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Washington University in St. Louis University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Columbia University


Columbia University


University of California, Los Angeles


University of Michigan, Ann Arbor




ROOSEVELT REVIEW Volume 4, Issue 1

A compendium of outstanding white papers produced by the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network


Volume 4, Issue 1

A publication of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network 570 Lexington Avenue New York, NY 1022


Volume 4, Issue 1


Volume 4, Issue 1

HILARY DOE National Director


TARSI DUNLOP Director of Operations




National Policy Director







The Iraqi Refugee Crisis: Examining the Admission of Iraqi Refugees Into the United States Since 2007





Special Thanks


The Next Attack Will Be Our Last: America’s Failure to Employ Adequate Security Practices at Chemical Facilities


Mixed-Member Proportional Representation: Fixing the “People’s House” WILLIAM ORGANEK


Development and Its Contents: Elevating Development as the Third Core Pillar in American Foreign Affairs AMREEN RAHMAN and ERIKA SOLANKI

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network 570 Lexington Avenue New York, NY 1022 Copyright © 2011 by the Roosevelt Institute. All rights reserved. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors. They do not express the views or opinions of the Roosevelt Institute, its officers, or its directors.


Mitigating Climate Change: Ready-to-Implement Policies for the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions JULIA SITTIG and GILLIAN WENER





Volume 4, Issue 1

Volume 4, Issue 1

selves—and each other—about sensible and actionable progressive public policies.


The last time the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network published a journal called the Roosevelt Review, the venerable 10 Ideas series had yet to launch, the “Roosevelt Institute Campus Network” name had yet to be christened, and George W. Bush had a year and a half to go in his second term in office. Back then, Kyle Atwell, Editor-in-Chief of the 2007 Review, lauded the still-fledgling organization’s remarkable growth, writing: “The Roosevelt Institution of today is focused, prolific, and effective. We have matured.” Four years later, it is difficult to imagine even the most idealistic of Roosevelt’s first-generation leaders foreseeing just how wildly successful their organization would one day become: the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network of 2011 boasts thousands of active members and alumni, spanning 80 campuses, and has impacted policies on the city, state, national, and even international level. Yet, at its core, Roosevelt remains a network of college students joined by a shared commitment to researching, writing, and educating them-

I still remember the awe I felt in 2007 as a student staffer thumbing through the first three issues of the Roosevelt Review. The quality, professionalism, and originality of the student-authored white papers showcased in the Review exemplified the core value of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network: to produce well-reasoned, well-researched, and well-considered public policy so that students, too, could participate in an integral (yet often overlooked) part of the political process. Over the years, the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network has offered students no shortage of ways to get their research published; however, the Roosevelt Review remains the premier venue for allowing sophisticated public policy research in any of Roosevelt’s six focus areas to reach the entire country. In this issue, you will read about ideas for improving our elections, protecting our chemical plants, mitigating climate change, tackling water scarcity, assisting displaced Iraqi refugees, and promoting international development as a cornerstone of American foreign policy. Welcome to the 2011 issue of the Roosevelt Review—a continuation of something truly extraordinary. Frank Lin Editor-in-Chief


NEW YORK 2011 might well be remembered as a year of political gridlock in the United States. Passionate debates rage in Washington between the old guards of the Republican and Democratic parties, and in the process the voice of the Millennial generation has been largely locked out. But outside of the Beltway, and beyond the corridors of power, our generation is hard at work transforming the country. The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network is serving the Millennial generation across the country, engaging young people in progressive, grassroots policymaking, empowering America’s communities, and promoting our generation’s ideas for change. Demonstrating the finest examples of student policywriting, the Roosevelt Review marks another step forward in the proud succession of Roosevelt Campus Network publications. With pieces representing equal justice, environmental protection, international

development, and national security, this publication continues the proud Roosevelt tradition of addressing our country’s toughest challenges with bold vision and innovative ideas. Reese Neader National Policy Director

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS In addition to the authors and editors, the 2011 re-launch of the Roosevelt Review would not have been possible were it not for the contributions of the following people: Dante Barry Nina Coutinho Tarsi Dunlop Matthew Fischler Kirsten Hill Caitlin Howarth Awais Khaleel Taylor Jo Isenberg Sara John Sarah Martin Reese Neader Jason Norton Fay Pappas Lucas Puente David Weinberger

The Iraqi Refugee Crisis ABOUT THE AUTHOR Adina Appelbaum graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a dual B.A. in International Area Studies, specializing in the Middle East, and Urban Studies. She served as Co-President of Washington University’s Roosevelt chapter from 2007 to 2010, where she led debates and discussions about foreign policy. Appelbaum recently completed a Fulbright Scholarship in Egypt, where she conducted research in migration and refugee policy and provided legal aid to foreign refugees living in Egypt— primarily Iraqi, but also Sudanese, Somalian, Eritrean, and Ethiopian. This fall, Appelbaum will begin her Master of Public Policy degree at Georgetown University, where she plans to continue her focus on migration and refugee policy.

Examining the Admission of Iraqi Refugees Into the United States Since 2003 ADINA APPELBAUM Washington University in St. Louis

In the past three decades, the United States has resettled more refugees from around the world than every other developed nation combined. Yet following the American-led war against Iraq in 2003, only a minimal number of Iraqi refugees have been allowed into the United States, despite the displacement of over 4 million people as a direct result of the war. The American response to the Iraqi refugee crisis has proven to be wholly inadequate, especially compared to its efforts directed towards relieving previous refugee crises—such as in Vietnam and elsewhere—that the United States also had a primary hand in creating. Why has the United States failed to react steadfastly and meaningfully to the Iraqi refugee crisis? To answer this question, this paper will examine how the United States’ foreign policy interests have influenced its response to the Iraqi refugee crisis. Quite simply, the United States has neglected to respond fully to the crisis because it is not in its best

interest to do so—from a foreign policy perspective, at least. In addressing the Iraqi refugee crisis through refugee resettlement programs, the United States would inevitably draw attention to Iraq’s continuing instability and potentially delegitimize its mission there. The fragmented nature of the international community’s approach to refugee policy and the inadequacies of the United States Refugee Assistance Program (USRAP) have also contributed to a cumulative failed response to the Iraqi refugee crisis. In particular, the USRAP’s inconsistent and inflexible design has resulted in dire rates of unemployment and homelessness for the few Iraqi refugees who have been resettled into the United States. Finally, the experience of Iraqi refugees, both prior to and after their admission to the United States, offers a valuable insight into the realities and implications of the United States’ refugee policy during times of crisis.

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Introduction For the past three decades, the United States has resettled more refugees from around the world than all other developed nations combined.1 In 2006, however, only 202 Iraqi refugees were allowed into the United States, at a time when 4.7 million Iraqis were displaced as a direct result of the U.S.-led war in Iraq that began in 2003.2 In other refugee crises that the U.S. helped cause, such as the refugee crisis that followed the Vietnam War, the U.S. has “set a high standard for generosity toward refugee populations,”3 often initiating airlifts and devising special programs to meet the needs of the displaced. Following widespread criticism in 2007, the federal government finally admitted more Iraqi refugees and enacted legislation related to their needs. In particular, it established a Direct Access Program meant to hastily resettle Iraqi refugees who had worked with American troops to the United States. However, the resettlement of Iraqi refugees in the United States has been undermined by numerous obstacles, and no massive resettlement initiatives for Iraqi refugees have been devised. Why has the U.S. reaction to the Iraqi refugee crisis been different? Many advocacy organizations and members of Congress have argued that as a consequence of inciting the war and thus the massive displacement of Iraqis, the U.S. government has an obligation to resettle Iraqi refugees.4, 5 These expectations are heightened when it comes to Iraqi refugees whose lives have been threatened as a direct result of their work as translators or contractors for the U.S. during the war. An estimated 100,000 Iraqi refugees have been forced to flee Iraq because they have worked for the U.S.6 Though the U.S. has accepted more Iraqi refugees than any other country, it has also been widely criticized for failing to respond at the onset of the crisis, acknowledge the scale of displacement, protect and accept thousands of refugees for resettlement, and meet its own resettlement targets.7 The experience of Iraqi refugees, particularly regarding their admission to the United States, represents a valuable microcosm to assess the implications of current U.S. refugee policy during times of crisis. This paper explores the following question: how have U.S. foreign policy interests since the onset of the Iraq War in 2003 affected the U.S. response to the Iraqi refugee crisis? An exploration of this ques8

tion will necessarily be constricted by several contextual factors. Given the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the topic of refugee policy is complicated by recent security and political concerns, as well as related legal developments. It is thus impossible to have a one-to-one comparison of the current U.S. response to the Iraqi refugee crisis to preceding U.S. responses to superficially parallel refugee cases. Furthermore, all refugee crises involve unique histories of nations, peoples, and diplomatic relations, and thus this analysis of the Iraqi refugee crisis should be viewed accordingly.

The Crisis Approximately 4.7 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in the aftermath of the Iraq War. It is estimated that two million Iraqis have fled to Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, and other neighboring countries, and another 2.7 million are displaced within Iraq.8 These numbers have made the current Iraqi refugee crisis the largest exodus in the Middle East since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.9 This also makes Iraqis the world’s third largest refugee population.10 Considering that many displaced Iraqis have been denied refugee status, have been forced to return to Iraq, and/or have been unable to register with UNHCR, these statistics are incomplete. As President Obama correctly observes, displaced Iraqis are a “living consequence” of the Iraq War.11 Iraqis who have connections to the United States (from working for the U.S. as translators, contractors, and employees, for example) have been especially threatened. There are an estimated 30,000 to 100,000 Iraqis that are affiliated with the United States,12 and approximately 76,000 Iraqi contractors that have supported U.S. operations in Iraq.13 According to the List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies, a nonprofit organization, such Iraqis bear a “lethal stigma” as collaborators and are systematically targeted for assassination.14 The unique situation of Iraqi refugees who are displaced across the Middle East makes their case very different from other refugee crises the U.S. has had to deal with. The majority of Iraqi refugees are dispersed across cities, rather than camps, making it difficult for authorities to provide them with information about resettlement options and legal rights.15

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Many get little aid from either their host country or the international community. Very few Iraqi refugees are registered as such, and no thorough survey exists to measure the extent of the Iraqi refugee crisis; thus, estimates of the total number of Iraqis displaced are imprecise.16 Many Iraqi refugees dispersed throughout the region also have no legal status. For example, almost all Iraqi refugees (and many others, including the Sudanese and Palestinians) do not have permanent legal status in countries such as Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, where the majority reside.17 This is problematic as they consequentially do not have the right to work and cannot get access to work permits. Without citizenship status, Iraqis typically lack access to public schools—a notable exception being Syria, where Iraqis have free access to public education. (Nevertheless, even in Syria, out of 250,000 school-aged Iraqi children, only 47,000 were actually enrolled in 2007.)18 Iraqis also have poor access to health services—that is, if they have access to any health services at all. The humanitarian situation has had widespread consequences upon the Iraqi refugee community, from the larger to the daily level. Observes one Iraqi refugee in the 2008 documentary Iraqis in Egypt: “In Iraq, we are not safe but we can eat. In Egypt, we are safe but we can’t eat.” In light of the circumstances that Iraqi refugees endure in the region, resettlement to countries such as the U.S. is particularly crucial for Iraqi refugees. None of the countries neighboring Iraq have developed programs to integrate Iraqi refugees into their societies, and it is unlikely that the two primary receivers of Iraqi refugees, Syria and Jordan, will accommodate more Iraqis in the long term.19 For many displaced Iraqis, repatriation to Iraq is “simply impossible any time soon” due to continued instability. Indeed, even UNHCR points out that “moving to a third country is the only realistic solution” for Iraqi refugees.20 Meanwhile, the described humanitarian ramifications of the crisis in these countries have been drastically deteriorating. As Amnesty International notes, with each month that passes, more Iraqis “need help with the basics to survive,”21 leaving many faced with the difficult decision of whether to return to Iraq. As the security situation in Iraq is still unstable, especially for those Iraqis who are targeted for having connections to the United States, the Iraqi refugee crisis remains urgently in need of being addressed.

History In the United States, refugee policy arguably has had the most significant connection to foreign and diplomatic relations than any other domestic issue.22 U.S. refugee policy has also been long influenced by geopolitics and security concerns.23 The refugee admission process is most affected by this relationship as it is carried out at the national level. Before detailing how the Americans’ approach to the Iraqi refugee crisis has specifically been influenced by foreign policy interests, it is necessary to first establish the broadspectrum relationship between U.S. foreign policy interests and refugee policy outcomes. As many have observed,24 neither a humanitarian model nor a human rights model describes the actual development of refugee law in the United States. Although the U.S. has admirably served as a leader in assisting refugees around the world and has acted on humanitarian concerns in numerous instances, the main driving force of U.S. refugee policy has historically been the “pursuit of national self-interest—in particular, foreign policy goals, and more particularly, the battle against Communism.”25 This is demonstrated by the historical timeline of U.S. refugee policy, which reveals how the initial development of the United States Refugee Admission Program (USRAP)26 was greatly in response to the Cold War, with later adjustments coinciding with key foreign policy events and crises. Foreign policy concerns have continued to affect refugee admissions post-Cold War. Though certain legal biases that existed in favor of refugees from communist countries were removed with the 1980 Refugee Act, “a de facto bias toward ex-Soviet and Southeast Asian refugees continued well into the 1990s.”27 Though refugee admissions have become more influenced by commercial ties rather than military and diplomatic relations, at present, the USRAP continues to emphasize foreign policy concerns, particularly toward governments adversarial to the United States. Undeniably, international relations have shaped and continue to shape the United States’ approach to refugees in a number of ways. Foreign policy has most significantly influenced U.S. refugee policy in terms of promoting U.S. strategic interests abroad, contributing to the continuation of its fragmented nature of the USRAP, and lastly, heightening security-oriented concerns after September 11 (especially for refugees from the Middle East).

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The U.S. has frequently utilized refugee policy as a means to promote strategic foreign policy interests, making refugee policy a result of diplomatic strategy rather than humanitarian concern. This relationship is no discrete matter: even the government declares that “the foreign policy and humanitarian interests of the United States are often advanced by our willingness . . . to address refugee issues.”28 The admission of refugees has the implication of admonishing and embarrassing the governments of countries from which refugees seek refuge. U.S. recognition of a refugee crisis communicates the message that the government that refugees are fleeing has either persecuted its citizens or allowed for such persecution to occur. In the fragile world of international relations, this seemingly indirect action has incredible force, to the point that it is a significant tool of foreign policy—one that the U.S. has used considerably. Ultimately, the use of refugee policy as a tool in foreign policy has enabled the U.S. to delegitimize governments that it does not support and legitimize those that it does. This framework, evidenced by varying examples below, serves as an important means to analyze the intentions behind the United States’ handling of the Iraqi refugee crisis. The special refugee assistance initiatives in 1975 in Vietnam following the Vietnam War (Operation Newlife), and from 1996 to 1997 in Iraq following the Gulf War (Operation Pacific Haven) demonstrate how U.S. promotion of foreign policy interests through refugee policy has had the effect of invalidating various governments in the past. In both of these cases, the U.S. devised special programs to admit thousands of refugees whose lives had been “torn apart by wars in which the U.S. participated”29 and who were particularly endangered due to their ties to the U.S. These programs represented swift and responsible actions by the U.S. in response to urgent crises. In Operation Newlife, President Gerald Ford intervened to swiftly resettle over 110,000 Vietnamese to the U.S. in just five months. The initiative was in response to the waves of refugees tied to the U.S.backed Saigon government that were forced to flee when the communist North Vietnamese captured the city. Following the end of the Gulf War in Iraq in 1991,

when thousands of Iraqis’ lives were threatened by Saddam Hussein for working with American agencies during the fighting, President Clinton airlifted 6,493 Iraqis to Guam through Operation Pacific Haven. Almost all were granted asylum in the U.S. seven months later.30 In addition to these operations, the U.S. and its allies also took measures to set up a “no fly zone at the end of the Gulf War to protect displaced Kurds from Saddam Hussein’s wrath.”31 Operation Newlife and Pacific Haven indicate that in cases previous to the current Iraqi refugee crisis, the U.S. has in fact responded to the moral obligation of assisting refugees that it has played a part in causing. America’s quick response in these cases to securely get refugees out of harm’s way when their danger has been brought on as a direct result of the U.S. has established a precedent in U.S. refugee policy. This precedent has not been maintained in the case of the Iraqi refugee crisis. Though ethical responsibilities of the U.S. surely drove Operations Newlife and Pacific Haven, it is also notable that in both cases, it was in the United States’ interest to play-up the refugee crises, as doing so would delegitimize the Vietnamese and Iraqi governments that the U.S. was fighting. America’s swift acceptance of its responsibility and obligation in helping refugees that they had played a part in creating had the effect of tactfully improving its humanitarian reputation while also allowing it to advance foreign policy aims behind the scenes. The U.S. has also acted on foreign policy interests to delegitimize host governments of refugee crises that it has not been directly responsible for causing. Such a practice occurred throughout and after the Cold War, demonstrated by the fact that 77% of the refugees the U.S. has resettled have been either Indochinese or citizens of the former Soviet Union— “the two groups in whom the U.S. has had particularly strong humanitarian and foreign policy interests during the past three decades” due to anti-communism efforts.32 This strategy of welcoming refugees from communist states with open arms was implemented “in order to embarrass or weaken the governments of those countries.”33 It did not end with the Cold War though, and refugee flows from the former Soviet bloc

Approximately 4.7 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in the aftermath of the Iraq War.


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to the U.S. continue to this day. For example, in 1999 following the Balkan wars, President Clinton initiated the admission of 20,000 Albanian refugees from Kosovo in a matter of months through Task Force Open Arms/Operation Safe Haven, at the cost of $100 million dollars.34 Though the Albanians were incontestably subject to horrible ethnic cleansing and in critical need of assistance, it is possible that the U.S. did not intervene only for humanitarian reasons. During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and in various other instances of mass-killing across the world in recent years, the U.S. failed to respond with similar speed or tenor. There are many factors that could have caused the U.S. to respond to the Kosovo crisis, as well as the Bosnian (where the U.S. resettled over 143,000 refugees from 1993 to 2003),35 over others. One plausible explanation, based on the overwhelming history and emphasis of the U.S. on accepting refugees from the former Soviet Bloc, is that the U.S. had a strategic interest in delegitimizing Kosovo’s and Bosnia’s governments. The objective of delegitimizing governments following the Vietnam War, Gulf War, and Balkan Wars all lucidly demonstrate how humanitarian concerns are not always the only factor that shapes U.S. refugee policy when the U.S. is not directly the cause of a refugee crisis. Besides responding to refugee crises of countries that the U.S. wants to delegitimize, the U.S. has also practiced the strategy of not acknowledging refugee crises in countries that it wants to portray positively and support, and thus not expose human rights crimes.36 This especially happened in Latin America during the Cold War when the U.S. strived to have as many countries on the pro-democracy side of the war as possible. It is well-agreed upon by scholars in the immigration and refugee field37 that President Reagan’s treatment of refugee crises particularly highlighted this pattern. Often regardless of dictator-status or vast human rights crimes, Reagan would ignore refugee crises that occurred in Americanfriendly Latin American regimes, as acknowledging them would make light of un-democratic practices that might threaten the United States’ aim to spread anti-Communist ideology throughout the hemisphere. As will be further explored, this paper puts forth the argument that the United States’ approach to the current Iraq refugee

crisis closely parallels the Reagan approach toward many refugee displacements in Latin American countries during the Cold War. Another case involving refugee crises that the U.S. does not acknowledge are those which the U.S. has no strategic foreign policy advantage to doing so, again demonstrating the strong role of foreign policy gains in the United States’ history of taking action on behalf of refugees. The 1994 refugee crisis during the genocide in Rwanda as well as many other refugee crises in Africa fall under this category. In many of these situations the U.S. has been politically and diplomatically indifferent to the countries that are involved. Nevertheless, the United States’ decision not to act has conveyed a powerful message of U.S. policymakers’ reluctance to “be drawn into active involvement” in refugee crises that offer little to no benefit to the U.S.38 In various scenarios, the U.S. has most definitely demonstrated its tendency to promote foreign policy interests through refugee policy. There have also been many other forces that have contributed to this relationship. One key force has been the U.S. aim to establish a strong humanitarian image among others worldwide and among constituents within the U.S. In certain instances, Presidents have even gone against the wishes of restrictionist members of Congress with regard to refugee policies in order to “enhance America’s international standing.”39 Improving America’s humanitarian image in this way has allowed the U.S. to present itself at the surface level as a moral, responsible superpower, when oftentimes refugee policy decisions have been disproportionately made for situations that are most likely to “save face” for the United States, improve its image, or benefit it strategically. Regardless of the source of refugee policy’s strong relationship with foreign policy, the outcome has been one that has continued the inconsistent nature of U.S. refugee policy. As a result, the U.S. system for refugee resettlement is fragmented and fluctuates according to international events, policy goals, and presidential approaches. As Freeman, Givens and Leal describe, policies influenced by the impact of foreign policy have contributed to continuing the historical “episodic, disjointed, inconsistent, and ad hoc” nature

“In Iraq, we are not safe but we can eat. In Egypt, we are safe but we can’t eat.”

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of refugee policy in America, as initially established in response to the Cold War.40 Such fragmentation has primarily played out in terms of inconsistent admission quotas and granting of refugee status. U.S. refugee policy has also been greatly influenced by the terrorist attacks of September 11, which brought about nation-wide concerns over security and the admission of foreigners. Though immigrants have been predominantly targeted as a source of potential terrorist threats, refugees have also been greatly impacted by the policy changes that occurred under a broad anti-terror rationale. Following September 11, the USRAP was virtually brought to a standstill, largely because of security reasons.41 The changing direction of refugee policy away from Cold War precedents that had been developing in the years prior to September 11 was also interrupted and complicated after the attacks. In effect, security concerns have become increasingly intertwined and prioritized in the relationship between foreign policy and refugee policy. After September 11 and the cultural atmosphere of fear that resulted, immigrants from the Middle East were carefully scrutinized by President George W. Bush’s administration for possible links to terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. In the sequence of months following the attacks, Middle Easterners were singled out by “discriminatory policies”and faced increased monitoring and surveillance,42 and sometimes even warrantless searches, often without approved court orders as a result of government decisions. This phenomenon gravely affected the experience of Middle Eastern immigrants and refugees in the United States, who became victimized on various terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds, including the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System, Operation Liberty Shield, and the material support bar. The impact of September 11 on Middle Eastern refugees has undoubtedly had significant implications for the admission of Iraqi refugees. On top of their own unique situation as war victims, Iraqi refugees must also deal with this legacy. In summary, foreign policy has not only influenced, but defined, refugee policy in the United States. If history tells us anything, it is that the U.S. has consistently tended to prioritize foreign policy concerns and diplomatic interests over a needs-driven refugee admissions policy, clearly demonstrating that humanitarian concerns are considered subordinate to the diplomatic implications of refugee admissions by the United States. 12

The Response The United States’ approach to the Iraqi refugee crisis, in response to widespread criticism, has grown to gradually acknowledge the crisis and attempt to address it. Still, many barriers continue to prevent the large-scale resettlement Iraqi refugees in the U.S. The U.S. has still not utilized its full resources and potential to meet the needs of displaced Iraqi refugees. Initially, the U.S. under the Bush administration assumed that the Iraqi refugee crisis was a normal, temporary by-product of war that would self-stabilize and require no particular policy of any kind. In fact, the U.S. did not even begin to “examine the Iraqi refugee problem” until four years after the start of the Iraq War.43 In FY 2006, when violence in Iraq rose to record levels, only 202 Iraqis were resettled to the U.S. The official position of President Bush’s administration “seemed to be that there was no humanitarian crisis; and, even if there were, it was the Iraqis’ fault.”44 Whether or not this response was one of strategic denial, it demonstrated that the United States’ policies did not consider the Iraqi refugee crisis as something that needed to be urgently addressed. Numerous public remarks reflected this view of the government. At a public forum at Georgetown University in March of 2007, a State Department representative “refused to acknowledge any special responsibility in the Iraq refugee problem.”45 The Assistant Secretary of the Department of State, Ellen Sauerbrey, also corroborated this perspective by blaming the flight from Iraq on sectarian violence, rather than U.S. involvement.46 In addition to the members of the Bush administration, Congress was also “equally absent during the early years of the war, giving scant attention to the refugee crisis.”47 It is clear that the overall view of the crisis by the government was one that heavily denied the obligation of the U.S. On September 17, 2007, cables leaked revealing the condemnation of Ryan Crocker, the then-U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, of the long delays in resettling Iraqi refugees.48 Crocker’s words in the cables signified the climax of the U.S. government’s failure to acknowledge the Iraqi refugee crisis and its obligation toward it. After the cable leaks, scrutiny of the United States’ lackluster Iraqi refugee program by Congress, the media, and non-profit and advocacy organizations intensified, culminating in extensive criticism of the

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federal government. Crocker had definitely “raised the profile of issues related to refugee processing” in ways that did anything but prevent a public uproar.49 As described by Human Rights First, a nonprofit organization, “former U.S. government officials and staff, members of Congress, Iraq War veterans, journalists, and Human Rights First and other refugee advocates” responded, arguing that the U.S. “had a moral obligation to address the needs of Iraq’s refugees, and a particular responsibility to resettle persecuted Iraqis with ties to the United States.”50 A number of policy reports and newspaper articles emerged that began to reveal the impact of the war on Iraqi citizens and refugees. Next, Congress too shifted. Led by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), the legislature began to head-on criticize the administration’s approach. In January 2007, a landmark Senate Judiciary Committee hearing occurred on the topic, entitled “The Plight of Iraqi Refugees.” Kennedy and other key leaders of Congress accused the government of failing to respond quickly enough to the displacement of Iraqis, signifying a notable shift of events in Washington. In April 2008, Congress spoke again. Led by Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), the Chairwoman and co-founder of the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus, 89 members of Congress expressed “deep concern over the plight of displaced Iraqis” in a letter to President Bush.51 In this letter, various members of the government finally grasped the weighty humanitarian consequences of the U.S. efforts in Iraq. The criticism that ensued in the months of 2007 and 2008 demonstrated that the U.S. government was eventually held accountable for its handling of the crisis. The Bush administration finally responded to the widespread criticism of its approach to the crisis and began to make changes in its processing of and approach to Iraqi refugees. The FY 2008 admission numbers demonstrate that the U.S. had dedicated “more resources and attention to the plight of Iraqis in need of immediate protection” and made “concerted efforts to address the displacement crisis.”52 The Bush administration went from admitting only 202 Iraqi refugees in FY 2006 and only 1,608 in FY 2007 (0.5% and 3.3% of all total refugee admissions, respectively), to admitting 13,822 in FY 2008 (23.0% of all admissions). Iraqi

refugees’ chances for admission to the U.S. definitely improved, and in early 2007, Sauerbrey even pledged to admit up to 250,000 Iraqi refugees. Yet although the U.S. did finally increase admission numbers, the promise of 250,000 resettled Iraqis was never fulfilled.53 Though in subsequent years thousands of more Iraqis were admitted, the government’s inability to implement the needed changes that had been identified indicated what would be the disappointing nature of the Bush administration’s eventual attempt to cultivate a full-scale response to the crisis. To add to the promises in admission numbers, the White House also attempted to improve its image of handling the crisis by appointing two ‘refugee czars’ in September 2007 to oversee Iraqi refugee policy.54 Ambassador James Foley was made Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugee Issues at the Department of State, and Lori Scialabba was appointed as the Associate Director of Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the Department of Homeland Security.55 Additionally, the State Department established the Iraq Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Task Force in February 2007, which was designed “to coordinate the work of U.S. and international organizations involved in assisting or resettling refugees and IDPs.”56 However as pointed out by John Merrill, Director of Refugees, IDPs, and Parole Programs, Middle East Iraq Office at a conference at the Center for American Progress, “the task force never meets.” Though these institutional changes in leadership portrayed an established dedication to the amelioration of the crisis, their actual impact has been doubtful. Though these changes seemingly demonstrate the resiliency of the democratic process, as the government did in fact respond and change its entire perspective on the crisis as a result of public and private criticism, a closer look has shown that they were often most significant at face-value. Even with the government’s rhetorical shift to acknowledging the Iraqi displacement, and drastically increased admission rates at the end of FY 2008, still not enough was done to address the crisis. The Bush administration continued to maintain that “repatriation to Iraq will be the solution for the vast majority of refugees” and that refugees would return to Iraq as soon as se-

Approximately 76,000 Iraqi contractors have supported U.S. operations in Iraq.

