, and six other U. S.-based solar manufacturers with the U. S. International Trade Commission and Department of Commerce to seek relief for U. S. producers injured by Chinese imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic (CSPV) products.

The report says “the stakes are high. For one thing, countervailing (anti-subsidy) duties, if high enough, could dramatically affect the solar industry in the U.S. and around the world, as could anti-dumping tariffs. There are potentially severe unintended consequences of any policy action in this case – or inaction, for that matter.”

On March 20, 2012, U.S. Department of Commerce announced its preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (anti-subsidy) investigation. Chinese companies received preliminary countervailing duties ranging from a high of 4.73 percent for Trina Solar down to 2.90 percent for Suntech Power, with all other Chinese producers at 3.61 percent.

The report states that “Chinese reaction to the preliminary countervailing duties was relatively mild. Two Chinese trade groups asked the China Ministry of Commerce (MOC) to start an investigation against U.S. into dumping and illegal subsidies. However, the Chinese reaction to the May 17th preliminary anti-dumping determination, in which the Department of Commerce found that Chinese manufacturers dumped solar cells on the U. S. market and assessed tariffs of about 31 percent, was very different.

The report states that the reactions to this case could have significant ramifications for the global solar industry and presents several potential reactions by China.

  • China could remove its subsidies and stop dumping – the precedent for this is that when the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) launched an investigation into export restraints, subsidies, and discrimination against foreign companies for imported goods by China in green technologies in October 2010, the pressure from the petition led China to remove local content requirements for wind technology.
  • Chinese manufacturers could retaliate in a number of ways against the imposed tariff, which is “why only three of the seven companies behind the petition have named themselves publicly (and two of those only after the preliminary countervailing duties were announced).”
  • Chinese manufacturers could ramp up their own production of polysilicon (which they have already begun doing) and turn to Germany and Switzerland to fill the equipment gap – effectively cutting out the U.S. firms that are still competitive in the solar supply chain.
  • Chinese firms could move cell manufacturing to Taiwan, which the authors of the report feel “could be their best solution because it would allow Chinese manufacturers to keep their upstream supply chains intact…Then, they could assemble the modules anywhere in the world ? in Taiwan, in China, in Mexico, or in the end-use country.”

According to Melanie Hart, Policy Analyst for Chinese Energy and Climate Policy at the Center for American Progress, “Retaliation can also spread beyond the actual petitioners to harm the U.S. economy more broadly.” China could block market access for U.S.-based firms in other cleantech industries.

Tom Zarrella, a former chief executive of GT Solar, a New Hampshire supplier of solar manufacturing equipment, said, “It would be a travesty for the solar industry.” The U.S. is still an important supplier of polysilicon, as well as CSPV manufacturing equipment.

In addition, Chinese solar manufacturers could ramp up production in the U.S. similar to how trade cases against Japanese automakers in the 1970s and 1980s pushed Japanese companies into building factories in the U.S. “Chinese solar manufacturer Canadian Solar already said that would be one possible response to countervailing duties and anti-dumping duties in this case too.”

However, this would not be a way for Chinese manufacturers to circumvent tariffs because the trade case applies to Chinese-made cells as well as modules comprised of Chinese-made cells, no matter where those modules are assembled. To avoid the tariffs, Chinese manufacturers would have to locate not just module assembly plants but cell production facilities in the United States as well.

The trade case “will only accelerate the setting up of solar module and solar cell manu-facturing in the United States,” said the president of Grape Solar, a company based in Eugene, Ore., that is a big importer of solar panels from China, Korea and Taiwan, as quoted in the New York Times. Grape Solar has already been in discussions with big Chinese panel makers on ways to move more manufacturing to the United States.”

The report states that around 100,000 Americans are employed in the solar industry in the U.S with about 24,000 manufacturing, including manufacturers of equipment and polysilicon producers. About 50 percent work in installation, construction, and engineering; another 18 percent in sales and distribution. Of the 24,000 people who work in solar manufacturing in the U.S., just about 5,000 manufacture cells or modules that compete with those made in China (and are the subject of the trade case).

Adam Hersh, Economist at the Center for American Progress, argued that if Chinese producers have an unfair advantage, it will undermine the world’s transition to renewable energy as a source of power. “If the producers are being given unfair advantages in China it’s going to undermine innovation in the sector of renewable energy infrastructure and will set back the pace of our transition to using sources of renewable energy. That’s why it’s so important to have a level playing field in this…There are some who argue that we should let in these subsidized, dumped products from China because it makes it cheaper to install and build out renewable energy here in the U.S. But that is a very shortsighted view of the dynamics of the industry. We need to have the innovation competition which will allow us to scale up and produce the most efficient and next generation of solar and other renewable energy sources going forward.”

