Friday, September 17, 2010

Energy Sector and CIP

I have long posted blogs and comments on the fact that the world of CIP [Critical Infrastructure Protection] was split into two parts in 1997 when the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection issued its seminal report and findings in fall 1997 and dividing CIP into physical security and cyber security. Wow! 13 years since that report and still the stuggle for change continues. I have long advocated that almost 2/3rds of all spending on physical securit should be reoriented into computer and cyber security especially vulnerabities of computer assisted control systems. This is especially true of the energy sector. And by the way OPEC [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] has just celebrated its 50th anniversary. With over 90% of oil and gas reserves in the hands of the NOC's [national oil companies] a history of non-OPEC countries and businesses cooperation with OPEC is long overdue. Model of course is Daniel Yergin's 1994 wonder "The Prize" which documented pretty well the fact that oil and gas lay at the heart of allied victory in WWII. The first at least partially mechanized war. By the end of this century whether there is PEAK OIL or not it does look like geo-political issues will be largely over energy and water. The two basics (far more interrelated than most know) that dominate economic life and survival in the modern world.

As readers of this blog know I rank cyber security/computer security as the second most important priority for DHS after WMD related issues and policies, prevention, protection and response and recovery. Congress is again tampering without much expertise in criticizing the sections of DHS dealing with WMD.

If you accept that nuclear power reactors are inherently a proliferation tool and step on the way to nuclear weapons capability, which many expert and not don't always do, then you understand that the US is the world's formost weapons proliferator. Perhaps this started with the fact that Israel could not have built nuclear capability without open support of the US and is another Nixon legacy, along with devaluation of the dollar, that still will be problematic for the rest of this century. The real question is whether nuclear weapons or materials will be used as WMD or as negotiation ploys for the rest of this century? My answer is yes since the obvious fact exists that no nuclear capable state has yet attacked another one.

Where does this impact HS/EM and why blog about it? Because the rising tensions over power and water systems is now becoming the basic control mechanism over resilience in the US. Proof? Will ask how many of the US water systems are not foreign owned! The Germans have been buying up small US community water systems for almost three decades. The federal water policy establishment has never recoverd from its decimation from Reagan Administration policies. And of course energy policy in the US never responded to Carter's call for "war" and still is largely Reagan era in its conception.

OPEC and the energy majors have been one of the most profitable sectors of the world economy since OPEC's formation. This is likely to continue and it is amazing to me how the energy sector escaped any blame for the collapse of the economy in 2008. Hey my belief could be wrong but when the average Joe (including me) saw unleaded gas over $4.00 a galleon he understood for the first time that he was locked into a bad system that drained his pockets from spending money on all but the basics.

The BP catatstrophe of course just highlighted the power and skill of these large corporations which are really nothing but extractive industries from using their political clout in a manner no different than the oligarchs in Russia (ofter energy related also)!

So another two years of a new administration passes with no one taking on the energy sector and now looking increasingly like improvements in the energy transmission grid will be federally funded for many reasons. The gas transmission pipeline network, note recent disaster in CALIFORNIA, has resulted already in proposed legislation in the SENATE. That won't pass this session but I bet the industry lobbies for federal funding of its safety and security which is one of the unsung stories post 9/11/01. In other words the shuffle as to who will pay, the taxpayer or shareholders, for improvements in CIP resilience. This is one battle sure to need close watching over the 112th Congress.

And please note that increasingly DHS is focusing its attentions on citizens and residents of the US not systems. Why? It is easier when skilled lobbyists are not available to question your calls!

Here is to full evaluation of whether US energy policy is driving US further towards third world status.