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curity improved.57 Thus, although the administration conceded that the crisis was occurring, it did so in a way that continued to imply that the instability of Iraq was temporary, perpetuating the idea that sectarian violence and other factors deserved the blame for the crisis rather than the actions of the U.S. The actual outcomes and implementation of the public’s influence upon the government’s approach to the crisis is therefore questionable. Also, the government’s apparent shift in its reaction to the crisis did not involve any measurable programs to hastily admit vast numbers of refugees (especially those that worked for the U.S.), like done in previous refugee crises that the U.S. has played a part in creating.58 The government’s lack of programmatic response is surprising as, following United States’ successful measures to address the 1996-1997 refugee crisis in Iraq through Operation Pacific Haven, the Department of Defense predicted that it would “undoubtedly be a role model for future humanitarian efforts.”59 Instead, the Bush administration gave absolutely “no consideration to this option” even after it conceded to recognizing that the crisis was occurring. This finding points out that other factors are involved in the Iraqi refugee crisis which complicate the United States’ response. The Bush administration’s unwillingness to take full responsibility for the crisis was further reflected in funding.60 President Bush’s FY 2008 and FY 2009 budget requests for international affairs “included no dedicated funding for assistance to Iraqi refugees and did not increase the funding level of the global MRA account.”61 This complete unwillingness to commit monetarily to alleviating the Iraqi displacement symbolizes that, beyond rhetoric and admission rates, the U.S. under the Bush administration had no plans to follow through with its recognition of the crisis. In comparison to Bush, President Barack Obama has overall given far more attention to the Iraqi refugee crisis, but it is still too early to tell whether his rhetoric will manifest in promising admission rates and measures to address the crisis. As of yet, President Obama’s approach can be characterized as paralleling Bush’s at the end of his term. In President Obama’s campaign for president of the United States, he openly and extensively recognized the displacement of Iraqis and the United

States’ role in creating the crisis. President Obama clearly understood not only the ethical obligation of the U.S. in responding effectively to the crisis, but also the strategic imperative of doing so. As he said during a speech in September 2007, “keeping this moral obligation is a key part of how we turn the page in Iraq. Because what’s at stake is bigger than this war—it’s our global leadership.62 President Obama’s understanding of the foreign policy advantage to addressing the crisis offered hope of a later drastic policy response. As President, Obama’s call to assist Iraqi refugees has continued. In a February 2009 speech, the President argued that displaced Iraqis are a “living consequence” of the Iraq War.63 President Obama’s statement indicated an awareness of the connection between U.S. involvement in the country and the displacement, one that President Bush failed to admit. President Obama also again conveyed his awareness that amelioration of the refugee crisis is key to the United States’ mission in Iraq. President Obama signaled that action on behalf of the U.S. toward the crisis is a “strategic interest” since the displacement is a “challenge to stability in the region,” and integral to Iraq’s reconciliation and recovery.64 With such recognition, President Obama then assured that his administration would “provide more assistance and take steps to increase international support for countries already hosting refugees” and “cooperate with others to resettle Iraqis facing great personal risk.”65 As he emphasized the return of displaced Iraqis to Iraq however, a situation Bush also cited in order to obliquely justify low U.S. admission rates, Obama hinted that his Iraqi refugee policy would not deflect far from that of his predecessor. Now in office, President Obama’s lofty statements on addressing the Iraqi refugee crisis have yet to be initiated at the policy level. Though he named a coordinator for Iraqi refugee efforts, Obama’s expressed efforts for a “large increase in humanitarian aid” for Iraqi refugees to $2 billion has not been provided with many “policy details.”66 Still no additional legislation has been passed and no airlifts or special operations have been devised. The admission rates of Iraqi refugees under the Obama administration since his inauguration in January of FY 2009 have stayed relatively similar to

Displaced Iraqis are a “living consequence” of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.


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those under Bush in the period following widespread criticism of the government’s approach to the crisis, the second half of FY 2008. When comparing Iraqis admitted in terms of a percentage of total refugee admissions, even some of the monthly admissions under Bush in FY 2008 and 2009 were higher than those of Obama. For example, August of FY 2008 and December of FY 2009 had the two highest amounts of Iraqi refugees admitted in terms of percentage and both occurred under the Bush administration. It could be possible though that Bush was able to have these higher numbers as it was the end of his term and he thus faced less accountability, as evidenced by the fact that the highest month of Iraqi refugee admissions occurred in the last month of Bush’s role as President. Regardless, FY 2008 and FY 2009’s admission of Iraqi refugees as a percentage of total refugee admissions is relatively analogous at 23.0% and 25.3%, signifying that when it comes to admission rates, Obama has not significantly departed from the Bush’s approach to the Iraqi refugee crisis. In sum, the U.S. has come a long way in acknowledging the Iraqi refugee crisis, and has made a commitment to at least presenting the image that it is willing to address the crisis. When it comes to what is actually happening on the ground through implementation though, the U.S. has failed to take drastic initiatives to approach the displacement, even when the White House has changed administrations.

Analysis The policy process of the USRAP has had direct implications for refugees of the Iraq War’s admission to the U.S. To its credit, although the U.S. was initially slow to admit Iraqi refugees in its response to the crisis, it has taken steps in the past few years to provide greater help to Iraqi refugees through increased resettlement.67 As a result, 35,000 Iraqi refugees have been successfully resettled to the U.S. since FY 2003. Still, not nearly enough Iraqis have been admitted to greatly alleviate the crisis, and thousands are still displaced throughout the region. Resettlement to the U.S. has been extremely difficult because Iraqis have had “to deal with the bureaucracies of three government institutions and go through at least 10 interviews over many months,”68 and there is still no plan in place to administer a large-scale resettlement of Iraqi refugees. The United States’ approach to the crisis has led

to inconsistent and insufficient admissions of Iraqis to the U.S. The three main paths for an Iraqi to immigrate to the U.S. are resettlement as a refugee through the USRAP, Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Iraqis who have worked for the U.S. in Iraq, and asylum for those already within U.S. borders. This section will delve into the admission of Iraqis through the USRAP and SIVs. It will then further analyze the implications of U.S. refugee policy for Iraqi refugees’ admission in terms of why the U.S. has responded to the crisis as it has. Prior to the widespread criticism of the U.S. government’s approach to the Iraqi refugee crisis, the U.S. admissions policy was simplistic: “pretend it is not there and hopefully the problem will go away.”69 From the onset of the Iraq War—March 20, 2003—in FY 2003 until FY 2006, the U.S. admitted only 764 Iraqi refugees. In fact, in FY 2006 “three times as many refugees from the former USSR” were resettled to the U.S. than from the Middle East.70 The U.S. Department of State has argued that a drastic increase in Iraqi refugee admissions did not occur because Iraqis were not fleeing in large numbers from sectarian violence in Iraq until February of 2006, after the bombing of the Al-Askari mosque in Samarra. Even still, the U.S. did not resettle the first cases resulting from the sectarian violence until June of 2007, meaning 16 perennial months of waiting time for refugees whose lives were at the time seriously threatened. It is also possible that Iraq admissions lagged because of September 11—following the attacks, all refugee admissions across the board drastically waned. For example, in FY 2002 (the period directly following September 11), the total number of refugees admitted to the U.S. was 27,113, compared to 69,304 the year before. Thus, resettlement of Iraqi refugees was put “more or less on hold” after September 11.71 In FY 2007, 1,608 Iraqi refugees were admitted, a step up from the 66 in FY 2004, 198 in FY 2005, and 202 in FY 2006. The rank of Iraqis refugees resettled in the U.S. compared to refugees of other countries also rose from 16th in FY 2006 to 7th in FY 2007. Nevertheless, the increase in Iraqi refugee admissions did not come close to the government’s stated goal of admitting 7,000 Iraqi refugees for FY 20077273 (Note: the government does not publish any target goals for the admittance of any refugee group of any nationality, including Iraqis. With that said, sometimes government offi-

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cials state their admission goals for specific groups. The figures represented as “targets” for Iraqi refugee admission come from such statements.) The majority of FY 2007 also featured only handfuls of resettled Iraqi refugees, and in April and May of the year, only 1 Iraqi refugee was resettled during each. Only in the last two months (August and September) of FY 2007 were substantial numbers of Iraqi refugees resettled to the U.S. Regardless of which months the 1,608 Iraqis were resettled in FY 2007, by the end of FY 2007 still only 2,372 Iraqis had been cumulatively resettled to the U.S. since the onset of the war.74 Though significant numbers of Iraqi refugees began to be resettled to the U.S. in August of 2007, not until May of 2008—62 months after the start of the Iraq War—did the numbers reach above 1,000 per month.75 FY 2008 reflected the drastic change in the Bush administration’s approach to the crisis after widespread criticism. President Bush raised the total ceiling for refugee admissions from 70,000 to 80,000, allowing room for more Iraqi refugee admissions. During that year, 13,822 Iraqi refugees were resettled during the year, an even larger amount than the government’s stated goal for the year of 12,000.7677 The rank of Iraqi refugees admitted accordingly moved to 2nd (when it had been 7th the year before), and the last three months of FY 2008 featured the highest rates of Iraqi resettlement compared to any other to this day. For the rest of the Bush administration’s reign and the beginning of Obama’s, all of FY 2009 and so far FY 2010 featured a relatively continued rate of Iraqi refugee resettlement, as initiated in FY 2008. Also, as a result of the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act, both FY 2009 and FY 2010 also included Iraqis associated with the U.S. under their Priority 2 designations.78 Indeed, at first glance it seems that in FY 2009 and FY 2010 the U.S. has done an appropriate job at resettling Iraqis compared to the period in which it greatly failed to respond prior to August of FY 2007. Table 1 also shows that in FY 2009, Iraqis even rose to first on the rank list of arrivals to the United States, with a rate of 25.3% of the total number of refugees admitted, making them a quarter of all refugees arriving in the U.S. Such statistics were an increase from the previous year’s admissions in FY 2008 in which Iraq’s ranked second, with a rate of 23.0% of the total number of refugees admitted. Further, in FY 2009 18,838 Iraqi refugees were admitted to the United States, which was certainly 16

more than any other country’s Iraqi refugee admissions worldwide and again a higher number than the government’s FY 2009 goal of 17,000.79, 80 The category in which Iraqis fall under, Near East/South Asia, also had the largest ceiling in FY 2009 compared to other regions. The only other countries with admission rates even close to that of Iraq in FY 2009 were Burma and Bhutan, both countries experiencing large refugee crises, thus reflecting the U.S. government’s recognition of the urgency of the Iraqi refugee crisis. These trends seemingly warrant hopes of further improvement in U.S. admissions of Iraqis for FY 2010 and subsequent years. Yet a closer look at data that includes not only the numbers of Iraqis who have been admitted to the United States, but also those who have been submitted by UNHCR to go, shows a more complex picture of current Iraqi refugee admissions in the United States. In the majority of months between February 2007 and April 2009, submissions far outpaced admissions, with the exception of June, July, and September of 2008 (see Graph 1). The times in which submissions were most high, including May of 2007 and February-April of 2008, admissions were incredibly low. In the first seven months of 2008, only 2,601 UNHCR-referred Iraqi refugees arrived in the United States, despite the 12,997 that were referred by UNHCR (see Graph 2). The reality of actual admissions compared to referrals “calls into question the commitment of the U.S. authorities to meet their target,” as it is “far below the capacity and responsibility of the U.S.”81 The problem is thus that not enough Iraqi refugees are being admitted in comparison to those who are deemed as having a well-founded fear of persecution. Even though the U.S. admitted more Iraqi refugees in FY 2008 and FY 2009 than its set goals to do so, there is still a tremendous demand and thus a disconnect between the numbers of Iraqis who need resettlement and those who are admitted. In addition, it is possible that the established U.S. resettlement goals were purposely set at low rates so that the government could meet its targets and thus improve good-standing. As a result of low admission rates, UNHCR has also been forced to slow down referrals to prevent the creation of “a large backlog of refugees who have false hopes for resettlement.”82 Slowed UNHCR referrals have created yet an additional problem in which fewer refugees are being referred to the U.S. by UNHCR due to the inefficiency of the USRAP. U.S. government officials have attempted to conceal

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Table 1. U.S. Refugees Admissions of Iraqis Since FY 1991 SOURCE: United States Department of State, Bureau of Populations, Refugees, and Migration, Refugee Processing Center. Retrieved from

Fiscal Year and Month FY 1991 Total: Oct 1, 1990—Sept 30, 1991 FY 1992 Total: Oct 1, 1991—Sept 30, 1992 FY 1993 Total: Oct 1, 1992—Sept 30, 1993 FY 1994 Total: Oct 1, 1993—Sept 30, 1994 FY 1995 Total: Oct 1, 1994—Sept 30, 1995 FY 1996 Total: Oct 1, 1995—Sept 30, 1996 FY 1997 Total: Oct 1, 1996—Sept 30, 1997 FY 1998 Total: Oct 1, 1997—Sept 30, 1998 FY 1999 Total: Oct 1, 1998—Sept 30, 1999 FY 2000 Total: Oct 1, 1999—Sept 30, 2000 FY 2001 Total: Oct 1, 2000—Sept 30, 2001 FY 2002 Total: Oct 1, 2001—Sept 30, 2002 Oct 1—Oct 31, 2002 Nov 1—Nov 30, 2002 Dec 1—Dec 31, 2002 Jan 1—Jan 31, 2003 Feb 1—Feb 28, 2003 Mar 1 - Mar 31, 2003 Apr 1—Apr 30, 2003 May 1—May 31, 2003 June 1—June 30, 2003 July 1, July 31, 2003 Aug 1—Aug 31, 2003 Sept 1—Sept 30, 2003 FY 2003 Total: Oct 1—Oct 31, 2003 Nov 1—Nov 30, 2003 Dec 1—Dec 31, 2003 Jan 1—Jan 31, 2004 Feb 1—Feb 28, 2004 Mar 1 - Mar 31, 2004 Apr 1—Apr 30, 2004 May 1—May 31, 2004

Iraqi Refugees Total Refugees Admitted Admitted 840 113,389 3,440 132,531 4,610 119,448 4,980 112,981 3,480 99,974 2,530 76,403 2,680 70,488 1,410 77,080 1,960 85,525 3,150 73,147 2,470 69,304 465 27,110 0 1,054 40 3,259 54 3,535 8 3,197 17 3,365 16 3,465 25 4,120 70 4,350 15 4,399 26 5,153 0 5,685 27 11,291 298 28,423 0 1,054 4 3,259 1 3,535 3 3,197 8 3,365 3 3,465 0 4,120 21 4,350

Iraqi Refugees as % of Total 0.74% 2.60% 3.86% 4.41% 3.48% 3.31% 3.80% 1.83% 2.29% 4.31% 3.56% 1.71% 0% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% 0% >1% 1.1% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% 0% >1%

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Fiscal Year and Month June 1—June 30, 2004 July 1, July 31, 2004 Aug 1—Aug 31, 2004 Sept 1—Sept 30, 2004 FY 2004 Total: Oct 1—Oct 31, 2005 Nov 1—Nov 30, 2005 Dec 1—Dec 31, 2005 Jan 1—Jan 31, 2006 Feb 1—Feb 28, 2006 Mar 1 - Mar 31, 2006 Apr 1—Apr 30, 2006 May 1—May 31, 2006 June 1—June 30, 2006 July 1, July 31, 2006 Aug 1—Aug 31, 2006 Sept 1—Sept 30, 2006 FY 2005 Total: Oct 1—Oct 31, 2005 Nov 1—Nov 30, 2005 Dec 1—Dec 31, 2005 Jan 1—Jan 31, 2006 Feb 1—Feb 28, 2006 Mar 1 - Mar 31, 2006 Apr 1—Apr 30, 2006 May 1—May 31, 2006 June 1—June 30, 2006 July 1, July 31, 2006 Aug 1—Aug 31, 2006 Sept 1—Sept 30, 2006 FY 2006 Total: Oct 1—Oct 31, 2006 Nov 1—Nov 30, 2006 Dec 1—Dec 31, 2006 Jan 1—Jan 31, 2007


Iraqi Refugees Total Refugees Admitted Admitted 14 4,399 0 5,153 7 5,685 5 11,291 66 52,873 8 3,000 1 4,835 3 3,537 0 2,701 0 3,124 3 3,621 0 2,919 47 3,494 57 4,997 30 5,730 2 4,799 47 11,056 198 53,813 0 1,677 10 3,338 8 2,777 5 2,387 17 2,065 21 2,846 9 2,060 7 2,867 102 4,519 1 6,201 18 6,251 4 11,294 202 41,223 8 1,677 9 3,338 17 2,777 15 2,387

Iraqi Refugees as % of Total >1% 0% >1% >1% 0.01% >1% >1% >1% 0% 0% >1% 0% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% 0.03% 0% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% >1% 0.5% >1% >1% >1% >1%

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Fiscal Year and Month Feb 1—Feb 28, 2007 Mar 1 - Mar 31, 2007 Apr 1—Apr 30, 2007 (Bush) May 1—May 31, 2007 (Bush) June 1—June 30, 2007 (Bush) July 1, July 31, 2007 (Bush) Aug 1—Aug 31, 2007 (Bush) Sept 1—Sept 30, 2007 (Bush) FY 2007 Total: Oct 1—Oct 31, 2007 Nov 1—Nov 30, 2007 (Bush) Dec 1—Dec 31, 2007 (Bush) Jan 1—Jan 31, 2008 (Bush) Feb 1—Feb 28, 2008 (Bush) Mar 1 - Mar 31, 2008 (Bush) Apr 1—Apr 30, 2008 (Bush) May 1—May 31, 2008 (Bush) June 1—June 30, 2008 (Bush) July 1, July 31, 2008 (Bush) Aug 1—Aug 31, 2008 (Bush) Sept 1—Sept 30, 2008 (Bush) FY 2008 Total: Oct 1—Oct 31, 2008 Nov 1—Nov 30, 2008 (Bush) Dec 1—Dec 31, 2008 (Bush) Jan 1—Jan 31, 2009 (Obama) Feb 1—Feb 28, 2009 (Obama) Mar 1 - Mar 31, 2009 (Obama) Apr 1—Apr 30, 2009 (Obama) May 1—May 31, 2009 (Obama) June 1—June 30, 2009 (Obama) July 1, July 31, 2009 (Obama) Aug 1—Aug 31, 2009 (Obama) Sept 1—Sept 30, 2009 (Obama) FY 2009 Total:

Iraqi Refugees Total Refugees Admitted Admitted 11 2,065 8 2,846 1 2,060 1 2,867 63 4,519 57 6,201 529 6,251 889 11,294 1,608 48,281 450 1,919 362 2,704 245 2,640 375 3,321 444 3,640 751 4,622 974 4,226 1,141 5,335 1,721 6,836 2,352 7,844 2,184 7,152 2,824 9,953 13,822 60,192 705 3,294 738 7,416 1,558 4,392 1,405 5,405 1,471 5,598 1,888 6,893 1,816 7,001 2,056 7,255 1,900 8,163 1,656 6,498 1,772 6,984 1,867 9,049 18,833 74,652

Iraqi Refugees as % of Total >1% >1% >1% >1% 1.4 % >1% 8.5% 7.9% 3.3% 13.4% 13.4% 9.3% 11.3% 12.2% 16.2% 23.0% 21.4% 25.2% 30.0% 30.5% 28.4% 23.0% 21.4% 10.0% 35.5% 30.0% 26.3% 27.4% 26.0% 28.3% 23.3% 25.5% 25.4% 20.6% 25.3%

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this process by portraying the number of UNHCR referrals as “stagnant.” Such a numbers game does not serve to meet the needs of those who have been most endangered by U.S. action in Iraq. Nevertheless, although the U.S. could be far more generous in the number of Iraqis it admits, at the same time there has undeniably been a demonstrated improvement. Under the SIV program, the U.S. government has been able to directly resettle 6,330 Iraqi and Afghani translators and former employees to the U.S. and their families,83 outside of the bureaucracy of the USRAP and its lieu of challenges. The program shows hope that the U.S. recognizes the crisis and its urgency, and is willing to take action. As confirmed by Paula Dobriansky, the former Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, “We are committed to honoring our moral debt to those Iraqis who have provided assistance to the U.S. military and embassy.”84 Yet when it comes to implementation, the SIV program has had its struggles as well. In 2006, there was a six year waiting list for the program.85 Though that period has been reduced, there is still a 1 year wait for those Iraqis who are most in danger due to their relationship with the U.S. In FY 2007 and FY 2008, “only 200 of the nearly 1700 names referred to the State Department from the most comprehensive list of U.S.-affiliated Iraqis were admitted,” and only 600 of the allocated 5,000 SIVs were issued in FY 2008.86 Human Rights First also found that of the 20,000 Iraqis with American ties who have applied for the SIV program since 2003, only 4,000 have been resettled, or 20%.87 The SIV program is clearly not meeting its objective, and has fallen short of meeting the allocations that have been allotted to U.S.-affiliated Iraqi refugees. The fact that the U.S. has been unable to resettle even a substantial number of the Iraqis who have been most in danger due their affiliation with the U.S. makes the fate of unaffiliated Iraqis even less hopeful. Additionally, the SIV program has represented the disconnect that exists between the promises of the government and the actual outcomes of Iraqi refugee admissions, representing a direct consequence of U.S. refugee policy. Finally, even though improvements have occurred, both the USRAP and SIV program have yet to effectively respond to the admission needs of Iraqi refugees. The USRAP and SIV program have featured serious limitations, including inefficiency and low rates of admission, that have prevented the U.S. from actu20

ally addressing the crisis in a meaningful way. Neither President Bush nor Obama have used the unallocated reserve to resettle more Iraqis, increased the average rate of admissions per month since May of 2008, nor devised any special programs to airlift or resettle hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. As important as RCIA and other measures have been in increasing the numbers of Iraqi refugees admitted to the United States, the U.S. has simply not responded to the Iraqi refugee crisis in terms of admissions as it has with other previous cases of displacement that it played a part in causing. To this date, only 35,830 Iraqis have been admitted to the U.S. (from FY 2003 to October of FY 2010). In comparison, the U.S. took 157,000 refugees from Kosovo and Bosnia, 600,000 from the former Soviet Union, and more than a million refugees from Vietnam.88 Additionally, no special initiatives have been devised to alleviate the plight of Iraqi refugees, such as President Ronald Reagan’s 1980 initiative to speedily admit Cuban and Haitian refugees through ad hoc, temporary status even though provisions of the Refugee Act of 1980 banned refugees from entering the U.S. on parole.89 Some members of Congress, including Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-MA), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) have thus criticized the measures to increase Iraqi admissions as token gestures.90 Based on the argument developed of this thesis that U.S. refugee policy is strongly influenced by U.S. foreign policy, especially when the U.S. has an interest in delegitimizing or legitimizing another government, this thesis argues that the United States’ inadequate handling of the Iraqi refugee crisis at the admission level has resulted chiefly because of foreign policy-related objectives of legitimizing Iraq, and thus the United States’ reputation and its mission in the country. First, the U.S. remains to not yet fully address the Iraqi refugee crisis because doing so would delegitimize the government of Iraq. As the U.S. is still heavily invested in re-building Iraq, a complete, responsible response to the crisis is not in its best interest in terms of foreign policy, as it would expose the country’s instability and its inability to take care of its own citizens. This approach been evidenced by the fact that the United States’ initial absent approach to the crisis only changed after widespread criticism. As the new Iraqi administration is “attempting to prove its authority in the face of carnage and despair”,91 a sudden U.S. response to the crisis, such as through

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Graph 1. In the majority of months between February 2007 and April 2009, UNHCR-referred Iraqi refugee submissions far outpaced admissions, with the exception of June, July, and September of 2008. (Source: International Refugee Committee)

a massive airlift, would invalidate the Iraqi government’s fragile facade of ensuring order. As evidenced by the fear of one Shi’ite lawmaker in Baghdad, the rise of Iraqi refugee figures has the potential to “make Iraq appear less stable than it really is.”92 Addressing the crisis would also mean admitting the debilitating, long-term effects that the displacement has had and will have on Iraq, such as “the challenge that Iraq’s most talented citizens are leaving their country” and “thereby compound the problems that Iraq will face in the future.”93 In sum, foreign policy aims of legitimizing Iraq had prevented the U.S. from responding effectively and fully to the crisis. Second, the drastic action needed to address the refugee crisis that would delegitimize the Iraqi government would have the additional negative effect of de-legitimizing the United States. In short, it would signify that the United States’ policies failed to build stability in Iraq, and reveal that instead they have resulted in a “dysfunctional government and a political system that rewards identity politics…sectarianism, and tribalism.”94 As described by Cohen: “One reason the Bush administration has failed fully to do more to help Iraq’s refugees is that doing so would require an implicit admission that its politics have not produced peace and stability in Iraq but rather a refugee crisis.”95 Thus the acceptance of large numbers of refugees from Iraq would be an “embarrassing admission of failure” for the U.S.96 Perhaps most importantly, addressing the crisis would also entail the United States’ acknowledgement that the Iraqi people had lost faith in the United States’ military objectives in Iraq. Bar-

bara Bodine, a longtime U.S. diplomat in the Middle East who was made to be the temporary mayor of Baghdad in 2003, succinctly sums up this consequence that addressing the crisis would have for the United States: “When you affirm you have refugees and I.D.P.’s . . . you are admitting that the average Iraqi has little or no expectation that Bush’s surge can reverse a security situation that has spun utterly out of control. This is not a loss of faith in Iraq, per se, but in the current governments of Iraq and Washington.”97 More broadly, a strong response to the refugee crisis would cast doubt upon the U.S. in general, as well as its ability to carry out its foreign policy goals. It could also be reminiscent of previous U.S. failures in foreign policy, since “there is an unspoken concern in some governing circles about a repeat of the refugee flows from Indochina after the Vietnam War, regardless of the cause.”98 Thus, due to the consequences that would occur for the United States’ international reputation and thus foreign policy, the U.S. has had a vested interest in denying the reality of the Iraqi refugee crisis. Third, addressing the Iraqi refugee crisis could also be potentially harmful to the United States’ mission in Iraq, providing even more incentive for the U.S. to not handle it as it has previous refugee crises. This position has been especially pointed out by leading Republican members of Congress. For example, House Representative Dana Rohrabacher has argued that “the last thing we want to do is to have people who are friendly to democracy . . . moving here in large numbers at a time when they’re needed to build a new, thriving Iraq . . . . Now is the time that we should

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Graph 2. From February 2007 to April 2009, the total number of UNHCR-referred Iraqi refugee submissions continually exceeded the total number of Iraqi refugees admitted to the United States. (Source: International Refugee Committee)

be calling on the refugees from Iraq to go home.”99 As it is arguably too unsafe for many Iraqi refugees to return home, especially those with connections to the United States, this perspective demonstrates the foreign policy incentives embedded in the United States’ approach to the crisis. Thus, the fact that the proper handling of the refugee crisis could weaken U.S. efforts in Iraq is enough of a reason for the government to delay admission rates. These factors have greatly influenced the United States’ response to the Iraqi refugee crisis, influencing it to prioritize foreign policy-related concerns over humanitarian concerns in its decision of how to approach the displacement. On the other hand, it is arguable that other dimensions involved in the Iraq case, including the timing of the war and security concerns, make it not possible for the U.S. to respond as hastily as it has in other cases. It is thus possible that it is unrealistic to compare the current Iraqi refugee crisis to previous cases, as well as to blame the United States’ approach to the crisis completely on foreign policy matters. First, the timing of the refugee crisis amidst a pseudo state of war greatly complicates the United States’ ability to meaningfully respond, even if it has intended to do so. It is arguable that this is not necessarily an ethical lapse either—during warfare, governments often must prioritize their military objectives over their humanitarian ideals. This timing makes it less realistic to compare current Iraqi refugee policies 22

to preceding ones in U.S. history that were admirably responded to, as many were addressed after the conclusion of war, when military objectives were no longer highly at stake. For example, with Vietnamese refugees in 1975, the U.S. was able to commit to alleviating the crisis because it followed a clear U.S. defeat.100 Thus, the U.S. had nothing to lose in its response to the crisis. In the Iraqi case on the other hand, “no U.S. administration may be ready to acknowledge” yet its failures in Iraq, making it almost impossible to prioritize humanitarian concerns over military objectives.101 Additionally, in the Vietnam case, there was less pressure on the U.S. to admit all of the refugees on its own, since states in Southeast Asia were “largely willing to host the refugees and pressed for resettlement.”102 This context contributed to the U.S. commitment to addressing refugee needs in Vietnam. The countries neighboring Iraq on the other hand quite differ in this regard. It is unclear whether again timing has to do with this difference, as it is possible that if Iraq had triumphed in the war, other Middle Eastern countries would unite through pride and share the burden of the humanitarian aftermath. In sum, the fact that the Iraqi refugee crisis is occurring during a time of continued war makes it difficult to alleviate humanitarian issues that would be otherwise perhaps better addressed post-conflict. It is arguable however that rather being a reason not to address the displacement, the timing of the Iraqi refugee crisis could be crucial in determining the

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outcome of the war. Ultimately, the United States’ success in Iraq will be determined by its ability to develop stability in the country while minimizing the consequences of doing so. Yet if the Iraqi refugee crisis is not addressed, such a risk-reduced outcome will not be possible. The fact that the crisis remains yet to be fully addressed in spite of this point reveals the possibility that other foreign policy objectives are of more importance than the actual stability of Iraq (such as U.S. dominance in the region, oil deals, etc.). Second, domestic security concerns might be another factor that has led to the United States’ particularly slow response to the Iraqi refugee crisis. The Iraqi refugee crisis, at the most basic level, has been exasperated by security concerns in the aftermath of September 11. One of the primary objectives of the Iraq War was to quell terrorist networks, and thus the war has had an inherent priority on preventing such threats in the region from entering the U.S. Such security concerns have caused numerous logistical and motivational limitations on the admission of Iraqi refugees due to their being from the Middle East and associated with the terrorist threat. Indeed, the Bush administration’s main justification as to why its resettlement of Iraqi refugees had been inefficient was due to the security provisions that had been built into the USRAP following September 11, such as stringent interview processes. For example, Sauerbrey stated on behalf of the government, “the administration explained that [the slow response] was due to the fact that Congress had enacted significant changes in the law that created a need for much enhanced security testing.”103 The security screening procedures established by the Department of Homeland Security did in fact significantly slow the processing of applicants in the region.104 Such provisions did not exist during Operation Newlife or Operation Pacific Haven: the fear of terrorism in the United States has been a relatively recent phenomenon, and though it existed during previous refugee crises that the U.S. has responded to, its threat was not at the extent that is now. As it is possible that many terrorist networks have bred within Iraq, and possibly increasingly spread to Iraqi refugees who have become more and more disenchanted with the U.S. as a result of their circumstances, the U.S. government has and must take into account the fear of terrorists when considering resettling Iraqi refugees. These circumstances make the Iraqi refugee crisis uniquely tied to security concerns and thus

undeniably different than previous crises. Yet a closer look at the actual threat of Iraqi refugees undermines the decision to not appropriately respond to the crisis purely because of security concerns. Though ensuring the security of its citizens by monitoring those who enter its borders is perhaps the main role of a government, and thus the U.S. has been correct in placing precedence on security concerns in its handling of the Iraqi refugee crisis, the prioritization of security concerns over meeting urgent humanitarian needs may have been misplaced. As Cohen argues, it is highly unlikely that Iraqi refugees are prone to terrorism, as the majority are mostly middle class professionals who are less receptive to extremist behaviors.105 Lower-class Iraqis, those who are instead more likely to turn to terrorist activities, have predominantly had no choice but to stay within Iraq and are thus less of a threat to the USRAP process. Still, security concerns must remain a high priority. Yet taking into account the actual extent of the threat offered by Iraqi refugees, as well as the significant range of long-term consequences the U.S. faces for not responding to the crisis, it is hard to believe that the U.S. has failed to accurately respond to the crisis simply due to terrorism-related security concerns—foreign policy has almost certainly played a significant role. The United States’ response to the Iraqi refugee crisis has thus been inextricably linked to its foreign policy objectives in Iraq. In addition to timing and security concerns, the U.S. has not responded to the Iraqi refugee crisis as it has to others in its past because doing so would delegitimize the Iraqi government, the United States, and the U.S. mission in Iraq. As a result, the U.S. has responded to the Iraqi refugee crisis with inconsistent admission rates, failing to respond adequately to a refugee crisis of its own doing. It has simply been more important for the U.S. to positively portray the government of Iraq rather than expose the dreadful human rights crimes and destructive conditions that its displaced citizens must face. Though it is too soon to tell whether President Obama will significantly change the United States’ course of action in Iraqi refugee admissions, it is most likely that the same foreign policy factors that have prevented an adequate U.S. response to the crisis under the Bush administration will continue to weigh upon the USRAP’s admission outcomes under Obama’s presidency.