The main petitioner in the trade case is SolarWorld Industries America, the U. S. division of a German company. SolarWorld operates factories in the United States and Germany and has been the largest U.S. solar panel manufacturer for more than 35 years. SolarWorld is the only vertically integrated company left in the U. S., meaning that it combines all stages of the photovoltaic value chain, from the raw material silicon to turn-key solar power plants. SolarWorld has its U.S. headquarters in Hillsboro, Ore. and a second plant located in Camarillo, Calif.

The other top American company is First Solar that “manufactures thin-film cells and modules (not crystalline silicon photovoltaics) and held the top spot among solar cell and module manufacturers in 2009. It is still the world’s largest producer of thin-film solar modules, accounting for more than 40 percent of world output. First Solar is headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, but the “lion’s share” (68 percent in 2010) of its output is produced in Malaysia.”

The main target of the anti-subsidy and anti-dumping trade case is Chinese company, Suntech Power, which was the world’s biggest producer of solar cells and solar modules in 2010. The company was founded in 2001 by Dr. Shi Zhengrong, who had been a research director of Pacific Solar Pty., Ltd., an Australian PV company. Suntech built its first manufacturing plant in the U.S. in Goodyear, Arizona in 2010, making it the first Chinese cleantech company to set up a manufacturing facility in the U.S. The 50 MW module assembly plant enables Suntech to label solar modules assembled there as “made in U.S.A.” As a result, Suntech now qualifies for federal “Buy American” subsidies.

Andrew Beebe, Chief Commercial Officer at Suntech, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal stating, “the fact that 95 percent of U.S. solar-related jobs are outside of cell or module manufacturing, is the reason why “many large and small U.S. solar industry leaders – including AES Solar, Dow Corning, Grape Solar, GroSolar, GT Advanced Technologies, MEMC/SunEdison, REC Silicon, Rosendin Electric, SolarCity, Swinerton and Verengo Solar – have banded together in the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy to oppose tariffs and defend free trade. They not only represent American consumers; they represent thousands of American manufacturing jobs and 95% of all American solar-industry jobs.”

The Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE) states that punitive tariffs against Chinese cell imports could affect solar PV sellers, distributors, and installers and the 76,000 Americans they employ in a number of ways. The imposition of tariffs could cause costs to increase and cause demand for solar products to decline, which would result in an associated reduction in American jobs in areas like installation, construction, engineering, sales, and distribution.

This report makes clear that “China’s solar cell and module manufacturers are highly competitive for many more reasons than having received subsidies on the order of 3-5 percent. Chinese manufacturers will still have the scale, the vertical integration, the discounted materials and equipment, and the low labor costs that allow them to sell cells for significantly less than their American competitors…And they will still have the significant support of the Chinese government’s industrial policy.”

The report then considers actions the U.S. or U.S. manufacturers could take that would help improve their competitiveness in the global solar industry. According to Shyam Mehta, Senior Analyst at GTM Research, Western and Japanese crystalline silicon manufacturers will never beat China at the CSPV game because China has such lower costs. He said that the future lies in either differentiated technology or a new business model. They must either:

  • Commercialize a revolutionary technology at high scale that lowers the PV cost curve. China has had no success developing non-crystalline silicon PV technology. Elsewhere, there is only one notable semi-success, and that is First Solar thin-film technology; or
  • Find a different business model. For example, First Solar and SunPower build and operate solar farms, and have done so successfully in the U.S. The advantage of building and operating solar power plants is that then the company has a dedicated sales channel that insulates its profit margins against China’s low-cost panels.

Others suggest that the U.S. develop an industrial policy and develop U.S. incentives to level the playing field. At present, the scale of Chinese incentives dwarf U.S. efforts. Access to capital is a critical compliment to the United States’ capacity to innovate.” To that end, the SEMI PV Group recommends:

  • Large, long-term, stable, market-side support policies, including a national Renewable Clean Energy Standard (RES), state Renewable Portfolio Standards, buyer incentive programs, and sales and property tax credits;
  • Maintain the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) through 2016;
  • Extend the Section 1603 Treasury Grant Program that has provided a grant in lieu of the advanced energy investment tax credit (ITC);
  • Increase Department of Energy funding for both R&D and manufacturing infrastructure development of the U.S. solar industry;
  • Establish the R&D tax credit on a long-term basis to assure solar manufacturers greater consistency in tax and investment planning;
  • Revive the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit (MTC), and creation of a federal Green Bank to supplement PV and other green energy projects, particularly for manufacturing; and
  • Work with foreign counterparts and the WTO to develop a strong, effective and enforceable rules-based international trading system that promotes free and open trade.

