In a recent post, we marked the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Oil Embargo–an event that has had profound economic and geopolitical aftershocks for the United States. The embargo itself lasted five months, but its legacy continues to this day. As discussed in our post, the risks of America’s oil dependence are as great if not greater than they were 40 years ago, despite the recent surge in domestic oil development.
We shared a video clip from The Daily Show that reviews proclamations by eight successive presidents to make the United States “energy independent.” The collage of speeches is humorous, but it also compels the question: why has America fallen short of these lofty goals for so long?
The answer may lie in HOW the challenge was approached by these presidents. Past milestone achievements by the United States are often cited as examples of what the nation can accomplish when we commit to a common goal—such as the Apollo program, America’s mobilization during World War II, and the creation of the Interstate Highway System. Why did these endeavors succeed while efforts concerning energy have largely failed? What lessons do they hold?
In a new white paper outlining the elements of a National Energy Program, Lawrence Klaus asserts that “method matters.” Mr. Klaus worked in the Boeing Aerospace Group during the development of the Apollo program and learned first-hand how it was planned and implemented. As Mr. Klaus describes, Apollo was a PROGRAM – not a policy, technology, or assemblage of individual projects. It was a large-scale, public-private collaboration based on precisely defined goals and objectives, meticulous planning, and a program management system. Apollo was spearheaded by NASA—a “command organization” created by a president not mentioned in the Daily Show clip—Dwight Eisenhower.
Overcoming America’s oil dependence is different than putting a man on the moon. But Mr. Klaus illustrates how the Apollo program, the Interstate Highway System, and the national transformation during World War II employed essentially the same approach; and how this approach can be adapted to tackle America’s energy challenges.
ASPO-USA does not necessarily endorse the specific recommendations presented in the paper, but we believe it provides an important starting point for discussion.