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Conclusion Though originally non-existent, the U.S. government’s response to the Iraqi refugee crisis has increasingly grown to acknowledge the extent of Iraqi displacement and its own obligation to address the crisis. Still, the U.S. response to the Iraqi refugee crisis remains inadequate and inefficient, as admission figures fail to reflect the United States’ capacity to alleviate the crisis. Futhermore, no special initiatives have been devised to resettle the hundreds of thousands of refugees from Iraq, unlike in previous refugee crises, and SIV admissions continue to miss the quota. The continued obstacles facing Iraqi refugees, despite the supposed change in direction by the government, speak to the significant role that foreign policy has played in the United States’ policy toward Iraqi refugees. This paper has put forth the argument that the primary reason that the U.S. has failed to respond fully and meaningfully to the Iraqi refugee crisis is because doing so would delegitimize the government of Iraq and thus the U.S. and the U.S. mission in Iraq. The failure of the U.S. to fully address the Iraqi refugee crisis due to the diplomatic implications of doing so has resulted in more harm than benefit, since the Iraqi refugee crisis will have severe implications on the United States’ international standing, its success in Iraq, and its role in the Middle East for decades to come. The United States’ failure to lead has had a negative impact on the response by other countries to the refugee crisis as well. The resettlement experience of Iraqi refugees on the whole highlights the severe inadequacies of U.S. refugee policy and the need for reforming USRAP as a whole. The USRAP has failed to exhibit the flexibility needed to meet the needs of the most endangered refugees during times of crisis. Additionally, its implementation and outcomes have not reflected its stated intentions. This paper puts forth the following policy recommendations for reform of the USRAP, using the Iraqi refugee crisis as a case study: first, the USRAP should change the ceiling system to better correlate with refugees’ needs rather than foreign policy advantages. This can be done by establishing an independent, unbiased advisory board that determines refugee quotas, rather than the President, and by developing a separate quota system for politically advantageous 24

admissions so that they do not undermine urgent humanitarian crises. Second, the USRAP should be given more flexibility to allow special admission programs to be devised quickly and effectively during times of crisis. This can be achieved by instituting a uniform policy for the United States’ approach toward refugee crises which it has played a primary role in causing, initiating a special task force for urgent crises that can develop and implement special programs when needed, and ensuring that once laws are passed to increase refugee admittance quotas, the quotas are filled.

Notes 1. Don Barnett, “A New Era of Refugee Resettlement,” Center for Immigration Studies, 2. Michael Sandler, “Iraqi Refugee Issue Raises Memories of Vietnam Exit—and Security Fears,” CQ Today, January 16, 2007, http://www.wrapsnet. org/Documents/ArticlesPublications/tabid/180/ language/en-US/Default.aspx. 3. Jennifer Rikoski and Jonathan Finer, “Out Of Iraq: The U.S. Legal Regime Governing Iraqi Refugee Resettlement,” Rutgers Law Record 34 (2009): 48. 4. Examples include: Amnesty International, 2008; Center for American Progress, 2009; Human Rights Action, 2009; Human Rights First, 2009; International Rescue Committee, 2008 and 2009; and the List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies. 5. “Reps. Delahunt-DeLauro-Hastings Urge Iraq Surplus for Refugees,” Federal News Service, April 9, 2008, doc/1P3-1459514231.html. 6. Joseph Sassoon, The Iraqi Refugees: The New Crisis in the Middle East (London: I.B. Tauris, 2009), 11. 7. International Rescue Committee, “In Dire Straits: A Report of the IRC Commission on Iraqi Refugees,” June 2009, files/resource-file/irc_report_iraqcommission.pdf. 8. Rhoda Margesson, Andorra Bruno, and Jeremy M. Sharp, “Iraqi Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: A Deepening Humanitarian Crisis,” Congressional Research Service, February 13, 2009, RL33936.pdf. 9. Sabrina Tavernise, “Well-Off Fleeing Iraq Find Poverty and Pain in Jordan,” New York Times, August 10, 2007, http://www.nytimes. com/2007/08/10/world/middleeast/10refugees. html.

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10. International Rescue Committee, “Five Years Later, A Hidden Crisis: Report of the IRC Commission on Iraqi Refugees,” March 2008, http://www.rescue. org/sites/default/files/migrated/resources/2008/ iraq_report.pdf. 11. “Obama’s Speech at Camp Lejeune, N.C.,” New York Times, February 27, 2009, http://www.nytimes. com/2009/02/27/us/politics/27obama-text.html. 12. Natalie Ondiak and Brian Katulis, “Operation Safe Haven Iraq 2009: An Action Plan for Airlifting Endangered Iraqis Linked to the United States,” January 2009, 4, http://www.americanprogress. org/issues/2009/01/pdf/iraqi_refugees.pdf. 13. Congressional Budget Office, “Contractors’ Support of U.S. Operations in Iraq,” August 2008, 2, 14. “About the Crisis,” The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies, html. 15. International Rescue Committee, “Five Years Later,” 5. 16. Ibid. 17. Ibid., 4. 18. Roberta Cohen, “Iraq’s Displaced: Where to Turn?,” American University International Law Review 24 (2008): 305. 19. Cohen, “Iraq’s Displaced,” 306. 20. Rikoski and Finer, “Out of Iraq,” 47. 21. Amnesty International, “Rhetoric and Reality: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis,” November 2008, 3, MDE14/011/2008/en/2e602733-42da-11dd-9452091b75948109/mde140112008eng.pdf. 22. Marc R. Rosenblum, “Immigration and U.S. National Interests: Historical Cases and the Contemporary Debate” in Terry E. Givens, Gary P. Freeman, and David L. Leal, eds., Immigration Policy and Security: U.S., European, and Commonwealth Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2009): 29. 23. Idean Salehyan, “U.S. Asylum and Refugee Policy Towards Muslim Nations Since 9/11,” in Terry E. Givens, Gary P. Freeman, and David L. Leal, eds., Immigration Policy and Security: U.S., European, and Commonwealth Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2009): 57 See also: Michael Teitelbaum, “Immigration, Refugees, and Foreign Policy,” International Organization 38 (1984): 429450; Gil Loescher, Beyond Charity: International Cooperation and the Global Refugee Crisis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993); and Marc R. Rosenblum and Idean Salehyan, “Norms and Interests in U.S. Asylum Enforcement,” Journal of Peace Research 41 (2004): 677-697.

24. James Hathaway, “A Reconsideration of the Underlying Premise of Refugee Law,” Harvard International Law Journal 31 (1990): 129. 25. Stephen H. Legomsky, “The Making of U.S. Refugee Policy: Separation of Powers in the PostCold War Era,” Washington Law Review 70 (1995): 36. 26. In this paper, USRAP will always refer to the United States Refugee Admissions Program. 27. Salehyan, “U.S. Asylum and Refugee Policy,” 54 28. “Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2010,” submitted on behalf of the President to the Comms. on the Judiciary of the Senate and the House of Representatives, documents/organization/129393.pdf. 29. Rikoski and Finer, “Out of Iraq,” 48 30. “Presidents and Precedents,” The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies, ACPresidentsandPrecedents.html. 31. Cohen, “Iraq’s Displaced,” 2. 32. “What is the History of Refugee Resettlement in the U.S.?,” Arizona Refugee Advancement Coalition, php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=36 (link no longer available). 33. Miriam Potocky-Tripodi, “Immigration and Refugee Policies,” in Best Practices for Social Work with Refugees and Immigrants (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002): 57. 34. “Presidents and Precedent.” 35. Rikoski and Finer, “Out of Iraq,” 49 36. Christian Joppke, “A Nation of Immigration Again” in Immigration and the Nation-State: The United States, Germany, and Great Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999): 51. 37. Ibid. See also: Teitelbaum, “Immigration, Refugees, and Foreign Policy;” Loescher, Beyond Charity; Rosenblum, “Immigration and U.S. National Interests.” 38. Kathleen Newland, “Impact of U.S. Refugee Policies on U.S. Foreign Policy: A Case of the Tail Wagging the Dog?” in Michael S. Teitelbaum and Myron Weiner, eds., Threatened Peoples, Threatened Borders: World Migration and U.S. Policy (New York: The American Assembly, 1995): 190-214. 39. Rosenblum, “Immigration and U.S. National Interests,” 17 40. Ibid., 9. 41. Donald Kerwin, Harold Brandon, Vincent Cannistraro, and Angela Kelley, Immigration Policy, Law Enforcement, and National Security (Staten Island, NY: Center for Migration Studies, 2003): 5. 42. Salehyan, “Norms and Interests,” 57.

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43. Rikoski and Finer, “Out of Iraq,” 49. 44. Ibid., 50. 45. Cohen, “Iraq’s Displaced,” 9. 46. Nir Rosen, “The Flight From Iraq,” New York Times Magazine, May 13, 2007, 12, http://www.nytimes. com/2007/05/13/magazine/13refugees-t.html. 47. Rikoski and Finer, “Out of Iraq,” 5. 48. Spencer S. Hsu and Robin Wright, “Crocker Blasts Refugee Process: Iraqis Could Wait 2 Years for Entry, Ambassador Says,” Washington Post, September 17, 2007, http://www.washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/content /article/2007/09/16/ AR2007091601698.html. 49. Ondiak and Katulis, “Operation Safe Haven,” 7. 50. Human Rights First, “Promises to the Persecuted: The Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2008,” April 2009, 1, pdf/090428-RP-iraqi-progress.pdf. 51. Sassoon, The Iraqi Refugees, 111. 52. Ondiak and Katulis, “Out of Iraq,” 6. 53. Amnesty International, “Rhetoric and Reality,” 3. 54. Rikoski & Finer, “Out of Iraq,” 50. 55. Ondiak and Katulis, “Operation Safe Haven,” 7. 56. Kelly O’Donnell and Kathleen Newland, “The Iraqi Refugee Crisis: The Need for Action,” Migration Policy Institute, 2008, 19, http://www. Crisis_The_Need_for_Action_011808.pdf. 57. Human Rights First, “How to Confront the Iraqi Refugee Crisis: Blueprint for the New Administration,” December 2008, 3, http://www. 58. Cohen, “Iraq’s Displaced,” 11. 59. Ibid. 60. Human Rights First, “How to Confront,” 3. 61. Ibid. 62. Barack Obama, “Turning the Page in Iraq” (prepared remarks, Clinton, IA, September 12, 2007), remarks_of_senator_barack_obam_23.php. 63. “Obama’s Speech at Camp Lejeune, N.C.” 64. Ibid. 65. Ibid. 66. Cohen, “Iraq’s Displaced,” 10. 67. International Rescue Committee, “In Dire Straits,” 1. 68. Milica Trpevska, “Tough Economy Another Hurdle for Iraqi Refugees in the U.S.,” Scripps Howard News Service, August 18, 2009, http:// 69. Sassoon, The Iraqi Refugees, 110. 70. Barnett, “A New Era,” 2. 26

71. Ibid. 72. Nora Boustany, “House Bill Would Admit More Iraqi Refugees,” Washington Post, May 10, 2007, article/2007/05/09/AR2007050902392.html. 73. In 2007, the Department of State’s Undersecretary for Global Affairs announced that the U.S. intended to resettle 7,000 Iraqi refugees in FY 2007. 74. “Iraqi Refugees Resettled in U.S. through August 1, 2009,” U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, October 5, 2009. 75. Ibid. 76. “United States to Welcome 12,000 More Iraqi Refugees in 2008,”, February 6, 2008, cm0.824032.html. 77. In 2008, the Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugees stated that the United States’ goal was to resettle 12,000 Iraqi refugees in FY 2008. 78. The “Proposed Refugee Admissions” report submitted on behalf of the President to the Committees of the Judiciary of both houses of Congress stated that, “Under various Priority 2 designations, including those set forth in the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act, employees of the USG, a USG-funded contractor or grantee, and U.S. media and NGOs working in Iraq, and certain family members of such employees, as well as beneficiaries of approved I-130 (immigrant visa) petitions, are eligible for refugee processing in Iraq.” See “Proposed Refugee Admissions,” 10. 79. “Iraq: Events of 2008,” Human Rights Watch, 80. In 2009, the Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugees stated that the United States’ goal was to resettle 17,000 Iraqi refugees in FY 2009. See ibid. 81. Amnesty International, “Rhetoric and Reality,” 56. 82. International Rescue Committee, “Five Years Later,” 9. 83. James Janega and Antonio Olivo, “For Iraqi refugees, life in America has left them with few options,” Chicago Tribune, October 27, 2009, nationworld/sns-200910280803mctnewsservbciraqirefugees-tb3374,0,3177828.story. 84. Rosen, “The Flight,” 12. 85. Sassoon, “The Iraqi Refugees,” 110. 86. Ondiak and Katulis, “Operation Safe Haven,” 8. 87. Human Rights First, “Promises to the Persecuted.” 88. Sudarsan Raghavan, “Iraqis with Ties to U.S. Cross Border Into Despair,” Washington Post, November

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17, 2007, content/article/2007/11/16/AR2007111602268.html. 89. Cohen, “Iraq’s Displaced, 11. 90. “Reps. Delahunt-DeLauro-Hastings Urge Iraq Surplus.” 91. Amnesty International, “Rhetoric and Reality,” 4. 92. Alexander Higgins, “UN: Most Iraqi refugees in program go to U.S.,” Boston Globe, October 16, 2009, middleeast/articles/2009/10/16/un_most_iraqi_ refugees_in_program_go_to_us/. 93. Sassoon, “The Iraqi Refugees,” 10. 94. Ibid., 2. 95. Ibid., 10. 96. Barnett, “A New Era,” 2. 97. Rosen, “The Flight,” 11. 98. Barnett, “A New Era,” 2. 99. As cited in Walter Pincus, “House Panel Debates Iraqi Refugee Quandary,” Washington Post, March 17, 2008, content/article/2008/03/16/AR2008031601784. html. 100. As cited in Cohen, “Iraq’s Displaced,” 11. 101. Ibid. 102. Ibid. 103. Rosen, “The Flight,” 15. 104. O’Donnell and Newland, “The Iraqi Refugee Crisis,” 17. 105. Ibid., 8.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS Allison Briggs is a student in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she will graduate in 2013 with a B.A. in Biostatistics and a minor in Mathematics. A public health counselor at the Student Health Action Coalition and an undergraduate research assistant for the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Briggs is interested in epidemiology and community health systems. Grayson Cooper is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he will graduate in 2012 with a dual B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies on Educational Entrepreneurship and Mathematics and a minor in Business Administration. This past year, Cooper served as the Lead Education Policy Strategist and Vice President of Roosevelt’s UNC-Chapel Hill chapter, and as Editorin-Chief of Roosevelt’s regional journal, Solutions for the South. Grayson’s primary policy interests are in education, having spent this past spring in Washington, D.C. working with Friendship Public Charter School’s turnaround effort at Anacostia Senior High School. Jason Dunn is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he will graduate in 2013 with a B.A. in Economics and minors in Chemistry and Business Administration. Dunn first became interested in desalination after taking an Environmental Studies class on water resource management at UNC-Chapel Hill. Emily Zuehlke is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she will graduate in 2014 with a dual B.A. in Environmental Health and Chemistry. Zuehlke works with social justice groups through the campus YMCA, volunteers in science classes at a local elementary school, and enjoys cooking and distance running. After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, Zuehlke plans to pursue a Master of Public Health.

Desalination A Comprehensive Examination ALLISON BRIGGS, GRAYSON COOPER, JASON DUNN, and EMILY ZUEHLKE University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Water scarcity is an issue of growing concern around the world and international disputes over water boundaries frequently inflame tensions between water-scarce nations, at times resulting in even military conflicts. Desalination, the process by which excess salt and other contaminants are removed from water, is increasingly sought as a means of alleviating existing shortages. While desalination techniques have long been practiced in the Persian Gulf, North Africa, and island nations, its prohibitive expense has prevented it from coming into widespread commercial use. Still, rising concerns about water security have renewed an interest in desalination technology in many parts of the world, where traditional water supplies are becoming quickly exhausted. Any proposal to implement desalination technology widely, however, demands a closer review of its practical feasibility, given the considerable technological, environmental, and economic

considerations that surround desalination technology. Due to its high cost, the implementation of desalination technology is often hampered from the very beginning by a lack of adequate funding. Furthermore, once implemented, desalination technology is often poorly regulated—if at all. This paper will examine the public policies that must be in place before desalination technology can be successfully implemented. We will recommend a multi-tiered approach for improving access to water through the use of desalination techniques, including the forging of regional agreements, the establishment of new funding structures, and the adoption of international tariffs to support both desalination infrastructure and future research and development. Taken together, each method will address concerns particular to both developed and developing countries, with the goal of helping water-scarce regions around the world attain long-term water security.

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Introduction A photograph of the planet would not suggest that water scarcity is an issue. Water covers 70% of the Earth’s surface area, yet only 3% of that supply is freshwater, and an even smaller percentage is readily available for human consumption. A necessity for human life, water resources are simultaneously threatened by environmental degradation, climate change, and the demands of an ever-expanding human population. To cope with water scarcity, communities have turned to a variety of alternative water sources, such as pumping aquifers and transporting water hundreds of miles from its source. Having nearly exhausted many sources of water, humans have invented innovative processes to purify remaining water supplies and to create new freshwater  sources from previously non-potable water. One such process that shows particular potential is desalination. Desalination, or the method by which excess salt and contaminants are removed from water, is one of the oldest natural water purification techniques in the world and is widely used on board ships to provide drinking water. Historically, however, the costs of desalination have made it prohibitively expensive for widespread commercial use, yet growing concerns over water scarcity have renewed interest in this technology as a means to supplement traditional supplies. While desalination has long been used in the Persian Gulf, North Africa, and island nations, it is now being more deliberately considered in places such as Australia and California, where traditional water supplies are nearly exhausted. Still, any consideration of widespread implementation of desalination technology demands a closer review of its practical feasibility, given the multitude of technological, environmental, and economic considerations that surround desalination, as well as the policies that must be in place before desalination can be successfully implemented. The multi-tiered approach set forth in this paper will integrate regional agreements, new funding structures, and international tariffs to promote the sustainable and expedient expansion of water delivery to traditionally underserved areas. Taken together, each method will address concerns specific to both developed and developing countries. Given the nuances of the challenges faced by each water-scarce region, including the unique envi30

ronmental conditions particular to each location and the potential for boundary conflicts between nations, desalination implementation should be arbitered through multilateral regional agreements. As stakeholders who would bear the brunt of the environmental impact of desalination, the cooperating countries will have a strong incentive to minimize the environmental impact of desalination efforts. However, in developing areas, regional agreements may be insufficient. Therefore, funding structures, especially subsidies from the World Bank, can be particularly helpful in determining which sites are candidates for desalination. Finally, for countries that are relatively isolated, but also financially independent, global tariffs can be placed on products made with desalinated water. Additional taxes can also be placed on products that use desalinated water that also rely on non-renewable energy or have other significant environmental consequences. Since these tariffs would be applied on international trade only, they would actually increase the availability of freshwater within the country, while simultaneously restricting the non-essential production of desalinated water for exported goods. This measure would directly address concerns that developed countries are unfairly imposing regulations upon developing countries, since the funds generated by these tariffs could be reinvested into research and development to find new ways to further increase access to freshwater in poorer countries.

Analysis What is Desalination? As ocean salinity increases and most freshwater is diverted from rivers before reaching the mouth, access to water is becoming a larger and larger problem across the planet. Desalination is the process by which salt is removed from saltwater in order to produce freshwater. Water is classified as fresh if it contains less than 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of salt. Ocean water, on average, contains 35,000 ppm of salt. Ocean water salinity is constantly increasing due to a variety of factors.1 The cost of desalinating water can vary greatly: one plant in Florida, for example, operates at only $650 per acre-foot (compared to the average of about $1000 per acre-foot). Collecting water from tradition-

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al sources, such as ground or surface water, costs an average of $200 per acre-foot.2 The price difference, however, must be viewed in light of the impending shortage of traditional freshwater supplies. Investment in desalination research, therefore, will actually conserve money and resources in the long run. There are several different desalination techniques available. The most efficient techniques are currently used in areas that have no other sources of freshwater available. For the time being, it is economically inefficient to invest in desalination in most parts of the world. Desalination technology, however, is constantly advancing, and there is hope that soon, desalination will be more cost-efficient than pumping water over long distances or from groundwater reservoirs. Desalination naturally occurs as part of the hydrological cycle, when solar radiation heats up ocean water, causing it to evaporate, condense, and return to the Earth as rainwater. The natural hydrological cycle has been used for thousands of years to collect freshwater that has fallen from the sky.3 Contemporary desalination techniques, of course, are far more reliable and provide a year-round source of freshwater for many areas.

Multistage flash distillation is another technique used to desalinate water. This method is more sophisticated than basic distillation, but uses a similar process. First, heat energy is induced into saltwater. Then, the hot seawater is initially exposed to low pressure, causing some of the saline water to quickly vaporize, or “flash.” The vapor then rises and condenses against the cold source. This process continues with the remaining saline water being evaporated in stages. At each stage, the saline water, now called brine, increases in salinity and thus requires increasingly lower pressures to flash. The brine becomes more concentrated as more freshwater is removed.5 However, the process only removes about 15 to 20% of the total water that enters, leaving over 80% of the initial volume of water with an unchanged concentration of salt.6 The innovative components of this process are the means by which energy is conserved or recycled. First, the seawater is pumped into the system and acts as the cold water source that condenses the freshwater. The incoming seawater absorbs heat from condensing the freshwater, thus reducing the amount of energy required before it enters the first step in the process. It takes 80% less energy to convert freezing water to boiling water than it does to convert boiling water to water vapor. Also, the vacuum placed on the system significantly reduces the boiling point, which in turn reduces energy expenditure. However, vaporization itself is a highly energyintensive process requiring 40.8 kilojoules per mole of water.7 For this reason alone, multistage flash distillation shares many problems with basic distillation. Despite being more efficient than basic distillation, multistage flash distillation still requires a large amount of energy to execute. As energy costs rise, distillation of any form is likely to be phased out. Though multistage flash distillation has just about realized its full energy efficiency potential, it still requires significantly more energy than traditional water sources (such as interbasin water transport, which costs much less than the 17 kilowatt-hours needed to desalinate a cubic meter of water produced in a multistage flash distillation plant.

Water covers two-thirds of the Earth, yet only 3% is freshwater, and an even smaller percentage is readily available for human consumption.

Thermal Desalination The first desalination method developed by humans was distillation of water using thermal energy. Distillation using thermal energy was essential aboard ships, since ships could not carry the necessary supply of freshwater and the only water available at sea was saltwater.4 Thermal distillation is a basic process in which saltwater is vaporized by fossil fuels. The evaporated water rises to the top of a container where it encounters a cold source and condenses back into water. The water is then funneled out to a freshwater storage container. Distillation requires a tremendous amount of energy and is therefore very inefficient. The container must continually be replenished with cold water to condense the water vapor, and the container itself must be cleaned constantly to prevent a buildup of salt.

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Furthermore, the cleaning process required by multistage flash distillation is more extensive than basic distillation because of the large amount of surface area in the desalination chambers that are exposed to saltwater. The entire system frequently needs to be shut down in order to clean each individual chamber, and some of the resultant freshwater must be diverted to clean out the system. Reverse Osmosis An alternative to the thermal desalination techniques mentioned above is reverse osmosis, which works by forcing saltwater through a membrane with microscopic holes that only allows pure water through. The membrane currently used is made of a thin-film composite polyamide material with small pores.8 This method requires a great deal of energy, as the water must be pumped into the system at extremely high flow rates in order to generate the required amount of pressure. In order for reverse osmosis to work, the pressure of the incoming water must be greater than the osmotic pressure of saltwater. The osmotic pressure of saltwater is approximately 350 pound per square inch (psi), or 24 atmospheres, which means the incoming water must reach 1000 psi to produce a significant amount of freshwater.9 A tremendous amount of energy is required to achieve this pressure, thus hindering the practical applicability of reverse osmosis technology. In addition to high energy costs, there are other obstacles to implementing reverse osmosis technology. One major obstacle is membrane fouling, which occurs when the membrane becomes damaged or clogged as a result of forcing water through the membrane.10 A reverse osmosis system is thus highly susceptible to damage due to the immense amount of pressure constantly applied to the membrane. This pressure can bend, break, or even blast holes in the membrane, contaminating any freshwater that has already been captured. To reduce stress, reverse osmosis systems are typically designed to prevent water pressure from being applied directly against the membrane by placing the membranes at a slant. However, this comes at the

cost of decreased efficiency, since the water pressure does not directly force the saline water through the membrane. The membrane can also clog with salt buildup. As a result, the saltwater must be pretreated prior to being forced through the membrane to remove any heavy debris, including small pieces of plants or animals that may have passed through the filter on the end the pump. The potential of membrane failure necessitates a final post-treatment area where the water’s salinity is checked to ensure that the water will be safe. During post-treatment, the water undergoes quality assurance to guarantee that any larger molecules or contaminants did not pass through the membrane. Methods to increase the efficiency of reverse osmosis include: (1) the modification of the membrane surface, (2) the increased use of saltwater pre-treatment to reduce contaminants, and (3) the improvement of system maintenance techniques. The most promised method being considered will modify the surface of the reverse osmosis membrane to prevent larger molecules from obstructing the pores and hindering efficiency.11 The surface of the membrane can be altered physically and chemically. Physically, larger contaminants can be impeded by placing physical blocks on the membrane; however, these physical blocks could actually catch contaminants in the surface of the membrane and deteriorate the membrane over time. Chemically, sulfuric acid can be used to remove any larger molecules; however, this has been shown to increase the ability of salt to pass through the membrane.12 The membrane in Figure 1 is a surface nanostructured polyamide thin-film composite.13, 14 The small polymer brush layer, which is chemically attached to the membrane surface, helps prevent larger molecules from fouling the membrane.15 The polymer brush layer’s charge can be switched to minimize the amount of fouling that will occur according to the area the membrane is located in. Therefore, cations or anions can be kept from interfering with the membrane depending on the charge induced on the brushes. The brush layer is also constantly in motion, pushing larger molecules away from the membrane. Another option being researched is the cou-

Pairing energy-generating systems with desalination plants is a promising way to reduce energy waste.