“We need to make sure we are investing in the foundations of innovation here in the United States to give our companies the policy environment they need to remain competitive against a rising China…we have to make sure that we do not cede critical American jobs to the Chinese – in solar manufacturing as in other U.S. industries – just because we were lax on the policy side,” argues Melanie Hart, Policy Analyst for Chinese Energy and Climate Policy at the Center for American Progress.

Speaking at the Conference on the Renaissance of American Manufacturing, Gordon Brinser, President of SolarWorld Industries America, said that the U.S. must respond more quickly when there is evidence that China is violating international or domestic trade laws. Brinser recommended some specific policy improvements:

  1. The administration’s new trade unit should closely monitor import data for early signs of market distortions spurred by foreign governments;
  2. Our trade agencies must look hard at ways to preserve an open, transparent process for trade cases but in fewer steps and less time;
  3. They also must, in conjunction with U.S. Customs, aggressively find ways to anticipate and stop circumvention of trade remedies and theft of intellectual property;
  4. The government should bring legitimate cases for industries that are too small or injured to afford them; and
  5. The government must shed light on foreign companies that raise capital on U.S. exchanges and then withhold audit information from securities regulators.

I believe implementing these recommendations would benefit American manufacturers in all industries. The solar industry has not been the only target of Chinese “dumping.” We must enforce international and domestic trade laws to protect our entire manufacturing industry if we ever want to revive our economy and create more American jobs.

“What does the economy have to do with national security?”

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Most people in the United States would define national security as military readiness, homeland defense, and generally protecting American interests at home and abroad.  They don’t recognize that the economy has an effect on our national security.  This is the main purpose of the book “Economic Security:  Neglected Dimension of National Security?” edited by Dr. Sheila Ronis for the Center for Strategic Conferencing, Institute for National Strategic Studies and published by the National Defense University Press in the fall of  2011.

Other questions she considered are:  “But how does the United States remain strong? What does that mean in a world of globalization? How do we even define what national security is in such a complex and interdependent world?  Can we survive, let alone remain a superpower, if we no longer control any means of production?  If we remain a major debtor nation?  If we continue our dependence on unstable countries for our energy supplies?  If we invest insufficient amounts of our resources in research and development, science and technology?  Or if we perceive the training and education of people as a cost as opposed to an investment?”

This report was the result of a conference held on August 24–25, 2010, by the National Defense University.  The conference explored the economic element of national power.  Over two days, several keynote speakers and participants in six panel discussions explored the complexity of this subject and examined the major elements that define the economic component of national security.

The panels and keynote presentations looked at the economic element of national power from different system views, including the role of debt, the government, industrial capability, energy, science, technology, and human capital—create a systemic view of what could be done to improve an understanding of the economic element of national power. Selected papers from the conference that represent these views comprise this volume, edited by Dr. Sheila Ronis, Director of the Master of Business Administration/Master of Management Programs at Walsh College and President of The University Group, Inc., a management consulting firm and think tank specializing in strategic management, visioning, national security, and public policy.  Dr. Ronis has chaired the Vision Working Group of the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) in Washington, DC, which has been tasked by Congress to rewrite the National Security Act of 1947. As a Distinguished Fellow at PNSR, Dr. Ronis is responsible for the plan and processes to develop the Center for Strategic Analysis and Assessment, to provide the mechanism to conduct foresight studies and the development of the grand strategies that would follow—the kind of studies that would look at an entire system, such as the economy and its relationship to national security.

Dr. Ronis begins with a definition of national security that “can include anything that adds to the strength of the Nation,” such as “the strength of our nation’s infrastructure, our strong societal and moral codes, the rule of law, stable government, social, political, and economic institutions, and leadership.”  It also includes “our nation’s schools and educational programs to ensure a knowledgeable citizenry and lifelong learning—a must for a democracy.”  Then, it also “requires investments in science, engineering, research and development, and technological leadership. We cannot be strong without a viable way to power our cities, feed ourselves, and move from one place to another. Most of all, a strong economy is an essential ingredient of a global superpower.”  Without a strong market-based economy we would quickly lose our superpower status.  We need to have a strong base of globally competitive products and services that produce jobs. The “economy must include sound government policies to promote responsible choices and reduce our debt, and grand strategies for energy and environmental sustainability, science and technology leadership (at least in some areas), human capital capabilities, manufacturing, and the industrial base.”   “And…National security goes to the very core of how we define who we are as a people and a free society. It concerns how we view our world responsibilities.”