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pling of desalination ing because the cost and plants with energy genscarcity of freshwater, eration plants in order even in areas that are to recover energy that not water-scarce, has inwould otherwise have creased. Unfortunately, been wasted. desalination has several An example is negative environmental pairing a nuclear power consequences that must plant with a desalination be considered before plant. Nuclear fission as it is widely adopted as an energy source is quite a standard freshwater cost-efficient compared source. Desalination afto natural gas, coal, and Figure 1. A desalination membrane developed by researchers fects the environment in other fossil fuels.16 Nucle- at the University of California, Los Angeles. The polymer brush five respects: (1) the land ar plants could provide layer repels differently charged molecules, preventing molecules near the site of the defrom obstructing the path of the water. the energy for desalinasalination plant, (2) the tion by helping to preheat the saline water for mul- groundwater around the site of the plant, (3) the matistage flash distillation while the reactor is cooling. rine ecology at the site of discharge, (4) the noise polSince nuclear power plants cannot be turned off and lution in the site’s vicinity, and (5) the energy requiremust produce energy constantly, the power plant ments of producing desalinated water.21 could divert some of its energy to the desalination Location is the primary concern in evaluatplant during non-peak hours, when the city’s energy ing the environmental impact of desalination. Desalidemands are relatively low.17 Because nuclear plants nation plants must be located near saltwater, which give off a great deal of energy in the form of heat, means that the plants consume large plots of coastal they are ideal for generating the heat energy needed land—land that is rarely an industrial zone, given the to vaporize saltwater. A nuclear desalination plant in recreational and aesthetic appeal of coastal property Aktau, Kazakhstan, for example, has generated up to and the potential for tourism.22 Desalination technol135 megawatts of energy per day, while simulatenous- ogy has a particularly strong appeal for islands that ly producing over 80,000 cubic meters of water per have minimal freshwater reserves: the Caribbean and day over the past 20 years.18 Israel are currently among the leading users of desaliOf course, pairing nuclear power plants with nation technology.23 At the same time, tourism is an desalination plants is not feasible everywhere in the integral component of these countries’ national econworld. However, other options for improving the en- omies, and desalination plants could harm the tourism ergy efficiency of desalination plants include coupling industry and consequently affect the local economy. desalination with wind power stations in highly windy Beyond economic implications, the environareas, such as the island of Aruba. Another technique mental harm to the site must also be considered, is installing turbines on the back ends of desalination since desalination plants pave over several thousand systems, which could recover up to 50% of the energy square meters of delicate dune ecology. The dunes generated to power reverse osmosis pumps.19 Thus, prevent the coastal area from washing into the sea pairing energy-generating systems with desalination during incidents of flooding. Altering that landscape plants is a promising way to reduce energy waste. could spell disaster not only for the immediate dune ecology, but also for the health of the general ecosystem due to altered erosion patterns during thunEnvironmental Impact derstorms. For example, the Ashkelon Desalination As desalination technology becomes cheaper Plant in Israel occupies 75,000 square meters, or apand more efficient, the appeal of desalination contin- proximately 18 acres, on the dunes of the Mediterraues to grow. Given that “about 97% of the water in nean Sea, and thus has a sizable impact on the area’s the world is seawater . . . it just makes sense to de- watershed and ecosystem, as well as the defensive velop a technology that allows us to use that water abilities of the dunes.24 The physical and geographias water source.”20 Desalination is especially appeal- cal footprint of a desalination plant must therefore be THE RO OSEVE LT R EVIEW • Roosevelt In st it ute Campu s Network • Vo lume 4 • I ssue 1 • 20 1 0


carefully assessed before the plant is constructed. Furthermore, at desalination sites, huge pipes are constructed to pump millions of gallons of seawater into the plant each day and transport hundreds of thousands of gallons back into the sea. As with any pipeline, these pipes are subject to leaks. If and when they do leak, the result could be catastrophic to the water table.25 The carbon steel pipes erode rapidly due to the minerals in the water and the velocity of the saltwater, increasing the risk that water will leave the pipe. This is especially problematic when the leaking pipes are carrying highly concentrated brine back to the ocean after desalination, because the saltwater can seep into the ground and contaminate the aquifer below the site of the leakage, making the water there unusable. Current pipes at desalination plants have a service life of around five years, but many sites find themselves in need of pipe repairs within only a year after the pipes are laid.26 The Monterey Bay Desalination Plant plans to spend $46 million on pipe repairs in the next five years alone, suggesting that pipe leakage is a serious issue.27 Considering the limited availability of water in aquifers, countries cannot afford to have any saltwater encroachment occur because of pipe leaks. This problem could be remedied, however, by developing pipes that are less vulnerable to corrosion or by constructing the pipes away from aquifers. In addition to the land on which a desalination plant sits and the water table underneath the plant site, negative impacts on the environment also occur near the site of concentrate discharge. Impingement, or the pinning of sea life against the grating over the pumps used to suck up seawater, and entrainment, the actual uptake of small forms of sea life into the pumps, are major concerns.28 The millions of gallons of saltwater sucked into the pipes each day contain an assortment of sea life, including fish, seaweeds, crustaceans, and aquatic mammals, which either get caught in the screens across the pipes or sucked into the pipes.29 Proponents of desalination say that more efficient protective screens and lower velocity intake could mitigate this issue—indeed, reducing intake velocity to 0.1 meter per second, the approximate veloc-

ity of ocean currents near the shore, could eliminate most of the risk.30, 31 Likewise, the release of chemicals and brine into the ocean is an issue when they are discharged from the plants back into the sea. Both chemicals and brine can prove lethal to the seafloor and surf zone environments if they offset the chemical ecological balance of seawater. Due to its greater mass, the highly concentrated brine that is returned to the ocean sinks before mixing into the ocean water. This hyper-saline solution, which can be between two to three times as salty as normal ocean water, can impact sensitive aquatic life near the site of discharge.32 Marine life is often unable to adapt to long-term levels of increased salinity, so the biodiversity around the outfall site may be significantly reduced.33 The hyper-saline water is also warmer than ocean water, but more research needs to be done to determine in what ways this impacts biodiversity.34, 35 The effects of the concentrated solution are larger in areas with rocky substrate than sandy ocean bottoms, but the turbidity from the discharge which causes alterations in oxygen levels can be detrimental in both environments.36, 37 Proposed solutions to these issues include diffusers to mix the hyper-saline water and ocean water before the former can sink, as well as devices such as injection wells and percolation galleries, which discharge the hyper saline water underground, allowing the excess salt to naturally filter out through percolation. All of these options have the potential to considerably mitigate the environmental impacts of desalination plant discharge. Plants such as those in California, Florida, and Israel are co-located with an energy production facility or integrated into eco-industrial parks.38, 39 By building a desalination plant next to an existing power plant, the desalination plant can use the existing intake and outfall structures to reduce the environmental impact of the plant.40 Eco-industrial parks couple different industries together to recycle byproducts and reuse waste, thereby reducing the overall footprint of the industries.41 According to Desalination, With a Grain of Salt: A California Perspective: “Integrating desalination systems with existing power plants . . . offers a num-

The most significant impact of desalination on the environment is arguably the sheer amount of energy that desalination techniques require.


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ber of possible advantages, including making use of discarded thermal energy from the power plant (cogeneration) and lower-cost electricity due to off-peak use and avoided power grid transmission costs.”42 The issue of noise pollution is far less complex than the effects of desalination on the marine ecology. Simply stated, desalination plants generate noise, which is disruptive to the local communities as well as to animals in the local habitat.43 The loud noise can overpower bird calls and other animal communication, potentially disrupting mating cycles. The noise can also be enough to frighten natural life away from the area surrounding the plant. As with airports, sound barriers can be constructed around desalination sites to allay the noise, but finding neighbors—whether human or animal—for the plant would still be a challenge. Additionally, because desalination plants are often situated in lower-income neighborhoods, the consequences of noise and waste pollution tend to disproportionately impact minorities and the poor.44 The most significant impact of desalination on the environment is arguably the sheer amount of energy that desalination techniques require. Desalination typically requires between 3 and 7 kilowatt-hours of energy to produce one cubic meter of freshwater.45 Regardless of the method of desalination used, the energy use is exorbitantly high. For example, in Israel, the largest desalination plant in the world “takes 7,500 kilowatt-hours to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool—the same amount of energy the average person in Israel uses over the course of two months, for everything from cooking to driving.”46 Water desalination in the US requires approximately 4200 kilowatt-hours per acre-foot (kWh/AF).47 In comparison, removing water through the Colorado River Aqueduct requires 2,000 kWh/AF and groundwater removal uses roughly 600 kWh/AF.48 As these sources become increasingly scarce and exponentially more expensive financially, the asymmetry in monetary cost of the various methods will even out. However, the environmental impact of the fossil fuels used to power the plants will remain worrisome. While several desalination sites around the world have partially-substituted alternative ener-

gy, namely wind and solar, for fossil fuels, the largest of these sites, located in Cape Verde, produces 0.08 million gallons per day (MGD)—a far cry from the approximately 422 MGD produced at the largest Israeli plant.49 While the increase in carbon emissions and uncertainty of the future of fossil fuels are drawbacks of the desalination process, desalination’s potential as a global warming buffer is touted by some, who claim that the ability to provide a reliable supply of clean water from rising sea levels at a time when global climate changing is altering hydrology and available freshwater supplies will be a boon for society.50 While these numerous implications of environmental degradation weigh heavily against desalination, several other environmental impacts should be considered when countries or organizations such as the World Bank decided to fund or build a desalination plant. These impacts are closely entwined with the social benefits of desalination. The first such effect is that by substituting harvested water with water from an effectively implemented desalination plant, the need to drill wells, build aqueducts, construct dams, and transport water exports via boats will be greatly reduced.51 All of these current methods of water harvesting have negative environmental impacts— depleting natural aquifers, interrupting local ecology with long stretches of pavement, changing river flow and displacing flora and fauna, and burning fossil fuels, respectively—and so building a strategic desalination plant could, in some instances, have a smaller environmental footprint than alternative options. Hypothetically, desalination could mitigate the withdrawal of water from the Colorado, meaning people and ecosystems downstream in Mexico could receive water again. It could also reduce the need for dams such as the Three Gorges Dam, allowing hundreds of miles of riverside ecosystems to stay intact. Similarly, in areas where the dearth of freshwater is a source of international tension, constructing desalination plants could have a smaller environmental impact than a war, which broke out, between the disputing nations. For instance, instead of fighting over the Indus River, Pakistan and India could construct desalination plants so that both

The millions of gallons of saltwater sucked into the pipes each day contain an assortment of sea life, including fish, seaweed, crustaceans, and aquatic mammals.

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countries could have a freshwater supply. A handful of desalination plants along the coastlines of India and Pakistan, could have a smaller environmental impact than the physical devastation that war between these two countries could wreck upon the natural ecosystems along their borders. While little data is available to confirm this hypothesis developers should consider the environmental effects of not constructing a desalination plant as well the immediate effects that would result from operating a new plant. Desalination poses several environmental concerns, namely impact on marine life and ecosystems and energy intensity. It also raises concern because desalination has the potential to allow our global population to continue growing unchecked. The gravity of these drawbacks must be weighed with the abundant advantages of desalination and, when building desalination facilities, every effort must be made to adequately mitigate these environmental concerns.  

Economic Implications

The viability of desalination hinges on an issue of scarcity. Faced with finite sources of water, decisions must be made to best and most efficiently use and allocate  those resources. Water has no substitutes. Therefore, the degradation and disappearance of traditional water sources takes on great ramifications. The problem of supply has traditionally been addressed through the transportation of water from water rich areas. However, as this and other conventional water resources become more expensive, desalination is increasingly considered as an alternative or supplementary source. Desalination is often looked to as “make-up water,” bridging “the gap between the amount of water that can be produced and actual demand” using a resource that is seemingly limitless—the world’s oceans.52 At present, desalination has only found use in energyrich, well-developed, but water-scarce regions of the world. The costs of desalinated water are prohibitively high. The price at which desalinated water can be produced varies because of the technology used and site specific conditions, namely salinity and water temperature.53 Because of this variability, assessing the price of de-

salinated water can be a complicated task. In most areas of the world current, desalination processes simply cannot deliver water at a competitive price, even though the price of desalinated water has decreased tenfold since its commercial inception, as technological advancements have enabled declines in equipment costs and increases in energy efficiency.54 Urban consumers in the United States rarely pay more than $0.26 to 0.79 per cubic meter of water,55 much lower than $0.64 per cubic meter, the lowest estimated cost of desalinated water.56 While lower prices have been reported in Ashkelon, Israel, Singapore, and Tampa Bay, Florida, these prices were attained only through heavy subsidies and other economic distortions (such as price scalars, which force prices below market value in the first years of operation). The difference is even more pronounced in comparison to water purposed for agriculture, which can usually be purchased for $0.05 to $0.10 per cubic meter.57 Because of its high costs, desalination is still only cost-efficient for municipal and industrial uses. Energy is the single largest variable cost and represents one-third to one-half of the production cost of treated water.58  Early desalination was relegated to the energy-rich Persian Gulf, but as technological advancements made desalination more energy efficient, the process has become more affordable.59 Yet the great dependence on energy and consequent vulnerability to changes in energy price has been a source of concern over the past decade as energy prices increased. If energy prices continue to rise, as they are projected to by the U.S. Department of Energy, desalination costs will rise as well. Because energy represents about 44% of the cost of desalinated water produced by reverse osmosis and nearly 60% of the cost for thermal desalination, a 25% increase in energy prices would translate to 11% and 15% increases in the costs of produced water.60 Already, the industry has seen increased costs of energy outpacing the decreases in cost brought through technological advancement, compromising the future viability of desalination.61 Increases in the cost of oil and petroleum mean not only increased maintenance costs, but increased construction costs as well. In an address to

The ability of renewable energy to stem rising energy costs is integral to the ultimate viability of desalination.


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the House Committee on Resources on May 24, 2005, Michael Max, the CEO of Marine Distillation Systems explains: “Energy hits everything. It hits transport, it hits the cost of materials [membranes are made of petroleum], and it hits the actual cost of the process.”62 The use of renewable energy is an appealing strategy to mitigate increasing energy costs. At its core, energy efficiency is cost efficiency: the ability of renewable energy to stem rising energy costs is integral to the ultimate viability of desalination.63 Renewable energy options which are applicable specifically to desalination include solar and wind power. Since most desalination plants are found along the coastline, wind turbines are an especially promising source of energy, as demonstrated in Aruba.64 Currently, renewable energy systems are very expensive to construct and maintain, and only in small-scale systems do we see photovoltaic technology adopted.65 Orlando Coronell of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests that such technology may be more viable for areas in the desert or next to the sea, and can be implemented in lieu of connecting desalination plants to a power grid. While technological advancement may offer some hope for the prospect of adopting renewable energy at desalination sites, until these technologies become cost-efficient on a grander scale, the feasibility of desalination will still be married to the cost of oil.  As previously mentioned, the two main desalination methods used today are reverse osmosis and thermal desalination. Both have their advantages and disadvantages: thermal plants produce desalinated water at a cost of approximately $0.72 per cubic meter, while reverse osmosis produces desalinated water at a cost of approximately $0.61 per cubic meter.66 The cost differences can largely be explained by the difference in energy demands. Reverse osmosis tends to have higher operating costs associated with maintenance.67 However, reverse osmosis is currently more widely accepted than thermal desalination since it uses less energy and has the lowest per unit cost of any desalination process.68 Thermal desalination is the oldest commercial desalination technology, and while it has experienced tremendous declines in the cost of produced water

since it was first adopted, it has less room for technological advancement than reverse osmosis. For large facilities dealing with high-salinity seawater, thermal desalination has traditionally been cheaper, because reverse osmosis membranes are not as effective for high salinity sources, but reverse osmosis is reported to be closing that gap and has been the choice for the most recent desalination plants, such as Ashkelon in Israel.69 The added value of reliability in water in some regions justifies the higher cost of desalination. These regions desperately need water and, in acquiring it through traditional methods, they end up exhausting existing their freshwater supplies. For example, extracting large amounts of water from aquifers diminishes the supply, and any rate of extraction that outpaces the rate of replenishment results in an increasingly unreliable source of freshwater.70 Saline water is, by comparison, virtually limitless in its supply. As water scarcity becomes a more pressing issue, higher costs may be accepted as a necessary means to attain water security.71 For example, during the extended droughts of the 1980s in California, many desalination plants were constructed along the coast, only to be abandoned when the drought ended. Clearly, people are more willing to accept the higher prices when traditional resources are compromised. The question therefore becomes: how much money is too much if there is no water to be had?”2 Importing water is currently the primary method of addressing the issue of reliability. The importation of water, though a quick fix, is very expensive. Currently, the cost of constructing and maintaing a water transport system is on par with the costs of desalination.73 The cost of inter-basin water transfers depends on the topography over which the water is transferred. Transfers over flat areas are relatively inexpensive; however, if it is necessary to lift the water vertically, the costs increase rapidly.  Given the high costs of alternative technologies, desalination has been implemented in Israel, Aruba, and El Paso, Texas. These three places each have very different environments, cultures, and water supply issues, but each has found a feasible solution in desalination technology.

Until renewable energy partnerships becomes cost-efficient on a grander scale, the feasibility of desalination will still be married to the cost of oil.

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Israel Israel has long faced the realities of water scarcity. Population growth has surpassed water supply, decreasing the amount of water available per capita, while per capita usage has remained constant. With the local supply covering less than 50% of the countries demands, there is a clear need for supplementary sources of water.74 In Israel, water resources are publicly owned and water policy is implemented through Mekorot, a governmental utilities monopoly. Since its inception, the cost of water has risen as the availability of low cost natural systems has diminished.75 The use of desalination in Israel has been made possible through subsidies that make up a large portion of the government’s expenditures on water.76 It is thanks to the Israeli government’s heavy subsidization of desalination technology that the cost of water from Israel’s Ashkelon plant is affordable, but these subsidies mask the true cost of water in the region. Thus, it has been argued that there is little incentive for consumers to avoid overtaxing the area’s extremely limited supply of freshwater. The use of subsidies to suppress the price further distort desalination’s competitiveness by obscuring negative externalities not associated with traditional water resources.77 Already a relatively arid area where demand consistently exceeds natural production capacities, historically-suppressed prices have led to the over-exploitation of natural aquifers; the agriculture sector, in particular, has been draining the supply of water in Israel, contributing to water scarcity in the region.78

$0.13 per cubic meter and treat water from the heavily polluted Rio Grande at a cost of about $0.24.79 However, desalination is nevertheless the most affordable alternative water source to “bridge” supply and demand. According to Ed Archuleta, the general manager for the El Paso Water Utilities Public Service Board, desalination costs a reported $0.41 per cubic meter and treating reclaimed water $0.68 per cubic meter. Plans for another alternative, importing water from West Texas, were recently rejected because Archuleta estimated that it would cost $1.13 per cubic meter.80 In the future, the decline of traditional water resources because of brackish water intrusion will make it more necessary to use these more expensive alternatives, and as it stands, desalination is the cheapest method available. As an inland desalination center, El Paso faces distinctly different challenges than elsewhere. At inland desalination plants, brine removal costs can constitute a sizable portion of total costs, so El Paso faces greater costs associated with concentrate management and environmental issues.81

As 97% of Earth’s water is saltwater, desalination taps into a resource that is virtually limitless— the world’s oceans.


Aruba has been using desalination as their water source for over seventy-five years because there are no natural freshwater sources on the island. Because of the lack of natural freshwater resources, Aruba is limited to desalination or import as sources of water. Originally, thermal desalination was used in Aruba, however, unlike the Persian Gulf, it did not have ready access to cheap energy. Thermal desalination using fossil fuels was used until 2006 when W.E.B El Paso, Texas Aruba N.V., the local water company, implemented a plan for new energy options as a means to decrease Situated in the Chihuahuan Desert, El Paso, dependence on the increasing costs of oil imports Texas also relies on desalination technology to supple- Aruba has been successful in making the transition to ment traditional water supplies. The city uses brack- use reverse osmosis as a means of desalination. ish groundwater which is desalinated at Fort Bliss, the Compared to thermal desalination, reverse adjacent army base. Desalination is not the cheapest osmosis has greater potential for improvements in source of water for El Paso, and it represents a small technology, so while the initial construction and mainpercentage of the city’s water sources. The city con- tenance costs are higher, it proves to be the more tinues to pump and treat groundwater at a cost of economically secure option. Furthermore, a wind38

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mill park has been built that will provide power for the desalination plant making desalination less costly in the long run. The Aruba facility also uses the cogeneration of water and power demonstrating the application of such cost saving techniques.82 The other possible option of oversea transportation is tremendously expensive and not as reliable.83 Aruba, at its closest point, is only 27 km from Venezuela, but the closest port is considerably farther. Desalination is much cheaper alternative than importing water and has proven to be successful in this instance. For Aruba, and other island nations with little or no natural freshwater, desalination is clearly a feasible method to ensure water security. Desalination does not make sense economically in most areas of the world. However, as Israel, Aruba, and El Paso demonstrate, it can be part of the solution to water scarcity in some instances. Technological progress will make desalination more efficient and affordable for areas facing escalating costs and diminishing water resources.

Current Policy The 1960s saw the adoption of strong desalination policies with support from Stewart Udall, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, in 1968 and Phillipe Desaynes, the United Nations Under-Secretary for Economic and Social Affairs in 1964.84 Both viewed desalination as a crucial solution for arid countries’ water problems. The UN Under-Secretary concluded that desalination is desirable because of its ability to expand gradually, its responsiveness to water demands, its ability to maintain excess capacity with minimal operating costs, and its potential to decrease conflicts over water sources.85 Specifically noted in the report is desalination’s quick economic return on investment. Short start up times allow revenues to recoup the start-up costs before the loans have accrued significant interest.86 This initial popularity of desalination resulted in the development of over 15,000 desalination plants with a total capacity of 32 million cubic meters, enough to provide water to 7% of the world’s coastal population.87 Although in the past several years desalination has increasingly been viewed as a measure of last resort, the growth of the industry has not subsided; indeed, since 2000, the cumulative installed desalination capacity has grown at an average of 7%

per year.88 Researchers voice concerns about the environmental impacts of desalination, and they also call for the development of an international environmental assessment methodology for desalination plants to ensure the sustainability of this profound growth in the industry.89 An international policy mediating desalination’s potential for equitable water access and its cost and environmental impacts can help to facilitate the decision process and feasibility determination of installing a desalination plant. Among the issues considered should be human rights as related to the equitable distribution of water, environmental concerns, replenishment rates of alternate water sources, productivity of research on desalination technology,90 and benefits to national security.91 Such a policy would ensure continual access to freshwater. Current international laws addressing desalination are weak. The United States has some of the strongest water quality laws in the world, which included policies regarding desalination. Under the Clean Water Act, desalination is considered a pointsource polluter and is thus subject to regulation. But even the comparatively-robust U.S. laws do little to protect non-freshwater sources. Most other countries’ water laws are not as stringent as U.S. laws, and even those which do have strict effluent-discharge laws often exercise limited regulatory authority. Essentially, this means there is an overarching lack of regulation of non-freshwater sources—and of the process of desalination—worldwide. Although international laws concerning ocean polluting do exist, these are of limited applicability to desalination’s hot brine discharge. Thus, the strongest and most effective policies will come from regional agreements and incentive structures from funding organizations, such as the World Bank,92 so it is critical that such policies include stringent regulations in order to minimize the effects of desalination on marine environments and groundwater sources. Because employing desalination in different locations naturally encompasses different concerns and asymmetrical levels of regulation, the emphasis on and contents of regional arrangements and funding stipulations will differ. For example, regional agreements concerning desalination in the areas surrounding the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the Caribbean are weak, even though these areas are among the most severely endangered by the consequences of current and future desalination.93 Thus, addressing

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environmental concerns of desalination in these areas will require intervention in terms of project funding. While every desalination prospect is influenced by environmental concerns and research productivity, the three case studies considered in this paper have unique concerns. Each location has a separate set of policy considerations stemming from different levels of government or international cooperation. El Paso, Texas has a desalination plant that draws brackish water from the ground and injects the waste into deep wells. Despite El Paso’s close proximity to Mexico, international conflict is of limited concern for this project;94 the US’s strong environmental laws can take precedence and be exercised in both regulatory and funding aspects. The Israel desalination project, on the other hand, is intrinsically connected with international tensions. The project, which seeks to connect the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, is intended in part to remedy trans-boundary water issues since it is a joint project between Israel, Palestine, and Jordan.95 The greatest concern for this proposal is the weak regional regulations currently in existence surrounding the Red Sea. This means that strong international involvement from the World Bank and the United Nations is necessary to prevent environmental degradation, and to ensure that the arrangement continues to increase security in the region.  Australia’s desalination situation is a hybrid between the Israeli and the American project. The area has weak regulatory controls, weak regional agreements,96 and Australia is in a strong enough economic situation to circumvent the need for international funding from organizations such as the World Bank. Thus, the environmental protection via desalination regulation falls directly to Australia. The implementation of desalination will require a bilateral agreement between the commonwealth and the individual states,97 which may prove to be more effective than the regional agreements due to the increased local concern on the environmental effects of desalination in state-commonwealth negotiations. With less than ten of the small desalination plants in Australia providing water for human con-

sumption, a significant amount of desalinated water is being used for industrial or agricultural uses.98 However, a desalination plant in Kurnell, Australia will provide 15% of Sydney’s water supply or water for 1.5 million people. A product of the bilateral agreement between the state and the commonwealth is a 67-turbine wind farm, which has sufficient energy capacity to reliably provide full power to the desalination plant, even on days with little wind. Additionally, the site has extensive environmental monitoring.99 Worldwide action is necessary when local, national, and regional agreements are insufficient to ensuring that desalination projects will be environmentally sound. One global incentive program for limiting the negative externalities associated with non-essential desalination would be to place an international tariff on products produced with desalinated water. Incremental taxes could be placed on desalination plants that used non-renewable energy, or they could be based on more complicated measures such as poor concentrate management. Additionally, the tariff could be reduced or eliminated for recycled desalinated water used for agriculture that was initially used in households, which would reduce the cost and environmental impact of the process.100 Applying this tariff at only the international level, rather than at the water production level, would serve to maintain and perhaps even increase human rights and equitable access to water while decreasing the amount of water that is used for production in excess of domestic requirements. The tariff would uniquely impact desalination from the demand side, thus lowering the price for desalinated water. This would make desalinated water more accessible for domestic household and domestic industrial uses, thereby circumventing developing countries’ perception that environmental controls imposed by developed countries are intended to constrain their economies.101 The money collected from the tariff by an international organization, such as the World Bank, would be used to further research on desalination and concentrate management practices, and to provide grants to fund the implementation of appropriate desalination tech-

Since plants are often situated in lower-income neighborhoods, the consequences of noise and waste pollution tend to disproportionately impact minorities and the poor.


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nologies in developing, arid countries. The Israeli Red-Dead Sea desalination project is still developing, and it serves as a pertinent case study of the suggested policies. As mentioned earlier in this report, the project, jointly proposed by Israel, Jordan and Palestine, aims to join the Red and Dead Seas and has received initial support from the World Bank,102 despite significant environmental concerns.103,104 The three countries contend that the project, which could produce as much as 850 million cubic meters of freshwater annually, or about half of Israel’s current water consumption, will use hydroelectric power created from the downhill flow of water from the Red sea to the Dead Sea to power the desalination process. While all three countries are heavily vested in the project, it is of particular interest to Jordan, which is poor in both freshwater and fossil fuels, historically limiting its access to freshwater from both traditional and desalinated sources.105 The three governments claim that the project would protect the Dead Sea from further environmental degradation ensuing from declining water levels due to projected reduced inflow from the Jordan River, a result of increased water consumption. Additionally, the hydroelectric power would allow for both affordable energy and desalination. Perhaps most importantly, they recognize the project as “building a symbol of peace and cooperation in the Middle East.”106 The environmental concerns of the project in Israel are complicated, with severe consequences for both action and inaction regarding the joining of the Red and Dead Seas. The World Bank is currently conducting a study to be released in 2011 on the environmental consequences of the project.107 One major concern already raised in an interim report by the World Bank is that the project lies on a seismic fault line, so there is significant risk that the project’s pumping stations and desalination plant could be damaged.108 Because the considerable freshwater output of the proposed desalination plant will be powered by a renewable energy source, the greatest environmental concern becomes the management of the concen-

trate. The location of the seismic fault line increases this risk, which could negatively affect the quality of the surrounding groundwater.109 Finally, the security of the region must be considered in the World Bank’s assessment of the plan. Considering the long history of conflict in the region,110 moving towards a self-designed era of cooperation is desirable. International oversight can help to ensure that the shared activity remains a security enhancement. The international tariff would place pressure to ensure that water-poor Jordan received the desalinated water for human consumption and domestic industry, and it would discourage Israel from using it for high yield agriculture. The tariff would be reduced because of the use of renewable energies in desalination, but, it could be increased based on concentrate management practices. The area has already requested support from the World Bank, allowing for strong international input into the project.111 Ultimately, strengthening the economic situation of the region and rooting the economies in industries that are not fossil-fuel driven would allow for stronger regional environmental protection. Regional and international policies that address desalination are necessary for its responsible, future use. Because desalination is a technology that will be increasingly used in the future, these policies must ensure that desalination is employed in a way that bolsters international cooperation, minimizes environmental impact, and provides for basic human needs.

Water scarcity and its potential consequences—war, famine, illness, and full-scale economic collapse— may surpass even climate change as the greatest challenge society has yet to face.

Conclusion As the world population continues to expand, so will our need for freshwater: more water than ever will be needed for sanitation, personal consumption, and watering crops to feed a growing number of mouths. However, the world’s supply of readily available freshwater will not grow to match society’s demands. Freshwater comprises a mere 1% of the Earth’s water supply, and humans extract excessive quantities

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of this dwindling water supply on a daily basis. While some parts of the world will have enough freshwater to continue watering their lawns for several more decades, other regions are already threatened by a scarcity of accessible freshwater. Unless substantial efforts are made to enforce water conservation worldwide, the threat of water scarcity and its potential consequences—including war, famine, illness, and full-scale economic collapse— will arguably become the largest problem society has ever faced. Despite the negative global water forecast, there are several potential solutions that could help mitigate this impending crisis. One component of a solution is desalination. With over 70% of the Earth’s surface covered in saltwater, desalination literally presents an ocean of opportunity for freshwater extraction. Although desalination currently has several undeniable disadvantages—namely, the environmental and economic implications of the immense energy inputs and the environmental and logistical concerns regarding the highly saline waste product—it also holds enormous potential for technological development which could lead to long-term social, environmental, economical, and political benefits. With realistic technological advancements in membrane technology, reverse osmosis will become increasingly efficient, and the overall cost of desalinated water is expected to decrease.112 Even if the predicted advances in membrane technology stall, Dr. Orlando Coronell argues: “It is not about luxury or having the option of picking this or that water source. It is about the fact that soon there will be no option, and if a certain country or town wants to have enough water to drink, produce energy or irrigate crops, they will have to get water from the sea.”113 Desalination plants have already been successfully implemented in dozens of nations around the globe, and while many areas do not currently have the resources to make desalination a viable option for harvesting freshwater, in the coming decades large expanses of the world may be forced to turn to desalination to meet their water needs.114 As nations and organizations such as the World Bank look for solutions to alleviate the dearth of available freshwater, they should look into desalination and consider not only its negative environmental impacts, but also its potential to be a tool of diplomacy and its potential to diversify a mercurial world water supply with a reliable source of freshwater. Although desalination cannot be the only solution to our water prob42

lems, it is likely to be a piece of our water management puzzle.115 As researchers at the Pacific Institute observe: “In the end, decisions about desalination developments will revolve around complex evaluations of local circumstances and needs, economics, financing, environmental and social impacts, and available alternatives.”116

Notes 1. “Thirsty? How ‘bout a cool, refreshing cup of seawater?” U.S. Department of the Interior, last modified Mar 29, 2010, accessed April 15, 2010, 2. Ibid. 3. Encyclopedia of Desalination and Water Resources, s.v. “Distillation,” accessed April 15, 2010, 4. Michael Schirber, “Why Desalination Doesn’t Work (Yet),” Live Science, June 25, 2007, 5. “MSF - Multi-stage Flash Distillation Process,” Sidem Thermal Desalination EPC Contractor, process/MSF/. 6. John Zactruba, “Water Desalination Using Multi-Stage Flash Distillation (MSF),” Bright Hub, last modified December 23, 2009, accessed April 20, 2010, http://www.brighthub. com/engineering/mechanical/articles/29623. aspx. 7. Encyclopedia of Desalination and Water Resources, “Distillation.” 8. Nancy H. Lin, Myung-man Kim, Gregory Lewis, and Yoram Cohen, “Polymer Surface Nanostructuring of Reverse Osmosis Membranes for Fouling Resistance and Improved Flux Performance,” Journal of Materials Chemistry 20 (2010): 4642-4652. 9. Orlando Coronell, in discussion with the author (Emily Zuehlke), April 15, 2010. 10. Lin, et al., “Polymer Surface Nano-structuring,” 4642-4652. 11. Ibid. 12. Ibid. 13. Ibid. 14. “Engineers Develop New Desalination Membrane,” University of California Newsroom, last modified April 5, 2010, accessed April 15, 2010, http://www. 15. “Nuclear Desalination,” World Nuclear

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Association, last modified February 2010, accessed April 15, 2010, 16. Ibid. 17. Ibid. 18. Coronell, in discussion with Zuehlke, April 15, 2010. 19. Ibid. 20. Rachel Einav, “Minimizing the Impact of the Desalination Processes on the Environment,” IDS Water, accessed April 14, 2010, http://www. process/153/paper_information.html. 21. Mutaz A. Qutob, “Environmental Impacts of Water Desalination Along the Coastal Region of Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information, accessed Apr. 10, 2010, http:// 22. Ibid. 23. “Ashkelon Desalination Plant Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) Plant, Israel,” Water Technology, accessed Apr. 10, 2010, http:// israel9.html. 24. Qutob, “Environmental Impacts of Water Desalination.” 25. Anees U. Malik, “Case Histories on the Failure of Pipe Lines in Desalination Plants,” Saline Water Conversion Corporation, accessed April 14, 2010, http://www.swcc. CTechnical%20Papers%5CCorrosion/ CASE%20HISTORIES%20ON%20THE%20 FAILURE%20OFPIPE%20LINES%20IN%20 DESALINATION%20P.pdf. 26. Sarah Phalen, “A Salt on Monterey Bay,” Metroactive News, last modified June 9, 2004, accessed April 14, 2010, http://www. 27. Giorgio Micale, Lucio Rizzuti, and Andea Cipollina, Seawater Desalination: Conventional and Renewable Energy Processes (Berlin: Springer, 2009), 273-299. 28. Heather Cooley, Peter H. Gleick, and Gary Wolff, Desalination, With a Grain of Salt: A California Perspective (Oakland, CA: Pacific Institute, 2006). 29. Ibid. 30. “Resource Management Issues: Desalination,” Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, accessed April 10, 2010, http://montereybay.

desalination.html. 31. “MSF - Multi-stage Flash Distillation Process.” 32. Cooley, et al., Desalination. 33. Ibid. 34. Ibid. 35. David Salvesen, in discussion with the authors (Emily Zuehlke, Grayson Cooper, and Jason Dunn), April 20, 2010. 36. “MSF - Multi-stage Flash Distillation Process.” 37. Ibid. 38. Cooley, et al., Desalination. 39. Ibid. 40. “MSF - Multi-stage Flash Distillation Process.” 41. Cooley, et al., Desalination. 42. Ibid. 43. Ibid. 44. “MSF - Multi-stage Flash Distillation Process.” 45. Ibid. 46. Cooley, et al., Desalination. 47. Ibid. 48. Ibid. 49. “MSF - Multi-stage Flash Distillation Process.” 50. Cooley, et al., Desalination, With a Grain of Salt. 51. Ibid. 52. Hearings on H.R. 1071, Before the Subcomm. on Water and Power of the Comm. on Resources, 109th Cong. (2005). 53. Kandi Venkat Reddy and Norredine Ghaffour, “Overview of the cost of desalinated water and costing methodologies,” Desalination 205 (2007): 340-353, DOI:10.1016/j. desal.2006.03.558. 54. Ibid. 55. Cooley, et al., Desalination. 56. National Research Council, Desalination: A National Perspective (Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2008). 57. Cooley, et al., Desalination. 58. Ibid. 59. Ibid. 60. Ibid. 61. Reddy and Ghaffour, “Overview.” 62. Ibid. 63. Ibid. 64. “New Technology,” W.E.B. Aruba N.V., accessed April 25, 2010, http://www.webaruba. com/index.php?option=com_content&task=blo gcategory&id=61&Itemid=252. 65. Ali Al-Karaghouli, David Renne, Lawrence L. Kazmerski, “Technical and economic assessment of photovoltaic-driven desalination systems,” Renewable Energy 35 (2010): 323328, DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2009.05.018.

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66. Reddy and Ghaffour, “Overview.” 67. Yuan Zhou and Richard S. J. Tol, “Evaluating the costs of desalination and water transport,” Water Resources Research 41 (2005), doi:10.1029/2004WR003749. 68. Reddy and Ghaffour, “Overview.” 69. Ibid. 70. Ibid. 71. Ibid. 72. Tom Pankratz, “Water Desalination Report: The International Weekly for Desalination and Advanced Water Treatment Since 1965,” 73. Reddy and Ghaffour, “Overview.” 74. Yoav Kislev, “The Water Economy of Israel” (discussion paper, Department of Agricultural Economics and Management, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2001). 75. Ibid. 76. Stevan Plaut, “Water Policy in Israel,” Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, accessed April 23, 2010, http://http://www. 77. Ibid. 78. Ibid. 79. David Burge, “PSB projects longer wait if plan to import water is implemented,” El Paso Times, March 27, 2010, http://www.elpasotimes. com/ci_14767274. 80. Ibid. 81. Reddy and Ghaffour, “Overview.” 82. Al-Karaghouli, et al., “Technical and economic assessment.” 83. Hasan Ali Biçak and Glenn P. Jenkins, “Costs and Pricing Policies Related to Transporting Water by Tanker from Turkey to North Cyprus” (discussion paper, Harvard Institute for International Development, Harvard University, 1999). 84. Roy Popkin, Desalination: Water for the World’s Future (New York: Praeger, 1968). 85. Ibid. 86. Ibid. 87. Manuel Schiffler, “Perspectives and Challenges for Desalination in the 21st Century,” Desalination 165 (2004): 1-9. 88. Cooley, et al., Desalination. 89. Ibid. 90. Yacov Tsur and Amos Zemel, “R&D policies for desalination technologies,” Agricultural Economics 24, (2000): 73-85. 91. Popkin, Desalination. 92. Aaron Schwabach, “Using International Law to Prevent Environmental Harm from Increased 44

Use of Desalination,” Texas International Law Journal 34 (1999): 245-262. 93. Ibid. 94. Edmund Archuleta, “Desalination of Brackish Groundwater in El Paso, Texas,” Texas Water Development Board, http://www. The_Future_of_Desalination_in_Texas-Volume_2/ documents/D8.pdf. 95. Josie Glausiusz, “New Life for the Dead Sea?” Nature 464, (2010): 1119–1120, doi:10.1038/4641118a. 96. Schwabach, “Using International Law.” 97. Economic and Technical Assessment of Desalination Technologies in Australia: With Particular Reference to National Action Plan Priority Regions. (Turner, ACT: Australia Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, 2002). 98. Ibid. 99. “Desalination,” Sydney Water, accessed April 23, 2010, Water4Life/Desalination/. 100. Eyal Brill, Ujjayant Chakravorty, and Eithan Hochman, “Water Resources Development” in Natural Resource Management and Policy, eds. Richard Just and Sinaia Netanyahu (Norwell, Massachusetts: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998), 381-402. 101. Schwabach, “Using International Law.” 102. Rory Kress, “World Bank Promotes Dead-Red Sea Canal,” Jerusalem Post, July 25, 2007. 103. Schwabach, “Using International Law.” 104. Rory Kress, “Environmentalists Slam World Bank over Red-Dead Canal,” Jerusalem Post, August 12, 2007. 105. Schwabach, “Using International Law.” 106. “Red Sea-Dead Sea: Overview,” World Bank, accessed April 23, 2010, http://go.worldbank. org/MXWJ6T5RS0. 107. Schwabach, “Using International Law.” 108. “Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Program Feasibility Study,” World Bank, INTREDSEADEADSEA/Resources/RDS_ Additional_Studies_TORs_13-March09.pdf. 109. Ibid. 110. “The Six Day War: Causes and Consequences,” Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, http://www.sixdaywar. org/. 111. Schwabach, “Using International Law.” 112. Coronell, in discussion Zuehlke, April 15, 2010. 113. Ibid.

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114. Ibid. 115. Cooley, et al., Desalination. 116. Ibid.

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The Next Attack Will Be Our Last ABOUT THE AUTHOR Isaac Lara graduated cum laude from Columbia University in 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science. Lara served as a Senior Fellow for Equal Justice and Co-Director of Defense and Diplomacy Policy Center for Roosevelt’s Columbia chapter. He is especially interested in exploring issues related to public safety and social responsibility in the postSeptember 11 era. This fall, he will participate in the Coro Fellos Program in Public Affairs, a graduate-level leadership training program in New York City that will prepare him for a career in public service.

America’s Failure to Employ Adequate Security Practices at Chemical Facilities ISAAC LARA Columbia University

On December 3, 1984, a tank at a Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, India discharged a toxic cloud of gas into the atmosphere, immediately killing 8,000 people and sickening 500,000. Another 25,000 people died soon afterwards from long-term exposure to methyl isocyanatae, a highly toxic compound. Some victims were blinded after their eyes burst from their sockets; others endured their lungs disintegrating after prolonged contact with the toxic gas. The Bhopal disaster illustrates the deadly risk an insecure chemical plant poses to the public at large. However, chemical disasters are not a thirdworld phenomenon. In the United States, more than 15,000 chemical plants and other facilities store large amounts of hazardous materials at their sites. In New Jersey—the most densely populated state in the country and home to a large petrochemical industry— one chemical company’s 180,000 pounds of sulfur

dioxide could form a toxic cloud that would threaten 12 million residents and cause them to suffer a fate not unlike the residents of Bhopal. Some experts worry that jihadist extremists might target these facilities and transform them into weapons of mass destruction the same way that the September 11 hijackers used commercial airliners as missiles to attack Americans. Besides inflicting massive casualties and overwhelming our healthcare system, such a catastrophe would cost the country untold millions in cleanup and recovery. The federal government today has failed to enact legislation that would improve national security standards at chemical facilities. Only after the U.S. begins requiring companies to substitute hazardous materials in their chemical manufacturing processes with safer ones, enhancing counterterrorism measures around industrial zones, and exposing security vulnerabilities at chemical facilities can we truly be protected from a chemical disaster.

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Introduction This year marks the 25th anniversary since the worst industrial disaster in history. On December 3, 1984, a tank at a Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, India discharged a toxic cloud of gas into the atmosphere, immediately killing 8,000 people and severely sickening 150,000. Another 12,000 people died soon afterwards from longterm exposure to the toxic methyl isocyanatae.1 Some victims were permanently blinded, their eyes having burst out of their sockets; others’ lungs had melted upon contact with the toxic gas. Autopsies later revealed degeneration of the liver, inflammation of the small intestine, and excess water in the spaces between the brain and the skull.2 The nightmare though never ends for victims and their families. Even today thousands of survivors still suffer from ailments associated with exposure to the gas, such as chaotic menstrual cycles and searing headaches. Worse, they continue to have children and grandchildren born with brain damage and horrible deformities. Although speculation still exists over whether the Bhopal disaster was caused by accident or foul play, the tragedy clearly illustrates the dangerous risk an insecure chemical plant poses to the public. However, this is not an Indian or a third-world problem. In the U.S., more than 15,000 chemical plants and other facilities store large amounts of hazardous materials at their sites.3 In New Jersey, the most densely populated state with a huge petrochemical industry, one chemical company’s 180,000 pounds of chlorine or sulfur dioxide could form a cloud that would threaten 12 million residents and cause them to suffer a fate not unlike Bhopal.4 Some experts worry that jihadist extremists might actually transform these facilities into impromptu weapons of mass destruction (WMD) the same way that September 11 hijackers used commercial airliners as missiles to attack Americans. So what is currently being done to protect chemical sites from terrorist attack? No law today exists to regulate or install permanent national safety standards at chemical facilities.5 For years, chemical companies have actually blocked legislation to increase security at their facilities in order to save costs and preserve profit margins. Their efforts, along with the public perception that America is more vulnerable to hijackings and nuclear weapons attacks than 48

an explosion at an industrial site, ignore the threat terrorists pose to chemical facilities, and places millions of Americans in grave danger. This paper will identify the threat that chemical facilities with security lapses pose to the American public, as well as explore current legislation that seeks to address this urgent problem. It draws on information from an interview I conducted with Dr. Stephen Flynn, the author of America the Vulnerable, and a leading security expert at the Council of Foreign Relations. This paper also includes my personal recommendations for the federal government to establish safety standards at chemical facilities throughout the nation in order to prevent another devastating terrorist attack. Otherwise, if no action is taken to safeguard our nation’s chemical facilities, the next attack might very well be our last.

Emerging Trends As globalization continues to transform world markets and spread ideas, terrorists have responded by developing new tactics to target their victims. Evidence of these changes first emerged in 1995, when members of the cult Aum Shinrikyo unleashed sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system, killing 12 and injuring more than 5,000 people.6 This attack ushered a new era in terrorism dubbed, “catastrophic terrorism,” since it marked the first time extremist groups had acquired and deployed highly toxic materials to attack large numbers of civilians.7 Not only did this incident demonstrate that terrorists were no longer restricted to using conventional methods like hijackings or small explosives, but they could now acquire WMD that broadened their targets and inflicted more casualties than ever before. Most shocking is that America’s greatest contemporary enemy—Al Qaeda—has also recently become part of this growing trend and sought chemical weapons. Immediately following the September 11 attacks, Al Qaeda released a statement that it was attempting to procure chemical weapons in future attacks against the U.S. This threat became substantiated in December 2001 after US officials recovered 64 videos at the group’s abandoned training camp in Afghanistan depicting several men experimenting with lethal chemicals. In one segment, masked men test an unidentified nerve agent on three defenseless dogs, killing all of them before fleeing the scene. Officials at

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the camp also discovered copies of American chemical trade publications as well, as well as formulas to synthesize sarin gas.8 Because of worrisome findings like these, many experts today speculate as to why terrorists seek chemical weapons in the first place. Technological advancements in manufacturing processes partly explain this question since they have helped scientists create deadly chemical agents, which terrorists seek to acquire in order to maximize the damage they inflict to a civilian population. Since the invention of dynamite in the 19th century, terrorists have stayed abreast of new inventions so they can use them in their methods for achieving their political objectives.9 Terrorists specifically desire chemical weapons because of their operational advantages, their ability to garner international media attention, and their psychological impact on victims. Operational advantages to using chemical weapons include its ability to cause a high number of casualties in a single strike, which could exceed modest expectations depending on how weather conditions affect dispersion. Chemical attacks also are more likely to attract publicity and shine light on the attackers because the media tends to report on incidents involving high numbers of American casualties. This may be due to the novelty of the scheme since few cases of chemical terrorism have been recorded.10 Finally, terrorists also want to exploit the psychological effects that a chemical attack would inflict to a civilian population. The possibility of an attack indiscriminately killing thousands, perhaps millions of people at unpredictable times or places conjures fear and suspicion among ordinary citizens, which helps terrorists transmit the message to their target societies that everyone is a possible victim until their objectives are met. However, fortunately for Americans today, several obstacles prevent groups from acquiring these weapons and enjoying their advantages. First, terrorists often lack sufficient knowledge and expertise to synthesize a lethal substance. Few extremist groups are able to attract the support of the educated chemical engineers who enabled Aum Shinrikyo to produce sarin gas in its attacks. Second, the materials required to develop a chemical weapon are expensive. Several organizations are hard-pressed to fund large-scale operations, let alone purchase the necessary ingredients for a chemical bomb from rogue states or arms dealers that charge exorbitant prices.

Third, acquiring a chemical weapon is difficult because terrorists fear mishandling these materials and injuring themselves prior to carrying out their attack. For example, a few members in Aum Shinrikyo fell ill while attempting to create some of the early versions of the sarin gas that they would later release in the Tokyo subway system.11 Because of such challenges, many groups instead might turn to stealing chemical materials from nearby industrial plants in order to create chemical bombs.

The Threat Terrorists pose a significant risk to industrial facilities by either stealing chemical substances from industrial facilities, or worse, exploding a chemical plant that releases toxic materials into the atmosphere. There have already been incidents in which terrorists have infiltrated facilities and stolen chemical materials to attack civilians. For example, one of the chief conspirators behind the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing, Nidal Ayyad, used his job at a chemical facility to steal powerful chemicals. Security was so lax at the plant that other employees failed to realize anything was amiss, and at one point Ayyad was even able to order more dangerous substances using company letterhead.12, 13 He would later use these materials to develop and explode a bomb in the basement at the towers, which killed six and injured 1,042 people. Ayyad also later revealed to investigators that he and his terrorist collaborators had originally planned to steal cyanide and release it in the ventilation system at WTC.14 Such an attack would have wreaked havoc on the office workers in the towers, demonstrating the extent to which terrorists had planned to use chemical weapons against civilians. Chemical companies also store valuable technology like microfilters that if terrorists were to possess would unleash a wave of destruction. Microfilters are miniature hand-held devices that produce small quantities of chemicals on short order. While companies typically use this technology to mass-produce chemical products, if terrorists somehow infiltrate chemical facilities and steal these machines, they could actually produce some of the world’s most dangerous nerve agents, such as VX and sarin.15 Besides stealing, terrorists can also strike in-

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dustrial plants by either launching a projectile at the site or detonating an explosive near a storage tank containing dangerous chemicals. This attack has the potential of releasing toxic gases into the atmosphere or causing a chemical spill that threatens the environment, wildlife, and the lives of countless numbers of residents in the affected area. Nearly 100 chemical facilities store enough material to each kill 1 million people if released by a terrorist operation.16 One plant in New Jersey—the most densely populated state in the country with an enormous petrochemical industry—is located along a stretch of road that FBI experts have dubbed, “most dangerous two miles in America.”17 A gas leak here could endanger the lives of more than 12 million people living in the metropolitan area.18 Such an attack could transform facilities like this one in New Jersey into weapons of mass destruction much like how Jihadist extremists had converted commercial airlines into WMD on September 11. Former White House advisors recently described how a simple attack on a chemical facility could possibly inflict enough casualties to even dwarf the destruction on September 11: “A cleverly designed terrorist attack against a TIH (toxic inhalation hazard) chemical target would be no more difficult to perpetrate than was the simultaneous hijacking of four commercial aircraft by 19 terrorists. The loss of life could easily equal that which occurred on September 11, 2001—and might even exceed it by an order of magnitude or more.”19 To further illustrate the loss of life and damage that could result if terrorists were to compromise a chemical plant, take the worst-case scenario of a chlorine gas leak. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), for example, estimates that an attack on any chlorine storage tank in America could release toxic gas into the atmosphere, and, depending on wind conditions, cause more than 17,500 fatalities.20 Traveling ten miles in two minutes, chlorine gas could potentially kill citizens living within a 20-mile radius.21 Besides loss of life and physical damage, such an attack could also have devastating economic repercussions. A chemical facility meltdown could cripple the national and local business by disrupting

major portions of the country’s rail lines, oil storage tanks and refineries, pipelines, air traffic, communications networks and highway systems. Government authorities would require hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars for cleanup efforts, insurance, and recovery. Emergency patients and trauma victims would flood into health clinics and overwhelm the system. With dire scenarios like these in mind, many experts, especially Dr. Stephen Flynn at the Council of Foreign Relations, have alerted the federal government to security vulnerabilities and have urged Washington to take swift action to protect chemical facilities from terrorism. In January 2001, Flynn, who at the time was a member of the U.S. Commission of National Security, submitted a report warning Congress that America was vulnerable to a terrorist attack on its own turf. Flynns’s advice went ignored, and eight months later, September 11 occurred. Since that day he has continued to write extensively on domestic security, publishing several books and newspaper articles on the subject and identifying security lapses at industrial sites, transportation hubs, and ports. The September 11 Commission was another early whistleblower that has called attention vulnerabilities of chemical facilities. Members have consistently recommended that the U.S. allocate homeland security funds to private and public sector organizations based on risk, vulnerabilities, and potential consequences of a terrorist attack on a chemical facility, which the federal government has neglected to do. For this and other reasons, the Commission established a report card with letter grades A to F to evaluate the progress the federal government has since made on implementing the Commission’s suggestions. President George W. Bush’s administration received an “F” for not distributing homeland security monies according to infrastructure vulnerabilities or risks it may pose if a terrorist attack were to occur; a “C” for developing inadequate preparedness standards for private companies; and a “D” for developing insufficient procedures to determine vulnerabilities at chemical facilities.22 The government is not the only one ignoring the peril into which chemical facilities place communi-

For years, chemical companies have blocked legislation to increase security at their facilities in order to save costs and preserve profit margins.


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ties. Often times, companies are also complacent with of nearly 65 illegal aliens who had worked at seven security at their facilities. According to 2002 survey petrochemical facilities, one pipeline facility, and administered by the Council on Competiveness, 92% other industrial sites.27 Such a security lapse demonof executives did not believe terrorists would attempt strates chemical companies’ failure to conduct even to attack their companies, while only more than half rudimentary background checks on their employees, of these respondents claimed their companies had many of who had access to chemical materials. made increased security spending following the September 11 attacks.23 These statistics underscore the private sector’s oversight of the threat that terrorists pose to chemical plants. Because of government’s disregard to heed So if American chemical plants are so vulnerthe warnings of the September 11 Commission and able to terrorist attack and infiltration, how come no Flynn, along with the complacent nature of Big Busi- incidents have occurred yet? Political scientist John ness, chemical sites remain insecure today. Basic Mueller has argued that the threat of terrorism is measures such as posting warning signs, fencing, inflated, and that the reason America has not been and maintaining access control and twenty-four hour attacked since September 11 is because the nation’s surveillance are only required for 21% of the 15,000 politicians have exaggerated the threat to win elecsites that store large quantities of hazardous materi- tion and, in some cases, to win friends in the defense als.24 More than 90% of the most dangerous chemical industry.28, 29 However, experts who believe the threat facilities in the country ship or receive their highest- of terrorism against chemical facilities is real explain hazard chemical via truck or railcar, which move with that in order to inflict large-scale attacks on chemino escorts through heavily populated urban centers, cal facilities, terrorists require significant amounts of like Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.25 time, preparation, human, and financial resources. Chemical barges that navigate the nation’s waIf they were to only conduct smaller operaterways also move unmonitored. If terrorists were to tions like small-arms fire or kidnappings, law enforcetarget them as they sat in harbor or passed under- ment agencies would be in hot pursuit to arrest or neath a bridge, they could disrupt maritime traffic. detain them. So to make their attacks worth the risk “The federal government has the authority to regu- of their entire organization collapsing, terrorists will late the security of chemicals as they are being trans- remain dormant in order to inflict large-scale strikes ported on roads, railways, and waterways. With only that target the most number of Americans, paralyze one minor exception, the administration has not exer- the American economy, and damage American mocised this authority in any substantial way since Sept. rale. For this reason, if and when terrorists attack 11. There has been no meaningful improvement in the chemical facilities in the U.S., security of these chemicals they will no doubt have conmoving through our population ducted numerous surveillance centers.”26 and reconnaissance operations Because the governon these sites, as well as select ment has ignored these probonly those facilities that will lems for so long, chemical create the most disruption and facilities are easier to target chaos. and infiltrate than ever before. Even if terrorists manEvidence of this includes the aged to acquire the sophistidiscovery of illegal immigrants cation, organization, time, and working at various chemical resources to conduct a largesites throughout the country scale attack on a chemical fathat store hazardous material. cility, how deadly would the The Immigration and Customs strike really be? Some experts Enforcement bureau (ICE) con- Figure 1. A child victim of the Bhopal chemical downplay the risk that such an ducted one sting operation in leak. There are over 15,000 facilities in the United incident might pose to civilians. States that store hazardous materials. 2005 that ended in the arrest Daniel Benjamin and Steven Si-

The Skeptics

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mon, for instance, argue that an attack on a chemical facility would be less cataclysmic than previously thought because adverse environmental conditions could make dispersion difficult. Moreover, any serious attack would require large quantities of hazardous material to be stored, which often is not the case at many chemical facilities. Finally, terrorist attacks on chemical facilities will also be less potent since they will only affect small areas notwithstanding favorable wind conditions or high population density.

History Senator Jon S. Corzine’s Plan (2001) There have been several Congressional attempts to reform security at chemical plants. Six months after September 11, former Senator Jon S. Corzine originally introduced S. 1602, otherwise known as the Chemical Security Act of 2001 which sought to identify vulnerabilities at chemical plants, create security plans for at-risk facilities, and also grant authority to either the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve these plans. Senator Corzine’s bill made special inroads toward security reform because it included inherently safer technology (IST). IST refers to modifications in chemical manufacturing processes to neutralize or reduce the potential of a hazardous chemical release. These steps includes minimizing the amount of toxic material used, decreasing the temperatures and pressures required to create chemical materials, and replacing a hazardous substance with a less dangerous substitute.30 An example of IST implementation is the conversion of Washington, D.C.’s main sewage treatment plant from chlorine to safer chemicals just eight weeks after September 11.31 Eventually Democrat Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Republican Marge Roukema (R-NJ) introduced H.R. 5300, which was a nearly identical bill modeled after Corzine’s draft, to ensure that legislative efforts for reforming security at chemical facilities did not rely solely on Corzine’s bill in case it failed in debate. Soon the Corzine bill reported out of the Environment and Public Works Committee, whereas its House analogue, having been introduced late in the session, stalled in the Energy and Commerce Committee. 52

Senator James Inhofe’s Plan (2003) Whereas Corzine’s bill represented greater government control over security at chemical facilities, Senator James Inhofe’s plan, S. 994, sought to preserve the business interests of the chemical industry. A self-proclaimed neoconservative, Inhoffe introduced the “Chemical Facilities Security Act of 2003,” which required owners of selected chemical facilities to conduct security vulnerability assessments (SVA) while limiting the access that DHS had to such information. Regardless, the Department was not adequately staffed to handle a high volume of SVAs anyway. Inhoffe’s bill also granted all regulatory authority to the DHS, whereas the Corzine bills had assigned the EPA the lead role and the DHS merely a consultative role. The difference between both bills’ delegation of regulatory power to agencies represents different perspectives of looking at the same problem. Because Corzine’s bill would have granted more power to both the DHS and EPA, it acknowledged chemical facilities as posing a threat not only to America’s homeland defense, but also to wildlife, flora, and air and water quality. In this sense, it resembled an environmental bill. On the other hand, Inhoffe’s plan was similar to standard homeland security bills since it delegated all regulatory power to the DHS and designated human beings as the only stakeholders in an attack on chemical facilities. Therefore the legal orientation of Inhoffe’s plan demonstrates its failure to completely account for all the possible ramifications of an attack on a chemical facility, including the environment.