Dr. Ronis states that there can be no question of the need to include the economic viability of our nation as a major element of national security because “without capital, there is no business; without business, there is no profit; without profit, there are no jobs.  And without jobs, there are no taxes, and there is no military capability.  The viability of a nation’s industrial infrastructure, which provides jobs for its people, creates and distributes wealth, and leverages profits, is essential. Without jobs, the quality of peoples’ lives deteriorates to a point where society itself can disintegrate.”

Chapter one is a transcript of the comments made by opening keynote speaker David Walker, U. S. Comptroller General and head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) from 1998 to 2008, and  Founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative.  When he started at the GAO, it didn’t have “a strategic, integrated, forward-looking, and outcome-based strategic plan.”  They put such a plan in place at GAO during his tenure, and he said, “It is the closest thing that exists to a strategic plan for the Federal Government, but the GAO is in the legislative branch. So we need one for the executive branch. It needs to be led by the OMB (Office of Management and Budget), and hopefully, eventually it will be.”

He stated, “Things like savings, critical infrastructure, investments in basic research, educational outcomes, and healthcare outcomes are key leading indicators, and in all of these areas, we are below average for an industrialized nation.”  He contends that if the economic element of national power is neglected and misunderstood, nothing will be more dangerous to the Nation than the national debt and its unintended consequences for generations to come.  Last year government represented 25 percent of the economy, above the recent average of 21 percent. “But if we do not reform our existing entitlement programs and other aspects of government, it will represent about 40 percent of the economy by 2040, and that does not count state and local governments.”

He stated that the composition of the budget has changed dramatically in the last four decades.  “Forty years ago, it was dominated by defense at 42 percent.  Today, it is dominated by social insurance programs, which grow faster than inflation and grow faster than the economy even when the economy is growing. Forty years ago, when Congress came to town, they got to decide how 62 percent of the budget would be spent, of which today defense is about half of the discretionary budget.  Now they decide how about 38 percent gets spent, and if we continue on our status quo, do nothing, let-it-ride policy, it will go down to 18 percent by 2040.  This obviously is an imprudent and unsustainable course.”  He points out that if you count our unfunded Social Security and Medicare debt, our total debt is $62 trillion, not the $14 trillion we hear about.  He states that if the total debt is taken into consideration, we are worse off than Spain,    and only three years away from becoming like Greece.  His arguments are alarming and are critical for policymakers and every citizen to understand.   In conclusion, he provides a common-sense approach to making the tough choices and changes we need to make before it’s too late to get our financial house in order.

In chapter two, John Morton traces the historical roots of the economy and its role in enabling the superpower status of the Nation.  Mr. Morton is a Distinguished Fellow and the Homeland Security Lead for the Project on National Security Reform. He is also the Strategic Advisor to and a consultant to Gryphon Technologies. He states, “Today, America sustains that position primarily through two elements of its national power: its peerless military and its dollar currency, upon which the international monetary and economic system is largely based. A third element initially enabled that hegemony in the 1940s: the national economy—that is, the Nation’s industrial might. Much of that element is no longer present today.”  He presents a brilliant analysis of how American industry was the foundation of America’s becoming a superpower from the Civil War to the present day and how the alliance of government, science, industry, academe, and the military forged the national security establishment, later called the defense industrial base.  He proposes that the United States needs an economic grand strategy in order to continue America’s role in the world, which is based on its military and economic prowess and capability.