Chemical Companies Resist Changes The most glaring oversight in Inhoffe’s bill is its failure to require chemical companies to implement IST if they are deemed vulnerable targets. IST is the single most critical component of any viable piece of chemical security legislation since it does not merely just help companies avoid a terrorist attack, but actively reduces the threat of it occurring by replacing dangerous chemical materials. Regardless of the obvious benefits to IST, both Corzine and Inhoffe’s bills were defeated in Congress due to political squabbling over IST and the costs chemical companies may incur as a result. Corzine blamed the rejection of his bill on greedy, profit-hungry corporations when he said: “My bill was crushed by the American Chemistry Council. It was crushed

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by those who were looking after their private interests and not the public interests.”32 Trade associations such as the American Chemistry Council (ACC) represent over 135 companies with 2,000 facilities. They vehemently opposed Corzine’s bill, arguing that safety measures like IST placed companies at a competitive disadvantage and cost them profits. To help win political support for their position, the ACC even launched a television campaign, wrote newspaper editorials, and donated over $5,464,089 to the Republican National Committee and President George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004. There is no surprise then why seven Republican members of the Environment and Public Works Committee who had originally supported Corzine’s proposal later rejected it in 2002.33 In some sense, chemical executives still have legitimate reasons for opposing Corzine on this issue. If a company that spends money on security does not believe others are willing or able make similar investments, then it faces the likelihood of losing market share in an industry with already few competitors. As a result, a tragedy of commons arises since other companies follow the same logic and are similarly discouraged from pursuing safety measures.34 Other valid explanations for resisting chemical security reform include companies’ fear of exposing too much information about their business practices to the DHS. They rightfully worried that the DHS could leak trade secrets about critical processes and manufacturing, and subsequently compromising companies’ market position and reducing profits. Besides their doubts about DHS competence, company executives also legitimately opposed security reform because many are unsure about the exact amount they should invest in security measures like IST. At some point, security measures follow the rule of diminishing returns, which means that additional security investments purchase gradually less security. Before executives decide how much money to invest in security at their facilities, they usually require more information about the threat terrorists pose to their chemical sites. However, today in the post-September 11 era defense intel-

ligence is typically controlled by the federal government and lacks specificity. Sometimes this information is even withheld from chemical facilities, leaving the private sector unable to adequately assess the threat level against chemical facilities and determining the appropriate security measures it should take.35

Responsible Care Companies that object to government regulations, along with others that prioritize security but cannot act on it due to fears of government mismanagement, have created Responsible Care as a government regulation alternative. Responsible Care is a voluntary program created by the chemical industry and designed to implement industry-wide safety standards at chemical facilities while also protecting profit margins. It has members in 52 countries whose combined chemical industries account for nearly 90% of the world’s chemical production.36 Companies that opt into the program pledge to perform security audits on their facilities, identify vulnerabilities, and implement reforms commensurate to security risks. The most significant problem with this program is that it is completely voluntary. Chemical companies have little to no incentive to join Responsible Care other than to assure communities that their facilities do not pose a threat to civilian populations. For that reason, more than half of all chemical plants under Responsible Care do not participate in the program at all, which means they refuse to abide by any industry-wide safety standards.37 Another flaw in Responsible Care is that it permits companies to independently assess risks at their facilities using methods designed by an industry-funded research group, the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS). This group was created by another professional organization, the American Institute for Chemical Engineers (AICE), which typically supports actions that preserve profits for their employers, chemical companies.38 This further illustrates how incapable chemical companies are to meticulously assessing risks at their

Inherently safer technology (IST) refers to modifications in chemical manufacturing processes to minimize the potential of a hazardous chemical release.

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facilities because of business interests that cloud their judgment. Moreover, Responsible Care also requires companies to record security management procedures and file documents proving they have taken necessary actions to safeguard their facilities. The problem is that none of this information is required to be sent to federal or state agencies for appraisal because companies worry that their trade secrets could be disclosed and create competitive disadvantages. This action further restricts the public sector’s role in security management. However, Responsible Care claims to offer opportunities for the public sector to be involved with security practices at chemical facilities. Its guidelines, which are called the Security Code of Management Practices (SCMP), demand that signees report plausible security infractions to authorities on a need-be basis: “Companies take physical and cyber-security threats very seriously. In the event of such threats, companies promptly will evaluate the situation and respond. Real and credible threats will be reported and communicated to company and law enforcement personnel as appropriate.”39 Despite its promise to report security breaches to law enforcement, Responsible Care fails to explain exactly what constitutes a “a real and credible threat.” Without a clearer definition, some chemical companies could report suspicious persons to local authorities while others may merely offer a stern warning to offenders before letting them go. For example, Carl Prine, an investigative reporter at the Pittsburg Tribune, infiltrated the Neville Chemical Plant outside downtown Pittsburgh and stood next to a tank filled with the toxic gas, anhydrous ammonia. When guards finally caught him, the journalist only received a citation for trespassing, which included a $25 fine, plus court costs.40 Typically, however, trespassing on certain chemical companies’ property typically amounts to a felony offense. This is just one instance out of many in which confusion has arisen over chemical companies’ interpretation of a real and credible threat.41 One of the worst shortcomings of Responsible Care is its failure to mandate that all companies invest in IST. The SCMP merely identifies IST as an option for companies that implement security measures instead of requiring them to do so.42 Such corporate complacency places civilian populations in severe danger in the event of a chemical spill or gas leak. 54

Besides the risk it poses to communities, chemical companies’ inaction could be self-damaging in the long run. Stephen Flynn argues that chemical companies’ inaction could actually be self-damaging in the long run, and that they have several financial incentives in making appropriate security investments. In the event of a terrorist attack, those facilities that refused to implement safety measures could face drastically higher costs—possibly hundreds of millions of dollars—in recovery, victim compensation, and clean-up.43 Moreover, negligent companies also face a public relations nightmare and run the risk of permanently damaging their reputation among consumers. Some states have utilized these consequences to force companies to reform their security practices. New Jersey is a fine example. Arguably the state with the strongest safety standards in the country, the Garden State gives companies the choice to opt out of IST under the condition that they be held liable in the event of a chemical release.44 This provides companies with strong financial incentives to make the necessary security adjustments.

Section 550 also instituted mandatory security measures called the Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) for any facilities that possess chemicals of interest (COI) at or above specific Screening Threshold Quantities (STQ). If the amount of facilities’ COI go beyond STQ, they must submit a “Top Screen” report, which is a tool the DHS uses to decide which facilities are enough of a liability to require SVAs and SSPs. Companies that submit an SSP are quizzed as to how they would deter or avoid a terrorist attack, secure their facility’s perimeter from terrorist attack, protect from infiltration, and monitor suspicious persons.47 Serious problems lie with the current CFATS regulations. One is that they prohibit DHS from requiring companies to use IST to reduce the consequences of a terrorist attack on a chemical facility. CFATS also do not cover COI inside railroad facilities and long-haul pipelines.48 Both these are serious government oversights.

Section 550 and CFATS

Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) recently introduced the Chemical and Water Safety Act in June 2009 to address vulnerabilities at chemical facilities and water treatment plants. However, for the purposes of this paper, and to avoid confusing the reader, the author will focus only on Title I, which addresses security at chemical facilities. Title I of the Act for the first time ever not only codifies CFAT regulations that DHS created in 2007, but also requires facilities to implement IST if safety assessments reveal security vulnerabilities. Moreover, it authorizes the DHS to distribute nearly $900 million in funds from 2011-2013 to high-risk chemical facilities to help defray the costs of switching to IST. However, the main problem with this provision is that it may underestimate the costs for switching to IST. Depending on number of chemical facilities declared to be high-risk targets and required to switch to IST, which could be hundreds, $900 million may not be enough to cover all these costs. In which case, the chemical sector should foot the remainder of the bill. Title I of the Chemical and Water Safety Act also establishes an Office of Chemical Facility Security at the DHS to enforce the bill’s provisions. It specifies various criteria that the DHS Secretary should use in order to select an appropriate Director of the Office of Chemical Facility Security. These credentials include:

Despite the flaws in Responsible Care, the chemical lobby still attempted to hinder other legislative efforts to improve security at chemical facilities. Finally, during the 109th Congress, lawmakers compromised with chemical companies by incorporating security reform as a sunset provision within a larger bill like the DHS Appropriations Act of 2002 rather than creating one stand-alone bill. As a result, Section 550 was born, closely resembling Inhoffe’s bill to appease chemical lobbyists while still directing the DHS to establish risk-based security standards. Congress also decided to establish Section 550 as a sunset provision, meaning it would expire on October 3, 2009.45 Section 550 guidelines first require facilities to conduct security vulnerability assessments (SVA) and then submit to the DHS site security plans (SSP) that address any security weaknesses they found. The DHS can either approve or reject a facility’s SSP at its own discretion depending on if they determine such facilities to be dangerous risks to the public; however, it cannot mandate any particular security measure. Institutionally, Section 550 charges the DHS with assessing and evaluating SVAs and SSPs, leaving it up to the Department whether they should consult the EPA.46

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Current Efforts

“Professional qualifications and experience necessary for effectively directing the Office of Chemical Facility Security and carrying out the requirements of this title, including a demonstrated knowledge of physical infrastructure protection, cyber-security, chemical facility security, hazard analysis, chemical process engineering, chemical process safety reviews, or other such qualifications that the Secretary determines to be necessary.”49 Although Section 2114 also claims that the next Director should be chosen “from among a group of candidates that is diverse with respect to race, ethnicity, age, gender, and disability characteristics,” it neglects to proscribe religion as a disqualifying factor. In the post-September 11 era, many Muslims vying for work routinely suffer employee discrimination because of stereotypes that cast them as terrorists. Without a stipulation prohibiting religious discrimination during the hiring process for this position, Muslim candidates could be discriminated against and denied the opportunity to be seriously considered as a Director of the Office of Chemical Facility Security. This legal oversight is a civil rights violation waiting to happen. Section 2116 finally recognizes the community as an equal stakeholder in security reform by formulating the groundwork for citizen enforcement of the bill. According to this stipulation, ordinary citizens can file civil suits against the DHS Secretary for failing to carry out his or her obligations to security reform. They can also petition DHS to investigate certain safety violations at chemical facilities that they identify as private citizens. These measures help hold the DHS accountable for its actions.50 The bill also authorizes the DHS Secretary to regulate background check processes on all employees at affected chemical facilities, as well as create “measures designed to identify people with terrorist ties.” The DHS Secretary may choose the type of employees to be hired to work at chemical facilities, as well as specify which offenses require termination. Moreover, this section includes a special “savings clause” that still keeps the entire law intact even if one provision were deemed illegal by a court of law. This may have been included because of the possibility of some employers challenging the constitutionality of the provision.51 After all, it essentially authorizes the DHS Secretary to choose the qualifications for private sector chemical facility employees, which infringes on free market practices. A savings clause protects the

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entire law, however, even if the provision is deemed inappropriate. Thompson’s bill also prohibits the federal government from stripping states, cities, or municipalities of their authority to devise stricter regulations that surpass minimum federal homeland security requirements. DHS officials had originally opposed this provision, arguing in vain that it forces it to impose federal fines on facilities that violate state and local laws. Despite the Department’s outcry, this provision was kept intact within Thompson’s bill, and represents a major victory for many states that already hold chemical companies to strict safety standards. New Jersey, for example, has some of the toughest security guidelines in the country so it vigorously opposed any attempt to prohibit it from creating tougher chemical security standards than federal guidelines permitted. It even threatened legal action against Secretary Napolitano if it passed. Most recently, the House of Representatives passed the Chemical and Water Safety Act and sent it to the Senate on November 9, 2009. No specified timetable has yet been announced while it awaits debate.

As urgent as this problem is, preventing and reducing the lethality of a terrorist attack on an industrial facility is still a daunting task. So many various areas of chemical safety must be taken into account before Congress can reach consensus on the subject that it can bewilder even the most informed citizen. That explains why I have limited my recommendations to only those areas that I believe require the most attention, and which will result in comprehensive security reform.

reform. However, it appears as if those same special interests are preventing Obama from accomplishing this important objective. Many skeptics, including Steven Flynn and myself, believe he does not have the political capital to tackle chemical security while juggling healthcare reform, troop surges in Afghanistan, and a massive financial overhaul.52 During his electoral campaign, however, Obama often drew distinctions between himself and the Bush administration by making promises that facility security would become a priority in his administration. However, there is no mention of it on the current White House website. The only allusion he makes to it is still located on his transition website today, and all it says is that Obama pledges to “work with all stakeholders to enact permanent federal chemical plant security regulations.”53 Enough is enough. The time for empty promises and halfway assurances is over. If the Obama administration is serious about the threat terrorists pose to America industrial facilities, then rather than sending more troops overseas, it would make more sense if it poured the equivalent amount of financial resources into pressuring the chemical lobby and Congress to budge on this vital issue. President Obama should first declare IST an unconditional requirement for all chemical facilities in order to avoid imitating the Bush administration’s dangerous tendency to put chemical security on the backburner. Perhaps he could “go public” and travel across the U.S. to rally citizen support for chemical security reform, just as he did already for healthcare reform and the bank bailout. Otherwise if President Obama does nothing, more Americans will become disillusioned and cast him as another politician who ran on a platform for boosting homeland security despite continuing the same failed strategies implemented by his predecessor.

Remind President Obama to Fulfill His Campaign Promises

Pass the Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009

I recommend that President Barack Obama fulfill many of the promises he made to American citizens to keep them safe. While he was a U.S. Senator, Obama introduced legislation with Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) addressing chemical security. In one speech, he even acknowledged the numerous obstacles the chemical lobby had posed to any security

I urge Congress and the Obama administration to act quickly on constructing national safety standards at chemical facilities. The first step would be to make facility safety a priority by passing the Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009 this year. Despite the shortfalls I have identified earlier in this paper, this bill would for the first time create uniform measures that all facilities would be required to follow if they



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stored hazardous materials above legally established er. Such a measure not only keeps communities safe levels. Moreover, it also mandates that chemical com- but also business practices fair. panies use IST if the DHS deems they pose enough of CFATS regulations should also cover COI in a threat based on their SVAs and SSPs. transit. Currently, this is not the case, which means terrorists could explode railcars or vessels carrying dangerous substances like hydrochloric acid or acetone. Mandate Inherently Safer Technology Applying CFATS regulations in this regard would help However, regardless whether Congress or companies identify vulnerabilities within their transPresident Obama heed my advice and pass the Chem- portation procedures and address them accordingly. ical and Water Facility Act, I still recommend that the federal government require all chemical facilities to Expand the EPA’s Jurisdiction employ IST by the end of 2011. Without IST, chemical companies will continue to use hazardous materiI recommend that the EPA take a stronger role als in their manufacturing processes, which could kill in regulating safety standards since the Chemical and exponentially more people in the event of a terror- Water Security Act does not acknowledge this agenist attack on a facility. Chemical lobbyists must be si- cy as an equal stakeholder. Currently it mandates the lenced. As in many cases when the national interest DHS to consult with the EPA on issues it chooses at its is at stake, capitalism and even civil rights have been own discretion, even though in the event of an emercompromised to protect the lives of American citi- gency any chemical spill would no doubt devastate zens. Chemical companies must finally acknowledge the environment.54 that government regulations ultimately serve their inToday President Obama ignores this importerest by protecting their customers and preventing tant fact by maintaining the previous Bush adminisany type of public scrutiny that may fall upon them in tration’s policies confining the EPA’s regulatory authe event of a chemical spill. thority to only “drinking water and water treatment systems.”55 Limiting the EPA’s reach in this manner actually pushes the country’s 15,000 chemical plants Employ Universal CFATS Requirements under the jurisdiction of the DHS, which has too few Moreover, all chemical companies—not just resources to properly oversee all of them.56 The Act’s those with large amounts of hazardous materials— framework also permits more avenues for the DHS to should be required to submit SVAs and SSPs to DHS strain its resources because of its vague definition of for review. The reason being that many of the materi- what constitutes an actual terrorist attack. It identials which experts previously have proclaimed to be fies a “chemical facility terrorist incident” as “the resafe if accidentally released to the public may have lease of a substance of concern from a chemical facilunknown long-term health effects. Lead and mercury ity.”57 Such ambiguous terminology does not preclude are a few examples. For this reason, in order to pro- chemical spills caused by corporate negligence or tect communities from potential harm, the federal natural catastrophe, forcing DHS to treat chemical government should acknowledge that scientific con- spills as if they were terrorist attacks. sensus on the safety of many chemical substances is While chemical accidents may be potentially variable and force all chemical companies to abide by dangerous, they do not properly justify why DHS this same precaution. should again waste its precious resources on costly Requiring all chemical companies to submit security mechanisms that do not fulfill its original purSVAs and SSPs regardless of whether they contain pose, which is to respond to the threat that terrorists hazardous materials would also help level the playing pose to chemical facilities. Therefore it only makes field since all would have to pay the costs of assessing sense to assign authority to the EPA over incidents their security practices. For example, the facility that in which accidental spills may occur. Doing this would stores toxic chlorine gas would incur the same costs allow the DHS to refocus on the threat that terroridentifying vulnerabilities as the facility that stores ists pose to chemical facilities, rather than on any type harmless graphite. Because both companies must pay of industrial emergency that accidentally releases the costs for preparing these SVAs and SSPs, neither chemicals into the atmosphere and overextends the would have a competitive disadvantage over the oth- Department. THE RO OSEVE LT R EVIEW • Roosevelt In st it ute Campu s Network • Vo lume 4 • I ssue 1 • 20 1 0


Change Training Procedures The government should ensure that employees are adequately trained to identify security vulnerabilities and address them appropriately by requiring them complete a counterterrorism awareness program. A similar program is already required in New Jersey, but is limited to only petro-chemical facilities.58 For this reason, I recommend that this program be required throughout the entire chemical industry, including water treatment, sewage treatment and pesticide plants. I also suggest that union officials be trained by third-party officials to teach this course just like in New Jersey. Currently, the bill in Congress only states that company supervisors or facility operators lead the training courses even though they might attempt to skew employee security practices in order to cut costs and preserve profits. That’s why third-party officials who have no personal or financial interests in the issue, such as security experts from research institutions like Columbia University, should lead training programs because they would ensure impartiality. As for funding, the Department of Labor (DOL) should be responsible for constructing a grant program for training rather than the DHS, as is currently stipulated in the bill in Congress today. After all, DOL includes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is responsible for worker safety at all places of employment. Because the DHS could err and unnecessarily prioritize community interest above worker safety, it makes sense that the DOL be responsible for providing money for leadership training. Moreover, if the DHS provides money for this initiative, it runs the risk of overextending its financial resources. The DHS may also provide annual supplemental security training on a need-be basis.

which is critical. Instead, Congress should require all chemical companies to purchase GPS devices as part of its required security practices. This would relieve DHS officials from having to perform unnecessary monitoring so it can devote its resources elsewhere, such as reviewing companies’ SVAs or conducting site inspections. Even if chemical companies do not pursue comprehensive remedies to safeguard their plants, they should at least ensure physical security. Plants must completely fence off their entire property, purchase surveillance cameras, and employ capable and vigilant guards. Companies must also be mandated to conduct annual internal reviews. Third party officials should also conduct unannounced site inspections at facilities.

Improve Intelligence Sharing Between Government and Business

There should be greater communication between the public and private sectors. Despite skeptics’ assumptions, some chemical companies do actually want better security reform at their facilities. Whether it is because they sincerely care about their resident communities, or because they merely want to financially protect themselves, it does not matter. The fact is that these companies are unable to accurately estimate the amount of financial resources to independently invest in security reform without national safety standards and without adequate information about terrorists in general. I propose that the government provide chemical companies with more intelligence about active extremist groups in the U.S. and abroad, as well as recent trends in terrorism, so that these chemical companies Moreover, the federal government should also communicate what actions it has taken to deter Require GPS Devices and Ensure Physical terrorists from attacking the U.S., even if that means revealing some information about American troops’ Security actions overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan. This would I agree with Stephen Flynn that GPS devices ensure that chemical companies are not responding be placed on all trucks, railcars, and boats that ship to a threat that no longer exists because it was alchemical materials to and from industrial plants.59 ready neutralized. However, DHS should not fund or help to fund such a measure since it could become a strain on financial re- Guarantee Confidentiality sources. After all, most of the Department’s $900 million chemical security allocation is meant to help faThe federal government must ensure that all cilities subsidize the cost of switching from hazardous information about companies’ business practices resubstances to safer ones in manufacturing processes, main secret. Chemical executives have a legitimate 58

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excuse to avoid granting too much information to the DHS because of the Department’s spotty record of mismanaging data. The most recent Department embarrassment occurred when the Transportation Security Agency accidentally released secret passenger screening documents to the public, which could have provided terrorists with methods about bypassing airline security.60 The DHS must take appropriate actions to ensure that incidents like these never occur again; otherwise, the private sector will continue to mistrust the Department and lobby against security reform.

Develop Adequate Enforcement Mechanism There should finally be some kind of oversight capability to ensure that the aforementioned recommendations and safety measures are actually being implemented. Without an enforcement mechanism, many chemical companies will not budge on this vital issue. During my discussions with Flynn, he proposed that we include well-trained third party inspectors who are monitored by adequately staffed government inspectors. He argues that without an adequate enforcement mechanism, honest companies that want to sincerely keep communities safe will suffer financial losses if other companies willingly avoid regulations because they believe they will not be caught.61 I agree with his suggestion since it holds companies accountable to the government. However, I would suggest adding that third-party inspectors also include ordinary citizens who are trained by government inspectors as well. It is important to note that the communities which would be affected in the event of a terrorist attack be counted as an equal stakeholder in the issue at-hand. For this reason, companies should not bow to the government, but also the very citizens their facilities would endanger if an emergency gas leak or security lapse were to occur.

Conclusion Today the U.S. faces an extraordinary challenge. Because our enemies are not uniformed armies but rather elusive and shadowy extremist groups, the federal government is tasked with balancing offensive and defensive national security strategies. To a certain extent, President Bush’s plan to launch overseas

operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to avoid fighting terrorists at home is valid because it shields American citizens from the brunt of violence. However, it is dangerous for the U.S. to believe that solely an aggressive offense in the War on Terror is sufficient to eliminate the risk of an attack on a chemical facility. Any methodology to protect American lives should not preclude a strong defense. The U.S. must take precautionary measures to prevent terrorists from converting one of its chemical plants into an American Bhopal that could endanger the lives of thousands, if not millions of innocent lives. Only after the federal government begins regulating safety standards, performing site inspections, and exposing vulnerabilities in security paradigms at our nation’s chemical facilities, will Americans truly be safe in this age of terror.

Notes 1. “Dow: Pay Your Debt to the Victims of Bhopal Before Investing in New Textiles,” Greenpeace, h t t p : //w w w.g r e e n p e a c e .o r g /m u l t i m e d i a / d ow n l o a d /1 /59 2 2 0 6/0/f l ye r _ b h o p a l _ p a r i s _ fashion_21_09_2004.pdf. 2. Ingrid Eckerman, “Chemical Industry and Public Health: Bhopal as an Example” (M.P.H. diss., Nordic School of Public Health, 2001), 24. 3. Stephen Flynn, America the Vulnerable (New York: HarperCollins, 2004), 118. 4. James Grimaldi and Guy Gugliotta, “Chemical Plants Are Feared as Targets; Views Differ on Ways to Avert Catastrophe,” Washington Post, December 16, 2001. 5. “Federal Regulation of US Chemical Facilities’ Security: Moving Right Along,” Suburban Emergency Management Project, last modified March 24, 2008, accessed January 17, 2010, http:// 6. Ian Hacking, “What did Aum Shinrikyo have in mind?” London Review of Books 22 (2009): 3-8. 7. Brigitte L. Nacos, Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Understanding Threats and Responses in the PostSeptember 11 World (New York: Longman, 2009), 43-44. 8. Nic Robertson, “Tapes shed new light on bin Laden’s network,” CNN, last modified August 19, 2002, accessed October 14, 2009, http://archives. 9. Nacos, Terrorism and Counterterrorism, 133. 10. Flynn, America the Vulnerable, 119. 11. Hacking, “Aum Shrikyo.” 12. Eben Kaplan, “Targets for Terrorists: Chemical

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Facilities,” Council on Foreign Relations, last modified December 11, 2006, publication/12207/. 13. “The Risks of Hiring Infiltrators,” Stratfor Global Intelligence, last modified February 17, 2006, 14. Kaplan, “Targets for Terrorists.” 15. Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, The Next Attack: The Failure of the War on Terror and a Strategy for Getting It Right (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2005), 134. 16. “Study: 100 chemical plants could be terror target,” MSNBC, last modified July 6, 2006, http:// 17. David Kocieniewski, “Facing the City, Potential Targets Rely on a Patchwork of Security,” New York Times, May 9, 2005, accessed October 13, 2009, nyregion/09homeland.html. 18. James Grimaldi and Guy Gugliotta, “Chemical Plants Are Feared as Targets; Views Differ on Ways to Avert Catastrophe,” Washington Post, December 16, 2001. 19. Clark K. Ervin, Open Target: Where America Is Vulnerable to Attack (New York: Palgrave MacMillan Co., 2006), 153. 20. Paul Orum and Reece Rushing, “Chemical Security 101: What You Don’t Have Can’t Leak, or Be Blown Up by Terrorists,” Center for American Progress, last modified November 19, 2008, http://www. security.html. 21. Cat Lazaroff, “Chemical Plant Attack Could Claim a Million Lives,” Environmental News Service, last modified March 13, 2002, accessed October 13, 2009, mar2002/2002-03-13-07.asp. 22. “Final Report on September 11 Commission Recommendations,” September 11 Commission, last modified December 5, 2005, accessed October 31, 2009, press/2005-12-05_report.pdf. 23. The Security of America’s Chemical Facilities, 109th Cong. (2005) (testimony of Stephen Flynn). 24. Ibid. 25. Orum and Rushing, “Chemical Security 101,” 8. 26. Benjamin and Simon, The Next Attack, 131. 27. Ibid., 134. 28. John Mueller, “Is There Still a Terrorist Threat?: The Myth of the Omnipresent Enemy,” Council on Foreign Relations, last modified November 24, 2009, john-mueller/is-there-still-a-terrorist-threat-themyth-of-the-omnipresent-en. 60

29. John Mueller, Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them (Washington, D.C.:Free Press, 2006). 30. James Beebe, “Inherently safer technology: the cure for chemical plants which are dangerous by design,” Houston Journal of International Law 28 (2006): 239-280. 31. “Bush administration AWOL on Chemical Plant Security,” Public Citizen, last modified October 14, 2004, cfm?ID=1810. 32. Rebecca Leung, “U.S. Plants: Open To Terrorists,” CBS News, last modified February 11, 2009, accessed October 26, 2009, http://www.cbsnews. com/stories/2003/11/13/60minutes/main583528. shtml. 33. “Bush administration AWOL on Chemical Plant Security.” 34. Leung, “U.S. Plants.” 35. Ibid. 36. “Responsible Care®,” Linde Group, accessed November 21, 2009, i n t e r n a t i o n a l /w e b / l g /u s / l i k e l g u s 3 0. n s f/ docbyalias/nav_resp_care. 37. Ervin, Open Target, 154. 38. “Security Code of Management Practices,” American Chemistry Council, accessed October 21, 2009, Stories/ACC%20Security%20Code%20Final.pdf. 39. Ibid. 40. Leung, “U.S. Plants.” 41. John W. Stephenson, “Judge drops anti-terror charges in power plant trespassing,” MLive, last modified November 11, 2008, accessed October 18, 2009, index.ssf/2008/11/judge_drops_antiterror_charges. 42. “Security Code of Management Practices.” 43. Stephen E. Flynn, email message to author, November 22, 2009. 44. Kaplan, “Targets for Terrorists.” 45. “Chronology of Legislation on Chemical Security,” Greenpeace, last modified July 20, 2009, accessed November 6, 2009, http://www.greenpeace. org/raw/content/usa/press-center/reports4/ chronology-of-bush-inaction-an.pdf. 46. “Chemical Plant Security Legislation: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, Where We’re Going,” Beveridge & Diamond, last modified April 29, 2009, accessed October 29, 2009, http://www. 47. Ibid. 48. “Chemical Security Assessment Tool,” Department of Homeland Security, accessed October

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14, 2009, f?p=100:1:159049264504743. 49. The Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009, H.R. 2868, 111th Cong. (2009), §2113-2116. 50. Ibid. 51. Ibid. 52. Flynn, email message to author, November 22, 2009. 53. “Agenda: Homeland Security,” The Office of the President-Elect, accessed November 16, 2009, agenda/. 54. The Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009, §2120-2123. 55. “Bush administration AWOL on Chemical Plant Security.” 56. Flynn, America the Vulnerable, 118. 57. The Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009, §2101-2103. 58. “Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force 2004-2005 Progress Report,” New Jersey Domestic Security Preparedness Task Force, last modified January 2006, accessed October 14, 2009, NJDSPTF-04-05-021706.pdf. 59. Flynn, America the Vulnerable, 121. 60. Jaikumar Vijayan, “TSA officials put on administrative leave after security lapse,” Computer World Security, last modified December 9, 2009, accessed October 19, 2009, http://www. officials_put_on_administrative_leave. 61. Stephen E. Flynn (Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies, Council on Foreign Relations), in discussion with the author, November 22, 2009.

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Mixed-Member Proportional Representation ABOUT THE AUTHOR William Organek graduated from Columbia University in 2010 with a B.A. in Economics–Philosophy. A member of Roosevelt’s Columbia chapter since the beginning of his freshman year, Organek served as Chairman of Roosevelt’s Electoral Reform Center and as Finance Director and Assistant Editor of the Columbia Roosevelt Review. Since graduating, Organek has been living in Singapore and Shanghai and working with the U.S. EB-5 Program, which allows individuals to become U.S. citizens by investing in job-creating companies in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Fixing the “People’s House” WILLIAM ORGANEK Columbia University

Mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) would fundamentally alter the way that Americans elect members of the House of Representatives. Currently, Representatives in the U.S. are elected from single-member geographical constituencies in which only one candidate can win in a given race. In most other Western democracies, however, members of the legislature are elected through proportional systems which allocate representation to parties based on the proportion of votes each party receives. The U.S. practice of singlemember, single-winner geographic districts often leads to district boundaries which are either drawn arbitrarily or for the political gain of one political party. Such a system necessarily underrepresents some constituencies while overrepresenting others, contributing to electoral ills such as a restricted pool of candidates, low voter turnout, and the dearth of serious alternative political parties.

In contrast, the system most popular in other Western democracies allocates seats in the legislature to parties in proportion to the percentage of the total vote which they manage to secure, thus including as many political parties and viewpoints as possible while minimizing the negative consequences which are so prevalent in the U.S. However, such systems tend to discourage politicians from taking an interest in strictly local issues, thus limiting their ability to perform useful services for their constituents and preventing the formation of a strong link between constituents and their representative. The MMP system attempts to combine the best aspects of each system by creating a two-track legislature in which half of the legislators are elected from geographical constituencies, while the other half are elected from multiple-member districts, thus maintaining the bonds that legislators share with their geographical constituents while mitigating the problems caused by our current system.

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Introduction The United States is the world’s oldest extant constitutional representative democracy, and many of the initial democratic reforms which spread throughout the world in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were based on innovations pioneered in America. Yet the problems that plague America’s democracy are well-known: abysmally low turnout, incredibly polarized parties, the replacement of discourse by mudslinging, legislative policy which often does not reflect the will of the majority, a legislature that does not reflect America’s contemporary demographics, and the ever-present cry of voters who feel that their representatives do not represent them. America falls far behind most Western democracies in many statistical measures of voter participation, minority representation, and the inclusion of competing views in the legislature, despite being “the most democratic country in the world.” Why is this?1 And what can we do to fix it? This essay will discuss how our flawed electoral system causes, or contributes to, many of these problems, and will suggest a solution which could remedy these issues.

Analysis Winner-Take-All and Its Discontents Our “democracy technology” is the set of laws, practices, and institutions which dictate how we elect our representatives.2 In the U.S., almost all elections follow either a legislative or an executive paradigm. For the executive (mayoral, gubernatorial, and even Presidential elections), there is one indivisible office, and only one candidate may be elected.3 However, each legislative election pits two (or sometimes more) competitors against one another for a single seat, and “come Election Day, one—and only one—victor will emerge because one—and only one—seat has been contested.”4 That is, if two candidates are competing in a given House race, the candidate who receives the most votes wins—even if the contest results in an outcome of 50.1% to 49.9%. This zero-sum pattern of winner-take-all (WTA) is repeated in every state and federal legislative election in the country, making alternatives almost unheard-of in the American experience. And, with such a simple and intuitive system, 64

why think of alternatives? Unfortunately, the price of this simplicity is quite steep indeed. The WTA system, by forcing candidates to square off for a single seat—for the chance to be the only representative in a given district—causes or encourages a host of electoral ills which are not immediately apparent. To begin with, the WTA system leads to a lack of competition in elections: geographical districts have been routinely drawn to create majorities for either one party or the other, thus raising questions about the legitimacy of many elections.5 In fact, in 2000, a full 41% of elections for state legislatures were only contested by one of the two major parties, making these elections little more than shows; nationwide, the statistics are arguably worse. Roughly 90% of incumbents are routinely re-elected, even while Congress’ approval ratings are perpetually well below 50%.6 If most of the country does not like Congress, how do the vast majority of individual members keep getting elected? At a state-wide level, in 2000 fourteen states had single-party monopolies in Congress, while another eleven states were one Representative shy of a monopoly, for a total of half of the states; today, that figure stands at fifteen one-party states, again with another eleven states only one Representative shy of a monopoly.7 This lack of competition is troubling enough, but the truly unfortunate aspect is a direct consequence of the WTA system: for the residents of a one-party state who do not support that party, they are not represented when issues fall along ideological lines. “To obscure the disenfranchising nature of Winner Take All, it has been necessary to construct a truly odd notion that defies even secondgrader logic: that a legislator represents you just because he or she sits in the chair—even if he or she is diametrically opposed to your point of view, and even if you in fact voted for someone else.”8 Such “orphaned voters” have nobody to speak for them, and cannot be blamed for becoming apathetic in light of this disenfranchisement—why should a New York Republican or a Wyoming Democrat bother to vote?9 And, when they do bother to vote, the “representational ripoff”—the difference between the percentage of the vote that a party gets and the percentage of seats that said party gains in the legislature—is significant. For example, in Massachusetts in 2000, “35% of voters pulling R in the presidential race won only 14% of state House seats, a huge representation ripoff of 21%.”10 The equation of 50% of the vote with

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100% of the representation in a given district creates one-party swathes of the country, disenfranchising millions and discouraging them from voting in the future, while denying representation to those that did bother to vote. At the extremes of this ripoff, the electoral oddities of WTA can create “manufactured majorities,” which occur “when election procedures give a party that receives less than 50% of the vote more than 50% of the seats in the legislature.”11 As an example, if, in a three-way race, if party A won 40% of the vote, party B 35% and party C 25%, then party A would win 100% of the representation from that district, even though it won far less than 100% of the vote.12 This example can play itself out nationwide, to great and damaging effect: in the 2000 House election, Republicans won 47.96% of the vote (compared to Democrats’ 47.94%), but won 50.8% of the seats—and thus, 100% of the powerful Congressional committee chairs, and unimpeded majority status, in spite of the fact that the majority of the country did not vote for the Republicans.13 While this may seem like a strange and unfortunate outcome, “[t]he aim of plurality systems [such as the U.S. system] is to create a ‘manufactured majority,’ that is, to exaggerate the share of seats for the leading party.”14 WTA is responsible for these flaws, and reforming this system would go a long way towards fixing them.15 In addition to leaving a huge proportion of the electorate without represention, and disillusioning another significant part of the electorate, the WTA system adds insult to injury by claiming that the only important dimension of representation is geographic location. By creating a WTA system that is based on arbitrarily-drawn lines,16 it denies voters the ability to determine the characteristics that they consider to be most important in their representative. For instance, some voters might consider race or gender to be more important than geographic location. Yet, these minority voters would, by definition, fall in the minority, and therefore be unable to secure representation in the WTA system.17 While not every minority would vote for a candidate of his or her group simply because the candidate is a member of that minority, there is a very visceral sense of fairness which would dictate that

minorities be represented in the legislature in proportion to their presence in the overall population, however, this is manifestly not the case in the United States. For instance, in 2002, only 14% of the House of Representatives were female, although slightly more than half of the country is female. Similarly, in 2002, African-Americans made up 12.9% of the population, or (ideally) 56 seats in the House. In reality, African-Americans only held 37 seats. Hispanics fared even more poorly, controlling only 4.4% of the House in 2002 despite making up 12.5% of the population, and other minorities fare even worse.18 Today, these statistics are only marginally better: women make up 17% of the House; while African-Americans, making up approximately 13% of the country, comprise 9.5% of the House, and hold only one (appointed, not elected) seat in the Senate; and Hispanics, the fastest-growing large immigrant group, comprising almost 14% of the population, hold a paltry 3 seats in the Senate and 5% of the House.19 These minorities—some with very specific, narrowly-focused problems and policy ideas—often cannot gain acceptance of their ideas by the majority by definition; in our WTA system, they are denied representation entirely. How can a majority white and male legislature—in “the People’s House,” no less—claim to speak for our diverse, multiracial society, or solve the issues that are particular to one of these minorities?20 As we will see below, a proportional representation-based system would be more likely to ensure that minorities and women would be represented in the legislature in proportion to their presence in the population. But, supporters of the WTA system might retort, people with views outside of the mainstream still have opportunities for representation through the election of third-party candidates. By some measures third-parties are as strong as they have ever been in the U.S.: fully one-third of the electorate does not identify with either party, and movements like the Tea Party are an example of working within the system to represent other views. Surely, they will be able to have their views represented. Unfortunately, for all of the energy and enthusiasm of the Tea Party, political scientists have generally agreed that this enthusiasm is unlikely to translate

How can a majority white and male legislature—in “the People’s House,” no less—claim to speak for our diverse, multiracial society?

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into large electoral wins for Tea Partiers. The reason for this—known in the academic literature as Duverger’s Law—and the associated issues of wasted votes, spoiler candidates, and the interminable quest for “swing voters” make it all but impossible for the Tea Party to make electoral gains, in spite of their large and growing support base.21 According to Duverger’s Law, two-party systems “are the product of single-member plurality systems,” because the requirement to win such a large portion of the vote (50% + 1 vote) provides huge disincentives for an interest group (such as environmentalists) that is likely only to gain a small part of the vote to remain its own party.22 Instead, it would be best for them to become part of a larger party (such as the Democrats for environmentalists, or the Republicans for Tea Partiers), and this process continues until only two parties remain.23 Our WTA system necessitates two-parties, limits representation and choice, and thus discourages voting. In addition to the more insidious problems of underrepresentation, disenfranchisement, and a lack of minority and female representation, this twoparty system leads to a host of familiar ills such as wasted votes, spoiler candidates, and lesser-of-twoevils choices, each of which is both perilous for the health of our democracy, but can be easily remedied. As a result of Duverger’s Law, the two-party system is an inherent consequence of WTA, imprinted into the very DNA of our “democracy technology.” As a result, when presented with more than two choices on the ballot—all but two of which will come from a third party—a voter who might not agree with the positions of either major party is presented with a common choice: do they vote with their hearts, selecting the candidate that they know will not win or, do they vote with their heads, and select a candidate other than their preferred candidate?24 The negative ramifications of this dilemma manifest themselves in numerous ways: if they vote for their preferred candidate, their vote is wasted because it cannot possibly help that candidate over the 50% + 1 hump. Worse still, such a decision could actually help a candidate they prefer least to get elected: voters who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, most likely preferred Al Gore to George W. Bush, but their vote helped Bush get elected. Similarly, voters in the 2009 special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional district (many of whom were Tea Party supporters), in splitting their vote between Scozzafava and the more 66

conservative, Tea Party-supported Hoffman, helped to elect Owens, a Democrat who would have been their last choice of the three. And again, the recent nomination of Christine O’Donnell (a Tea Party-backed Republican) in Delaware significantly increased the likelihood of Chris Coons, the Democrat in that race, being elected. In all of these situations, the third-party candidate turned out to be a “spoiler,” enabling the election of the candidate that was at times the least ideologically-preferred by the electorate.25 Alternatively, a voter might see this inevitability, and choose a candidate that they prefer less in order to have their vote count; however, such a predicament is unfair to the voter. Moreover, this lesserof-two-evils choice is completely unnecessary. Yet, even ignoring the worst-case spoiler scenarios, it is obvious that anyone who voted for a losing candidate wasted their vote. Everyone who voted for the Democrat in a race where a Republican won, or vice-versa, gains nothing from their vote, even if the race was decided by only one vote. Such an outcome is unfair to the whole electorate, particularly to those who voted for the third-party or losing candidate. However, this does not need to be the case. Finally, it is important to see how the two-party monopoly, combined with the distortionary effects of WTA, leads to lower voter turnout and voter apathy. The two parties in our system occupy a relatively small part of the political spectrum—in other countries, areas of the political spectrum which are covered by smaller parties are not represented in the U.S. Voters often feel that their views are not represented by legislators in either party: many voters with what would internationally be considered quite mainstream views have no corresponding representation in Congress. This unfortunate consequence of the two-party system, combined with the distortionary effects of the WTA system, profoundly affects the motivation of citizens to vote. Why would someone vote if they cannot vote for the candidate that they want most to win, for fear of electing their least-favored candidate? Why vote if neither of the candidates from the two major parties expresses views that accord with their own? Why should a Democrat vote in a heavily-Republican area, or vice-versa? Why, even, should Democrats or Republicans bother to contest these elections? For this question, there is a simple answer: they do not contest many elections, and in 2008, 12% of House races went uncontested.26 The reasons for voter apathy and low voter turnout in the U.S. are manifold

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If I win... lose.

If I have representation... If my preferred candidate has no chance of winning... Do I vote my hopes... If we drive voters away from their candidate... If I run to the center to attract swing voters... If I appeal to my base... If we’re for it... If we’re against it...

you don’t. I can only help elect someone less preferred. or my fears? the only choice left is our candidate. I will alienate my base. I’ll drive away swing voters. then they’re against it. then they’re for it.

Figure 1. A table illustrating the pitfalls of binary politics. The current two-party monopoly sustained by the winner-take-all systemnaturally leads to lower voter turnout and voter apathy, as voters are constantly forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.

and extensively studied, and there is no “silver bullet” solution. But, reforming the WTA system could go a long way towards fixing it. The WTA system exacts more than a pound of flesh for its supposed simplicity. To begin with, a lack of competition within elections subdues turnout and turns elections into a formality for much of the country. Next, WTA creates “orphaned voters”—voters without a representative to speak for them—with the ironic result that, the closer the results of an election, the more people who go unrepresented, and the larger number of votes that simply do not count. Vote dilution is another problem, often leading to a significant “representational ripoff,” because the percentage of voters who vote for a specific party is often much higher than the percentage of seats that said party eventually gets in the legislature. On the other side of the ripoff, sometimes parties which win less than 50% of the vote can gain more than 50% of the seats, leading to a seemingly unfair situation in which a party which did not win a majority holds majority status, and all of the associated legislative benefits. The WTA system also fails to represent minorities and women effectively, and implicitly claims that women’s and minority issues could be solved more effectively by an overwhelmingly white and male legislature. Finally, because of the inescapable logic of Duverger’s Law, the two-party system is completely entrenched in our “democracy technology,” and problems such as spoiler candidates, wasted votes, and lesser-of-two-evils choices are inevitable. In short, “electoral rules are not neutral: the way votes translate into seats means that some groups, parties, and representatives are ruled into the policy-making process, and some are ruled out.”27 The disadvantages of the WTA system are thus extremely significant. What can be done to address them?28

The Simple Solution: Proportional Representation As bleak as the picture may seem, all is not lost. An established method exists which has been tested by dozens of countries over the past sixty years, with great success: proportional representation (PR). PR is a system based on a different theory of representation from WTA, and as a result, both uses different procedures and ensures different outcomes from the ones common to the WTA system. In this way, PR manages to produce governments which more fairly represent, reflect, and govern the people which they serve. The philosophy supporting the WTA system is one where representation is secondary to the logic of needing to win just over 50% of the vote, and therefore can be summed up quite succinctly: “If you have representation, then I don’t [italics in the original].”29 Representation, according to this philosophy, is not something that everyone deserves; rather, it is a prize to be won, at the expense of those unfortunate others who share your (arbitrary) district. More than the unfortunate mathematical effects of two choices—as discussed above—and even more than the policy ramifications of binary politics,30 the WTA system explicitly denies that representation in a democratic government is a fundamental right. Once the gravity of such a statement is fully comprehended, it is not difficult to see how anti-democratic it is: whether we subscribe to the most cuttingedge views on political pluralism, or the intellectual ideas of the post-war democratic consensus, or even the ideas of the Framers to discuss representation, all agree that the representative assembly “should be in miniature an exact portrait of the people at large,” and therefore all should be represented by it—not just those who won.31 This idea speaks to the fundamental

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belief that minority rights should be protected from a “tyrannical majority,” a belief upon which we are taught that our government was founded. As important as the fundamental right of representation is the different answers that WTA and PR provide to the following question: “Who will do the governing and to whose interests should the government be responsive when people are in disagreement?”32 The WTA system posits “the majority” as the answer; the PR system, more satisfactorily, suggests that the answer is “as many people as possible.”33 By what mechanism does PR include as many people as possible? PR, as its name suggests, allocates seats in a legislature according to the percentage of the vote that a given party won. In order to do this, it is necessary to depart from our current system in which each district is represented by a single legislator (known in the literature as the single-member district approach), and embrace a system where multiple members can be elected in a district (a multi-member district). Then, in an election, seats in the legislature are meted out according to the proportion of the vote that a given party won, rather than only to the winners. To prevent electoral instability and the presence of too many small parties (a common attack on PR systems), an electoral threshold is set, mandating that a party attain at least a certain percentage of the vote in order to gain seats in the legislature.34 Once these simple changes are made, the effects on representation can be startling. As an example, imagine a state with ten Representatives, and imagine that statewide Republicans comprise 60% of the electorate, while Democrats comprise 30%, and a third party captures the final 10%, and that these voters are distributed evenly within the state. The different outcomes that the WTA system and a PR system would precipitate, given the same exact electorate, can be seen in Figure 2. In the WTA system, in each district the vote split would be 60% R, 30% D, and 10% I, leading to a Republican victory in each election, and thus giving Republicans victories in all ten seats, as well as control of the entire legislature. This unfairly boosts Republican representation to the detriment of almost half of the electorate, and places no dissenting voices in the legislature.

Democrats and Independents would have to watch idly as “their” representatives did exactly the opposite of what they would want. Now, compare these results with those from the PR elections. Because PR allocates seats in the legislature based on percentage of the vote, rather than on simply winning, and because the district has more than one member, the legislative seats can be distributed more fairly. PR systems anticipate that each party will be able to win at least one, if not multiple seats, and thus each party nominates many candidates to run for seats in a given district. Usually, candidates for an election are placed on an ordered list on the ballot, called a closed party list: candidates from a party’s list are elected in order of their placement on the list, and in proportion to the percentage of the vote that they won. Other countries use a system called an open party list, where the party nominates candidates but allows the voters to choose the order in which they are selected to go to the legislature. The open party list system is similar to the U.S. primary system, in that it allows voters to choose which candidates are selected by each party; however, it does this with a system that is far less distortionary than the primary system, for reasons discussed below. In this election, even though the Republicans again took 60% of the vote, they are given 6 seats in the legislature—not too many, but just the right amount. The Democrats, too, are treated more fairly: rather than being excluded entirely, they are given 3 seats in the legislature. And, in an event almost without precedent in the U.S., the Independent is also given a seat. The party only attracted 10% of the vote— but, that does not matter. Rather than being shut out entirely from political representation, they are accorded representation in proportion to their electoral strength. 35 Like a Goldilocks of Elections, each party has not too many seats nor too few, but the amount that is “just right,” and nobody is shut out of the system. This simple example shows the differing philosophies of WTA and PR in action. Rather than giving Republicans too much representation, to the detriment of 40% of the electorate, PR gives voters ex-

Proportional representation would facilitate the goal of achieving fair and accurate representation for everyone— but it isn’t perfect.


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Winner Take All

Proportional Representation

10 seats in 10 districts Electoral Tally: 60% R, 30% D, 10% I Legislative Composition: R: 10 seats D: 0 seats I: 0 seats

10 seats in 10 districts Electoral Tally: 60% R, 30% D, 10% I Legislative Composition: R: 6 seats D: 3 seats I: 1 seat

Figure 2. Under the WTA system, a district in which Republicans comprise 60% of the electorate would be represented solely by Republicans. Under a PR system, the same district would be represented by 6 Republicans, 3 Democrats, and 1 Independent.

actly what they ask for. “In a stroke, [PR allows] views and voices that are usually suppressed to receive representation, broadening the effective political spectrum” and thus increasing the likelihood that many more citizens will vote.36 It also prevents the insidious effects of the WTA system: voters would not need to worry about spoiler candidate, their votes would almost never be wasted, and since a smaller proportion of the electorate would be necessary to elect a candidate, minority and women candidates would be much more electable. In short, PR would facilitate the goal of achieving fair and accurate representation for everyone. But PR is not perfect. For PR to work properly, multi-member districts are critical—without them, it would be impossible to distribute representation equitably to all parts of the electorate. And, for reasons that are too mathematically complicated for this paper,37 the more members elected from a given district, the more accurately voters’ preferences can be translated into the composition of the legislature. Political scientists agree that a multi-member district, to be effective, should elect at least five representatives; but, in the U.S., where each single-member district currently contains over 650,000 people—oftentimes with very distinct local needs—creating districts with over 3.25 million people could reasonably be suspected to dilute representation in an important fashion. It is important to realize that a multi-member district with five representatives and 3.25 million people would still have the same ratio of legislators to constituents as a single-member district with 650,000 people—this is not the sense in which local representation would be diluted. Instead, it is America’s unique system of local governance—in the sense that a voter has one distinct representative whom he or she can contact with grievances—which could be placed at jeopardy if a pure PR system were implemented.38 For each district to have 3.25 million people, entire cities,

regions, and at times whole states would need to be combined into a single district. People who currently believe that they have a close tie to “their legislator” would be hurt by this proposal. While this may be the best solution to WTA’s obvious ills, such a dissolution of local governance may be too much to ask for. In a country with over 10,000 school districts, thousands of elected officials at all levels of government, and fiercely independent hamlets, towns, villages, and cities, subordinating the local to the national, or even state level—even if it is to fix such grievous electoral ills as our WTA system causes—may simply be asking for too much. It goes against 200 years of traditionally local governance, and for this reason it may simply be politically untenable. Fortunately, a pure PR system— one which completely eliminates single-member districts, local representation, and a reasonable claim on the part of the voter to “my representative”—is not the only way to address these ills. A better kind of system exists, one which combines the best of both worlds.

The Complete Solution: Mixed-Member Proportional Representation If single-member districts and WTA causes huge, unacceptable problems, while pure PR goes against too much tradition and custom, then a solution which operates on both principles would seem to be ideal. Fortunately, such a system exists: mixedmember proportional representation, also known as MMP. In this ingenious system, the legislature is elected by two parallel systems, with one part coming from traditional single-member districts, and being elected in the familiar WTA fashion; meanwhile, the other part of the legislature is elected from larger, multi-member districts, utilizing the fairer PR system. This system allows each voter to claim a single representative as his or her own, since they directly represent his or her district; at the same time, this voter can be sure that

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above, the flaws of such a system are accepted in light of the perceived positives of this method of election: “providing the geographical representation and close constituency ties of single-member plurality voting.”40 In order to overcome these deficiencies, however, a second part of the ballot exists, where the voter votes for a party, and the seats for this part are allocated proportionally. One crucial feature is that the candidates on these two sides are different: it would be entirely possible to elect a Republican from one’s district, and yet cast one’s partyFigure 3. A sample ballot under the mixed-member proportional representation system, which would side ballot for the allow a Republican voter to select a Democratic candidate (or vice versa). Adapted from Douglas Amy’s Democrats. This Real Choices/New Voices: How Proportional Representation Could Revitalize American Democracy. gives the voter a his or her views are accounted for at a national level, significant amount by the party which adheres most closely to his or her of flexibility: if he or she believes that environmental personal views. Such a system allows a voter to make policy is important nationally, but believes that a spean educated decision about what is best both for the cific party, or even a specific candidate, would be best country and for his or her individual district, without for his or her personal district, he or she can split his needing to sacrifice one for the other, or place the ticket effectively, potentially securing the election of provincial above the national, or vice-versa. both candidates. In the sample ballot in Figure 3, if a To explain the mechanics of MMP, Figure 3 (see voter prefers Lintz as a candidate, but believes that next page) contains a sample MMP ballot. Each voter the New Party will be best nationally, he or she can has two votes: one which goes towards the voter’s vote in that manner; or, if he or she thinks that the Inrepresentative from that district, and one which goes dependent will be best equipped to “bring home the towards the national parties. For the district election, bacon” to his or her district, but prefers the fiscal austhe candidate with the most votes wins, and each dis- terity of the Libertarians nationally, that is a viable optrict is represented by only one representative—this tion as well—the possibilities for choosing the most impart, in other words, is exactly the same as our cur- portant factors in electing a candidate, whether it be rent system, with all of its flaws.39 But, as discussed political ideology, personality, race, gender, capability, 70

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Mixed-member proportional representation is a system which can transform American elections.

or any other quality, allows the voter to make the best decision possible. With this system, no longer will a voter need to decide between a good candidate with bad policies or a bad candidate with good policies—now, the voter can have both. One additional characteristic of MMP merits mention: the party-list votes (on the right side of the ballot) “determine the total portion of the 100-seat legislature that each party deserves.”41 For instance, if the Democrats won 40% of the vote on the right side of the ballot, then they would be entitled to 40% of the total legislature. If, for example, in a 100-seat legislature, 28 Democrats had already been directly elected from the left side of the ballot from 28 districts around the country, then the Democrats would be entitled to an additional 12 seats in the legislature, and these candidates would come from the party side of the ballot.42 This not only ensures, as already discussed, that each party gets seats in the legislature proportionate to its vote share, but it also allows the voter to vote for both local and national issues simultaneously, expressing different preferences for each if the voter so chooses. And, while MMP retains some of the structure—and hence some of the flaws—of the WTA system, it rectifies those in part through the additional use of a PR system, while still retaining the few good parts of the WTA system. MMP is a compromise between the merits of these two systems which combines the best of both systems, while fixing, in part, the flaws of both.

Implementing MMP: Barriers and Solutions As we have seen, MMP is a system which could transform American elections: they could quickly become more representative, more equitable, and more open; they could almost instantaneously shed some of the worst problems of the WTA system, including wasted votes, misrepresentation, and a lack of electoral competition; and all of this could be done with both “the relative diversity promoted by PR and the relative stability offered by SMP.”43 How would MMP be implemented in the U.S.? What would have to change, and what could not change? The easiest way for MMP to be implemented in the U.S. would be for the House of Representa-

tives exclusively to adopt it. The Senate could not easily be part of this process, since the Constitution clearly mandates that “the Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State”— multi-member districts and would be impossible without a Constitutional amendment, and because of the constraints that Article 5 places on the amendment of this clause, it would require the agreement of every state to alter the equal-representation formula of the Senate, something which would be almost impossible.44 Scholars agree, on the other hand, that “there is no constitutional requirement or demand of democratic theory that requires” single-member districts in the House.45 There is, however, “one federal law passed in 1967—ironically enough to support the . . . Voting Rights Act’s efforts to elect more racial minorities—that mandates single-seat districts in U.S. House elections.”46 For MMP to be implemented, this law would need to be repealed, so that states could begin to pass laws and constitutional amendments allowing for the use of multi-member districts. Next, multi-member districts would need to be created. This, of course, poses a problem for the twelve states which only have one or two Representatives, as it would be impossible to create multi-member districts in these states47; however, the reason that these states have so few Representatives—and the reason that the House of Representatives has the second-highest ratio of citizens-to-legislators in the world—is because of Public Law 62-5 (1913), which mandated that the House of Representatives be frozen at 435 members, regardless of population increases.48 Since the implementation of Public Law 62-5 (1913), the population of the U.S. has tripled, while the House has only increased in size twice, once each to admit the Representatives from Hawaii and Alaska. If this law were repealed, and replaced by a measure which provided states with more representatives, then this problem, too, could be avoided. With these two laws repealed, the vast majority of states could experiment with multi-member districts, laying the foundation for MMP. While many Americans have not heard of the MMP system, Germany has been using it successfully since 1949, and PR systems have been widespread around the world for decades. Additionally, while

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there are hurdles to the implementation of MMP, its passage is far from impossible, and in fact would only require a majority of Representatives (and sixty Senators) to vote for it. Why, then, have U.S. policymakers, politicians, or citizens not picked up on the flaws of WTA and urged implementation of an MMP system? Three main reasons explain this: elected officials’ selfinterest, apathy and misinformation, and institutional inertia. Each of these, fortunately, has a reasonable solution, and thus none pose an insurmountable problem to the adoption of MMP. First, it must be understood that while electoral reform is often discussed, radical reforms which would fundamentally alter our system are rarely discussed by those in power. This is because such systematic reform hits at the core of every politician’s prime motivation: self-preservation. While allowing more competition would be good for voters, it would be bad for politicians who up until this point have had an easy time of being re-elected. Currently, politicians are used to the typical two-step of running towards the party base during the primary, and then back to the center during the main election. A politician’s entire career is defined by this campaign logic, including raising money to prevent primary challengers, mastering the negative campaign tactics and vague election promises typical of WTA elections. Multimember elections and viable challenges from third parties would throw a wrench into the whole system, making a politician’s re-election that much more questionable. A currently-elected politician would need to be crazy to vote for such reforms—and so they do not. Fortunately, the initiative process in many states can counteract the self-interested nature of politicians, and allowing the electorate to vote on these beneficial reforms could allow these reforms to pass at the state level—with the hope that enough public pressure would mount nationwide to force politicians to vote for these reforms at the federal level. But, why will voters approve such measures when they already can hardly be bothered with going to the ballot box, and especially in the face of what would surely be a virulently negative campaign against the MMP reforms? Overcoming voter apathy, misinformation, and general lack of knowledge will be the most difficult part of implementing these reforms, but movements like the Tea Party have shown that the American electorate, even in the face of daunting challenges and startling inequities, can still mobilize for a cause. The most likely place for pressure to build 72

for reform “would be within disaffected or underrepresented factions of the existing parties,” as it is these factions which would gain most from these reforms.49 The Tea Party on the right and Progressives on the left, seeing their efforts to gain representation thwarted time and again, would be prime targets for teaching the virtues of PR systems generally, and MMP in particular. Hopefully, these groups would teach their constituents and mobilize them, prompting reform across the country. A final and pernicious obstacle to the implementation of MMP in the U.S. is institutional inertia. Unbeknownst to most people, the U.S. actually has a long history of PR voting, and “during the first half of the twentieth century, two dozen American cities used for a time” a form of proportional representation.50 Cities across the country, from West Hartford, CT to Boulder, CO, and back to the largest, New York, utilized this form of PR to great effect. As an example, “in the last pre-PR election in New York City, the Democrats won 95.3% of the seats on the Board of Alderman with only 66.5% of the vote,” but only five years after this PR system was implemented, it “gave the Democrats 65.5% of the seats on 64% of the vote,” while being beneficial for Republicans and three smaller parties.51 Minority candidates of all stripes were elected, wasted votes were significantly reduced, and additional parties found it easier to gain representation, although the record on increased voter turnout was mixed. Yet, these systems were eventually almost all repealed, coming under attack “from the politicians and parties who lost power and privileges.”52 Additionally, many people voted against the PR reforms simply because they were too successful at empowering certain groups of people. Critics of PR “often played upon two of the most basic fears of white, middle-class Americans: communists and African-Americans”—and were fantastically successful in this endeavor.53 Institutional inertia—the fear that something is too successful, too quickly—combined with the effective repeal campaigns of those freshly out of power, were the undoing of PR in the U.S., with the end result that only one city in the entire country still uses PR: Cambridge, MA. Institutional inertia of this sort will be difficult for pro-PR and pro-MMP reformers to combat, but national norms today are hopefully different and tolerant enough from those of the 1940s that MMP would not be repealed simply because it was effective.