In chapter three, Keith Cooley explains his approach to an energy plan, which includes a grand strategy that, if enacted, will support the Nation’s future.  Mr. Cooley is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the advisory firm Principia, LLC.  He previously was President and CEO of NextEnergy, an accelerator for alternative energy businesses and technologies. He paraphrases the International Energy Association definition of energy security as simply “the assurance of the uninterrupted supply of energy at an affordable price, while respecting environmental concerns.” His chapter addresses the notion of energy security as national security from four points of view that are, in his opinion, strategic priorities:

  • Priority 1: creating strong civic, business, and political leadership to quickly implement needed changes that assure energy and national security for this country.
  • Priority 2: developing and sustaining an alternative energy capability
  • Priority 3: migrating to alternative (sometimes called “clean”) energy sources
  • Priority 4: widespread increased dependence on domestic energy efficiency

He states, that “no 21st-century economy can be secured without a steady supply of energy. Without adequate energy to power contemporary civilization, there is no security at all.”  He concludes by urging “action on energy security issues at the highest levels of government, industry, and civic engagement. We have many examples to draw lessons from both here and abroad that can inform our actions. But we must act; we must engage. It is the only path available for our survival.”

In chapter four, Louis Infante offers his approach to energy security.  Mr. Infante is the Executive Director, Government and Military, for Ricardo, Inc., an independent automotive engineering consulting company, where he is responsible for strategy development and enactment in the military and government markets.  He advocates a National Energy Security Initiative administered by the Department of Energy (DOE) and joined by every government department with responsibilities that will be affected by energy—in essence, practically all departments.”  He describes a specific model that the U. S. could use to manage the complexities of its entire energy system. “This initiative would include mechanisms to improve the research and development policymaking decisions and strategies to make them real.”  He recommends that “U.S. leadership must overcome barriers to establishment of a national policy on energy that prescribes an endgame and the plan to achieve it.”  He concludes that “the National Energy Security Initiative will provide the coordinating efforts in planning and technology R&D that can assure success in the redevelopment of the U.S. energy system. And it can start within DOD as a first application of success.”

In chapter five, Myra Howze Shiplett, Wendy Russell, Anne M. Khademian, and Lenora Peters Gant address the complex set of issues of whether a nation can be an economic or military superpower without a plan to ensure it has people with the right knowledge and capabilities throughout its society.  They point out, “In 2010, America was “ranked 12th in the number of 24- to 35-year-olds with college degrees . . . among 36 developed nations” compared to “sixth in post-secondary educational attainment in the world among 25- to 60-year-olds.” Also, a major problem is that “Nationwide, only about 70 percent of students earn their high school diplomas” with lower rates for minority students ? “only 57.8 percent of Hispanic, 53.4 percent of African American, and 49.3 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native students.”  They discuss the five steps needed for the “Architecture of the High School Educational Future” and a new kind of graduate education that will produce “practitioners/scholars” with the skill sets needed for public service.  They conclude that “A vibrant, growing economy that provides jobs for America’s citizens is an essential component of our national security. A critical success factor for such an economy is a well-educated workforce, equipped to deal with the complexities of the 21st century…The security of our nation demands this commitment.”

In chapter six, Carmen Medina explores the many issues that surround what it means to have innovation as a major element of a nation’s economy.  Carmen Medina retired from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in February 2010 after over 30 years of service. Her last assignment was as Director of the Center for the Study of Intelligence (CSI), where she developed and managed CIA’s first agency-wide Lessons Learned Program. First, she explores some definitions of innovation: “technology-based that leads to new industries”, as opposed to “social innovation, which refers to changes in the way people behave,” as well as agricultural innovation, “defined as the application of knowledge of all types to achieve desired social and economic outcomes.”  She states that “The capacity for innovation has been the primary catalyst of U.S. economic growth. Indeed, capitalism essentially is built on innovation and the concept of creative destruction. Going forward, innovation will be even more critical to U.S. economic prosperity.”

She identifies a problem, stating “There is, however, no doubt that the U.S. capacity for innovation has declined in relative and absolute terms over the last 20 years or so.  Our standing has consistently declined.”  In addition, “the emergence of the BRIC economies—those of Brazil, Russia, India, and China—will fundamentally alter the world economic map by 2020.”  The conclusion of this chapter is that “It is probably impossible for the United States to have a robust economy and remain a superpower if its companies lose their ability to be innovative.

Very often, important White Papers, reports, and books are ignored by the mass news media, but this is one book that every elected official from the president down to local legislators should read.  The current situation is alarming, and we have a limited amount of time to address these issues if we want to stop our slide into becoming a third-world nation.  Manufacturing, innovation, energy security, and an educated citizenry are necessary to maintain freedom as a democratic republic.   As the report concludes, “To be successful in addressing a complex system, we need to integrate all major elements of national power: diplomatic, informational, military, economic, and so on… The entire world expects the United States to remain a leader. We cannot do this unless we are strong. And we cannot be strong unless we plan for and shape our future as a Nation with a sound economy.”