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Conclusion If implemented, a MMP system could have immediate and significant positive effects on House elections in the United States. Liberated from the stifling WTA system with which we are so familiar, our political discourse would quickly become more inclusive, open, and sophisticated. Since MMP maintains the SMP structure for half of its legislators and a WTA form of electing them, it may at first seem as though it would not have a significant impact on the composition of the legislature. For these districts, taken independently, issues of binary politics, “representational ripoffs,” “manufactured majorities,” low voter turnout, limited third-party choices, and exclusion of women and minorities would all be impossible to ignore. However, each one of these factors is mitigated significantly by the presence of the other half of the legislature, which is elected on a proportional basis. By injecting proportionality into House elections, MMP would make Duverger’s Law irrelevant, since the House would no longer consist of members elected solely from single-member, WTA districts. However, the presence of geographically-elected members of the legislature should maintain some of the bond that constituents feel with their legislator, while preserving incentives for legislators to focus on local issues. MMP brings the best of both systems to American democracy, while limiting the deleterious effects that either system would have independently. The implementation of MMP could have a serious ameliorating effect on the most trenchant issues of American democracy. For instance, third parties in the U.S., which up to this point have had extremely limited success in national elections, could begin to flourish, giving voice to an otherwise frustrated and disempowered minority of voters. Along with thirdparty representation, the proportional aspects of MMP would mitigate the “representational ripoff” and “manufactured majority” aspect of our current system, by intuitively assigning each party the number of seats in the House which corresponds with the percentage of the national vote that it won. Therefore, 51% of the vote would not equal 100% of the representation, but would rather much more closely reflect the percentage of the vote won.54 In addition, since candidates can win with a much smaller portion of the electorate’s support, minority and female candidates will be much more likely to win elections and

gain meaningful representation in the legislature. Finally, as a result of these changes, citizens will hopefully become more engaged and willing to vote, increasing their participation and bolstering the health of American democracy. Implementing MMP would not be easy: voters would need to be informed and persuaded; politicians would have to go against their most basic instincts; and as the history of PR in the U.S. has shown, simply winning would not be enough—reformers would need to keep fighting for years after the initial reforms passed. However, in our broken electoral system, where many go unrepresented, where most views go without a voice in the halls of power, and where polarization and the gladiatorial aspects of WTA threaten to tear the country apart, such reforms could help reunite the country, bringing its policies closer to the will of the people and once again making the House of Representatives worthy of the title of “the People’s House.”55

Notes 1. For international comparisons, cf. Pippa Norris, “Choosing Electoral Systems: Proportional, Majoritarian, and Mixed Systems,” International Political Science Review 18 (1997): 307, 309-10, accessed September 21, 2010, doi:1601345. 2. Steven Hill, Fixing Elections: The Failure of America’s Winner Take All Politics (New York: Routledge, 2002), ix. 3. There are many problems with our current executive election paradigm that may be addressed by solutions outside the scope of this paper, such as instant runoff voting (IRV). For discussion on these topics, see Douglas Amy, Real Choices/New Voices: How Proportional Representation Elections Could Revitalize American Democracy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002). 4. Raymond Smith, Importing Democracy: Ideas from Around the World to Reform and Renew American Democracy (Westport: Praeger Publishers, 2010), 1. 5. For many districts, these lines are truly arbitrary. A few relatively insignificant changes could easily flip a safe Democratic district Republican, or vice versa. 6. Amy, Real Choices/New Voices, 6. 7. Hill, Fixing Elections, 45. Moreover, this trend is getting worse. There is today not a single Republican representative from New England,

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while many other states are ruby red. Ibid., 45. Ibid., xii. Ibid., 15. Amy, Real Choices/New Voices, 37. Ibid., 37. Ibid., 39. Norris, “Choosing Electoral Systems,” 299. These flaws, which are characteristic of WTA, are even more apparent in the electoral college, where the WTA character of each state’s election along with the dictum that all of a state’s electoral votes go to the winner of the contest (the socalled “unit rule”) produce enormous distortions in the outcome of presidential elections. 16. While gerrymandering is a significant problem, its actual effects are minimal in the context of WTA, which this paper argues leads inevitably to disenfranchisement and inadequate representation. Therefore, specific solutions to the problem of gerrymandering are outside the scope this paper. 17. Solutions such as cumulative voting have been implemented in some locales to increase the election of minority candidates. However, these solutions are imperfect—in part because they are versions of semiproportional representation—and thus can be improved by implementing a fully proportional system. For a discussion of such solutions, see Amy, Real Choices/New Voices, 219225. 18. Amy, Real Choices/New Voices, 109, 126. 19. With Hispanics, it is important to note that their proportion of the electorate is much smaller than their proportion of the total population due to the large number of non-citizen Hispanics and Hispanics who are here illegally. 20. Many attempts have been made to remedy this, most of which have centered around so-called “racial gerrymandering,” in which a district is redrawn so that a majority of the population in a given district belongs to a particular racial minority in order to ensure the election of a candidate of that minority. However, in addition to forcing the minority population to vote specifically on the grounds of race to get a minority candidate elected, as well as disenfranchising those in that district who are not members of that minority, in diverse locations (such as New York City) it is impossible to draw a district that is both large enough to obviate 14th Amendment challenges (requiring approximately 650,000 citizens in a district) and homogenous enough to ensure the dominance of a specific ethnic group. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.


21. While individual Tea Party-endorsed candidates have made headway, they have often done so by aligning themselves with the Republic Party rather than by forming their own party. Moreover, some Tea Party nominations have resulted in the election of candidates least-preferred by Tea Party supporters, as will be discussed below. 22. Smith, Importing Democracy, 8. Also, cf. Norris, “Choosing Electoral Systems,” 306-307. 23. This helps to explain some of the awkward coalitions that are found in U.S. political parties: environmentalists and labor unions are both represented by Democrats, and libertarians and social conservatives are both represented by Republicans, even though their interests are diametrically opposed. 24. This is a well-studied dilemma known as “sincere versus sophisticated voting” or “tactical voting.” 25. By “the least ideologically-preferred”, what is meant is that, on a political spectrum, the voters who voted for Nader or Scozzafava were closer ideologically to Gore or Hoffman, respectively, than to the eventual winners. Also, while it turned out that Hoffman, the third-party candidate, received more votes than Scozzafava, the Republican candidates, it was the presence of both candidates in the race that caused Owens to be elected. 26. “Dubious Democracy 2008,” FairVote, accessed September 17, 2010, dubious-democracy-2008. 27. Norris, “Choosing Electoral Systems,” 298. 28. Due to space constraints, I have limited the examination of fairness to mathematical notions of representation. However, WTA also contributes to a host of problems, including excessively negative campaigning, legislative policy unrepresentative of the will of the electorate, unnecessary obstructionism, increased pork-barrel politics, geographic polarization, and the placement of narrow and provincial interests above those of the country at large. For a more in-depth discussion of these issues, see Hill, Fixing Elections, ch. 12-15, and Amy, Real Choices/New Voices, ch. 7-8. 29. Hill, Fixing Elections, 43. 30. See Figure 1. 31. John Adams, “Thoughts on Government”, accessed on September 17, 2010, http://www. 32. Amy, Real Choices/New Voices, 169. 33. Ibid., 169-70. 34. This electoral threshold is a critical number, as setting it too low can lead to instability, while setting it too high can block out minor parties.

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Many successful PR systems set a threshold of around 5%; Italy and Israel, as two examples of failed PR systems, set their thresholds extremely low, at around 1%. 35. As long as the electoral threshold was set at or below 10%, the Independents would get a seat. If it was set higher, they would not get a seat—an important factor to keep in mind when discussing electoral thresholds. 36. Smith, Importing Democracy, 8. 37. For a discussion on district magnitude, cf. Amy, Real Choices/New Voices, 231-233. 38. While research has been done into the claim that single-member districts lead to representatives who are more likely to respond to individual grievances (known in the literature as “casework”), more research needs to be done in cross-country and cross-system casework provision. See Norris, Choosing Electoral Systems, 308. 39. One potential way to correct these flaws on the district side of the ballot would be to implement instant-runoff voting on this side of the ballot. Doing so would eliminate the so-called spoiler effect and would give a third-party candidate a chance of winning if he or she was the secondchoice of a significant portion of the electorate. It could, however, overly complicate an already complex voting procedure. See Amy, Real Choices, New Voices, 215-19. 40. Amy, Real Choices/New Voices, 20. While MMP would provide geographical representation, it would necessarily increase the baseline number of residents in a given district, unless the size of the legislature was also increased. 41. Ibid., 20. 42. Due to some mathematical quirks, this can sometimes require additional seats in the legislature, known as overhang seats. While the mathematical formula used to determine if, when, and how many overhang seats are created are quite complicated and unimportant for the average voter to understand, the function of such seats is to ensure that each party is given representation in accordance with its vote share. 43. Smith, Importing Democracy, 6. 44. U.S. Const. art. I, §3, cl. 1. 45. Smith, Importing Democracy, 7. Also, cf. Hill, Fixing Elections, 294. 46. Hill, Fixing Elections, 294. This law was passed to eliminate at-large elections, which were an even more repugnant form of “democracy technology” commonly used in the South to prevent AfricanAmericans from winning elections. 47. For states with one Representative, it is obvious

why this is the case. With two Representatives, even if one district with two members is created, each member would need to win 50% of the vote— introducing the same issues as WTA. 48. “Hastings Letter,” FairVote Program for Representative Government, last modified May 21, 2001, accessed September 17, 2010, http://www. 49. Smith, Importing Democracy, 9. 50. Amy, Real Choices/New Voices, 267. This form, known as the single transferable vote (STV, also known as instant runoff voting), allows voters to rank their choices on a ballot, preventing spoiler candidates, severely limiting wasted votes, and making third-party candidates viable alternatives. 51. Ibid., 269. 52. Ibid., 272. 53. Ibid., 273. 54. Districts with a higher district magnitude will be more exact in the proportional assignment of seats-to-votes. For more on this, cf. Amy, Real Choices, New Voices. 55. The author would sincerely like to thank the following people, without whom this paper would have been impossible: Rob Richie and the rest of the FairVote organization, for their dedication to ensuring fair representation for all and for taking me under their wing and teaching me about these issues; Professor Raymond Smith, for his helpful and informative comments on recommendations for improving this paper; and the Roosevelt Institute at Columbia, for giving me the opportunity to grow as a person, a writer, and an informed citizen over the past four years.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS Amreen Rahman is a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she will graduate in 2012 with a B.A. in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and a minor in Biomedical Research. An Editor of Roosevelt’s 10 Ideas for Health Care, Rahman is interested in a variety of issues, particularly those related to global public health. At UCLA, Rahman also serves as the Assistant Director of the Global Health Committee, the Policy Director of the Undergraduate Students Association Financial Supports Commission, and a research assistant for a health policy professor. Erika Solanki is a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she will graduate in 2012 with a B.A. in International Development Studies and a minor in Public Affairs. For the past two years, Solanki has served as Roosevelt’s Pacific Regional Coordinator, helping to organize multiple Roosevelt events and conferences. She has previously contributed pieces to Roosevelt publications on issues such as social entrepreneurship, international development, and the U.S. federal budget. Outside of Roosevelt, Solanki has been involved with Amnesty International for the past eight years. After graduation, Solanki hopes to enter law school, where she intends to specialize in international contract law.

Development and Its Contents Elevating Development as the Third Core Pillar in American Foreign Affairs AMREEN RAHMAN and ERIKA SOLANKI University of California, Los Angeles

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) functions, essentially, as the face of America throughout much of the world. In recent years, both the number of foreign aid programs and the funding needed to support them have increased dramatically. However, the incoherent organizational structure of American foreign aid programs—and USAID, in particular—has led to a fragmented, chaotic, and ultimately ineffective approach to developmental aid. The developmental aid system, therefore, is in urgent need of institutional reform. Under President George W. Bush’s administration, federal developmental assistance for foreign countries increased from $10 billion in 2000 to $22 billion in 2003. However, American foreign aid organizations lacked the structural and organizational capacity to allocate and utilize these resources effectively. Additionally, many aid packages are lined with earmarks, diverting money to political or military

purposes indirectly (if at all) related to the original objectives of the aid package. President Bush correctly elevated developmental aid as one of the three core pillars of national security policy, alongside defense and diplomacy. However, this vision has yet to be adequately realized. Institutional reform is critical to ensuring that every foreign assistance dollar is effectively utilized. This paper proposes the establishment of the Department of Development, a Cabinet-level department that will be responsible for the efficient distribution of foreign assistance. The Department of Development would oversee USAID, as well as other agencies that currently carry out developmental aid functions. This paper will also recommend a series of long-term strategies that will help the federal government reassert its vision of developmental aid as a core pillar of American foreign policy.

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History In the past few decades the autonomy and resources reserved for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have been rapidly diminishing. Both the Department of State and the Department of Defense (DoD), among other government agencies, have been given increasingly more responsibility for administering developmental aid programs or have even established their own independent organizational structures to implement foreign aid projects. The Department of State was given responsibility for overseeing aid programs in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 and in the former Soviet Union three years later. In 2001, the Department of State took complete control of USAID’s thendirect relationship with the Office of Management and Budget. This controversial semi-merger left the USAID more fragmented than ever and decreased its efficacy—USAID lost administrative, field, and technical staff, programmatic flexibility, and the ability to influence policies. Policymakers and agencies sought alternative instruments to implement development initiatives, further dismantling U.S. foreign aid cohesion. According to Ludwig Rudel, a 25-year-plus veteran of USAID, a significant amount of USAID money is used for political purposes, such as buttressing our policy in the Middle East with regards to Israel, Palestine, Egypt, and Jordan, or gaining leverage in drug wars in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia. In 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation was established to reduce poverty through sustainable economic development, and the Secretary of State, rather than a USAID administrator, was elected as chair. In 2006, USAID was absorbed completely into the Department of State. Currently USAID receives its funding through a State Department-controlled budget process and the USAID administrator serves as the Director of Foreign Assistance to the Department of State and head of USAID. This clearly increases political pressures and interest bias on U.S. foreign aid programs.1 According to Action Aid, the United States is one of the countries guilty of giving tied aid, or “phantom aid”: that is, aid given for purposes other than poverty reduction. According to a study conducted using 2004 global aid numbers, approximately $37 billion in global aid was “phantom aid”: including $6.9 billion 78

not targeted for poverty reduction at all, $5.7 billion double-counted as debt relief, $11.8 billion on expensive, ineffective technical assistance, $2.5 billion that went to political or commercial interests, $8.1 billion lost through poor donor coordination, $2.1 billion on immigration-related spending, and at least $40 million on excessive administration costs.2 These statistics highlight the urgency of not only the United States to reform its foreign aid assistance programs, but for all developed nations to reevaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of their national foreign development programs.

Analysis The Current State of USAID In order to reform U.S. foreign assistance, it is vital to analyze the present bureaucratic structure of aid agencies and aid delivery. Currently, USAID is the de facto development agency arm of the United States. While there are a number of problems with the structure of USAID and its integration into the Department of State, USAID controls a larger proportion of foreign assistance than any other federal agency. In 2005, USAID was allocated 53% of the U.S. foreign aid budget, while the DoD distributed 24% of the budget (primarily towards Iraq and Afghanistan). The rest of the budget was allocated and distributed by various independent governmental agencies.3 The United States delivers aid through over fifty agencies and departments, each of which is tied to a different realm of foreign aid (e.g., global health, disaster relief, infrastructure, etc.) which is in turn tied to key pieces of legislation. These intertwined linkages of departments, legislation, and categories of aid create a fragmented and disorganized structure.4 This decentralized structure contributes to overlaps between numerous agencies when aid is distributed to meet certain needs. Because of these overlaps, the lack of central command and hierarchy decreases the ability of these agencies to share best practices, to create efficient cross-linkages, and to communicate and collaborate effectively.5 President George W. Bush established the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a notable agency that administers large amounts of aid outside of the structure of USAID. PEPFAR started with a commitment of $15 billion, mainly for antiret-

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rovirals to certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This commitment has grown to over $48 billion through to 2013 and now encompasses prevention strategies for numerous countries.6 Furthermore, the U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 established PEPFAR under the authority of the Department of State Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, who reports directly to the Secretary of State.7 Another key development aid agency outside the scope of USAID is the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). The MCC is an independent U.S. governmental corporation dedicated to fighting poverty, employing specific accountability practices, and case-by-case country strategies. The MCC and PEPFAR are only two of over fifty agencies which administer foreign aid to areas that often overlap with focus and geographic bureaus under USAID (Bureau of Global Health, Bureau for Africa, etc.). A Senate report on the state of U.S. foreign aid found that the MCC employed programs created by USAID, creating tensions between USAID and the MCC.8 Furthermore, the MCC and USAID have not consistently and effectively coordinated division of programs in specific countries. The exorbitant number of agencies working towards interrelated and at times identical development goals not only creates a chaotic system of delivery for official development assistance in the same region or even country, it also increases inter-agency tensions, due to an unclear chain of command, thus creating an atmosphere counterproductive to collaboration. In an attempt to integrate the various modalities for distributing aid, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice further amalgamated the already close relationship between the Department of State and USAID. Rice created the Bureau of Foreign Assistance as a means to promote collaboration and communication between these various agencies. However, the powers granted to the Director of Foreign Assistance (DFA) were limited solely to providing guidance and advice to the remaining agencies that remained outside the DFA’s control. In certain situations, the DFA was discouraged from consulting specific de-

partments and agencies like the Global AIDS Office. Another important field of foreign aid that USAID can simply consult is the Treasury Department of Technical Assistance and the Treasury Department of Debt Relief, both of which have jurisdiction over the United States’ involvement with the World Bank. The distinctions between USAID and other aid agencies which engage in similar if not identical development aid functions are impractical and create a chaotic model for foreign aid when considering the numerous areas of overlap between USAID, PEPFAR, the MCC, the World Bank, and other foreign aid agencies.9 Integration of USAID into the Department of State created a dual position of the DFA-USAID Administrator. This dual position only added to the growing complexity and bureaucracy as a report to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations indicated that the DFA has spent too much time and effort coordinating a process that effectively integrated USAID programs into the F process (strategies unique to the DFA).10 Politicized Aid United States foreign aid initiatives have always been influenced by outside political goals from the implementation of the Marshall Plan to the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule. Although the politicization of aid may seem inevitable at times, the separation of USAID and the Department of State allowed USAID to maintain a degree of sovereignty and autonomy. This independence allowed USAID to administer aid away from the pressing short term security goals often emphasized by the Department of State. The complete integration of USAID into the Department of State introduced the risk of politicized aid. Since the integration, the focus of aid has switched from long term development to short term transition oriented focus goals in unstable countries. USAID has increasingly shifted from sustainable development and poverty alleviating initiatives (e.g., clean water, stable infrastructure, etc.) to emergency focused temporary aid to high press issues. An example of this politicization of aid is in re-

In 2004, approximately $37 billion in global aid was “phantom aid,” or aid given for purposes other than poverty reduction.

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gard to tied or conditional aid. Rather than dispersing aid on a need based hierarchy, USAID allocates its aid strategically in order to influence foreign affairs. Countries are now faced with the decision of compromising sovereignty in order to receive money that can be used to spur economic growth within their borders. One such example is the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). In order to qualify for the AGOA, countries cannot make any decisions that would go against the United States’ interests. Eritrea and Central African Republic failed to reach these requirements and have lost foreign aid money as a result.11 Since USAID officially became a subset of the Department of State, aid has become a bargaining chip in order for the United States to reach its national security goals. In 1990, after the end of its civil war, Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, was faced with the decision of whether to allow the United States to invade Iraq as it was serving its term on the Security Council. When Yemen voted against the U.S.’s interests, the U.S. made sure it was a costly decision as it cut its entire aid budget of $70 million.12 Conditions placed by USAID on aid have prioritized the profit margins of U.S.-based companies instead of the affordability and efficacy of foreign aid programs. For example, to combat HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, USAID requires governments to purchase medications from U.S. pharmaceutical companies, which are four times more expensive than generic medications produced by South African pharmaceuticals.13 USAID also requires that 80 cents of each dollar spent on foreign projects be returned back to the United States.14 Since USAID requires recipient countries to buy U.S. products, the feedback is cut off from backward linkages, or the relationship a sector has with another sector that it purchases inputs from. For example, if a recipient country buys steel to build a building, the steel industry in America benefits rather than the steel industry within the recipient country. Therefore, USAID is potentially detrimental to a country’s economic growth since projects that would normally utilize a domestically produced product, might be forced to purchase U.S. products.

Staff Reductions USAID’s original development strategies were once epitomized by its efficient and innovative fieldwork operations. In recent years, the quality and quantity of fieldwork has decreased drastically; both unfortunate trends are attributable to the severe staff cuts that have taken place over the past decade. The number of direct USAID employees dwindled from 4,058 to 2,200 since 1980.15 USAID’s budget cuts stand in stark contrast to the bulging budgets of other aid agencies like PEPFAR, the MCC, and the DoD, all of which have experienced exponential increases in staff and budgetary allocation. As the USAID budget becomes a smaller proportion of the official development assistance allocations, the Department of Defense budget inversely increases. A Senate study reported that currently the DoD foreign aid to Honduras now matches the USAID program budget in the country as well.16 The reduction of field staff and technical staff has fundamentally changed the way USAID functions as it no longer has the technical capabilities in order to fully carry out the scale of fieldwork programs it once had in 1990s.17

Developmental aid is integral to both the stabilization of other countries and the stabilization of our relationships with those countries.


Private Contractors As a result of downsizing technical staff and budget cuts, USAID has tapped subcontractors to fill in the gaps in terms of fieldwork. Thus, USAID employees have only a limited presence on the ground and primarily function instead as managers of contracts and delegators of subcontractors. USAID’s disorganized structure contributes to the fact that contractors that are neither efficient nor reliable still retain their USAID contracts in spite of failures in the field. One example showcasing the complacency of USAID toward the ineptitude of subcontractors is Chemonics International, a private firm that won a $153 million contract for agricultural development in Afghanistan. Despite Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports criticizing Chemonics’ inability to fundamentally incorporate its work in agriculture development into local markets, Chemonics won an-

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other $102 million contract from USAID.18 Many of these contractors that win big contracts from USAID in turn subcontract other work to smaller firms and these smaller firms can subcontract further downstream as well. This creates a web of contractors and subcontractors making USAID fieldwork not only inefficient but largely unaccountable as oversight over numerous independent contractors (not all of which are directly accountable to USAID) is a nearly impossible for an understaffed USAID. USAID is not the only foreign aid organization with problems overseeing contractors. The DoD has in recent years faced incredible scrutiny and controversy over its hiring and lack of oversight of private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan which do not follow the traditional military model for chain of command. Subsequently, many of these contractors (e.g., Blackwater, Halliburton) have been accused of human rights violations and general disregard for military rules and regulations. While the lack of accountability and jurisdiction of private military contractors has been brought to light in the last few years and steps are being taken to reform their untouchable status, the same cannot be said for USAID subcontractors. 19

Establishing the Department of Development When former President Bush established development as a pillar of the United States’ national security strategy, the U.S. took a critical step in recognizing a fundamentally vital component of national security issues.20 The theory that that abject poverty and poor governance breeds unstable leaders that tend to make irrational decisions is neither counterintuitive nor has it been empirically disproven. What is counter intuitive is the isolation of development from the United States’ national security. Development is the key foundation to truly creating and maintaining stable countries and corresponding diplomatic relations. Although Bush had elevated development as a pillar in national security with defense and diplomacy, the integration of USAID with the Department of State had in turn decreased the role of development in decision making processes concerning national security and foreign aid issues at large. In fact, when the corresponding “F process” was established with the merging of the USAID under the Department of State “poverty” was not even ref-

erenced.21 USAID under the Department of State focuses mainly on the functions and capabilities that are available from the Department of State itself. This severely limits functionality as USAID cannot coordinate with other agencies or branches of government.22 Furthermore, while USAID has experience in poverty reduction strategies, they are not able to implement these strategies fully as long term goals are obstructed by the short term temporary fixes that the Department of State tends to focus on. Thus USAID’s objectives have not been fully implemented as the missions that the Department of State emphasize are primarily targeted to countries with fluctuating diplomatic relations that are relevant to immediate security needs as opposed to prioritizing support to develop basic infrastructure like health and clean water in developing nations. Elevating development to the level of defense and diplomacy cannot be achieved merely by a name change or declaration, as was done in 2002 under Bush, it must be implemented in practice and must be reflected in the structure that the United States uses for foreign aid delivery.23 The Secretary of Development As previously discussed the merger of USAID into the structure of the Department of State hindered the ability of the United States to adequately carry out foreign aid in an efficient and productive manner due to growing bureaucracy and politicized aid. In order to reform this situation an autonomous and independent Department of Development ought to be established in order to elevate development to the level of defense and diplomacy. This department would encompass the current structure of USAID as well as other agencies that currently carry out development level function or deliver foreign aid.24 The Secretary of Development would be a senior cabinet-level member and present as a part of the President’s national security team. The presence of the Secretary of Development will ensure that the United States makes decisions related to defense and diplomacy with pertinent development effects in mind. Adding a voice for development in major strategic operations is particularly crucial as recent conflicts that the U.S. has been involved in show that development and poverty are the foundations for the stability of a country.

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The Secretary of Development position is also important because it establishes a prominent go-to person in matters of development. Currently, there are numerous individuals who head fragmented agencies all partaking in development activities. Consolidating these agencies and appointing one individual as the Secretary of Development creates a clear chain of command that will help with not only efficiency of operations but will help public perception as the Secretary of Development will be representative of the development goals of the United States. The new Secretary of Development will be represented in the cabinet. The process for choosing the Secretary will be normal means via presidential appointment and confirmation by the Senate.25 Establishing an independent department is a drastic move but in order to fully and completely recognize and elevate development as a fundamental part of the United States’ nation strategy it is an imperative action. Consolidation of Agencies There have been previous instances in U.S. history where new departments have been creates, consolidated, or separated. The most recent one entails the creation of the Department of Homeland Security which by in large has been deemed to an uneasy and complicated transition. However, the DHS example which many opponents reference as a reason against creating a new Department of Development is not a comparable situation. The creation of the DHS consolidated a huge number of agencies with various functions and modalities.26 The Department of Development on the other hand would consolidate agencies that are already heavily involved in foreign aid and development issues. There are two counterexamples in recent history that show that the creation of the Department of Development will anticipatedly be a successful transition. One example includes the United States Trade Representative’s Office which was elevated to the cabinet level which brought the importance of trade to the executive decision making level.27 Another example includes the division of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare into two separate departments: the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.28 This example can be applied to the creation of a new Department of Development as the creation 82

of a new Department would essentially entail a division of the Department of State and USAID. Although politically expensive, the creation of new Department based on the rational of elevating the purpose and mission of the Department is not unheard of. Currently foreign aid is delivered in a bureaucratic, inefficient, and fragmented fashion due to the large number of agencies and integration of USAID within the Department of State. In order to streamline this process, the newly created Department of Development would create a structure that allows for agencies that have worked independently and autonomously before (MCC, PEPFAR) to retain some degree of independence while remaining a part of the umbrella of the Department and Development and accountable to the Secretary of Development. In order to consolidate all other agencies and USAID a system of functional and regional bureaus ought to be established in order to create a clear chain of command. Under each functional bureau there ought to be correlative regional bureaus in order to specifically tailor foreign aid programs and prospective development projects. The importance of the functional bureaus would derive from the fact that it would allow the new Department of Development to clearly create distinctions in its focal points of development. Potential functional bureaus ought to include infrastructure and capacity building, global health, and similar focus areas. The next level of command would be the regional bureaus.29 The regions would be defined by Department of Defense standards.30 Coordinating with the Department of Defense does not decrease the importance of development as the Department of Development still maintains its autonomous voice, instead in increases efficacy of cross collaboration as the DoD still controls a large part of the foreign aid budget. Therefore this structure promotes interagency collaboration. The regional bureaus would be staffed by members who would be cross trained in different functional bureaus and rotated in order to increase inter-bureau collaboration. They would however remain under the same region in their positions as to increase specific region based knowledge. This rotation would allow for multidisciplinary strategies and for best practices to be shared among bureaus.31 Further downstream in this chain of command will be the general agency staff consisting of field workers and other technical professionals who are held accounta-

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ble to their regional bureau and correlating functional ment goals. The newly formed Department of Develbureau. opment would coordinate with Congress and specifically the Office of Management and Budget on issues Budget Allocation pertaining to the budget.33 Thus not only does this give DDev autonomy of its budget it allows Congress Allocation of foreign aid and official develop- to get involved and engaged in the development proment assistance is spread over numerous different cess. The formation of the F process and the Director agencies and organization operating under different Foreign Assistance did not engage Congress at all; inbudgets. These agencies often have parallel goals, volving Congress in the budgeting of the new Departbut due to fragmentation coordination is lost as well ment will help spread the importance of development as efficiency and sharing of best practices. The for- to the legislative branch.34 mation of the Department of Development (DDev) would solve the problem of fragmentation as it would Strategies, Best Practices, and Monitoring and consolidate official development assistance giving Evaluation agencies under its umbrella but still within the bureau structure. Prominent programs and agencies that In order to create a coherent strategy that would automatically be incorporated into DDev are can be translated into a well balanced budget, there PEPFAR and the MCC. ought to be country by country strategies for reachOther agencies would be identified through ing specific development goals. This task would fall a case by case sweep of all the agencies that are al- under the regional bureaus which would have to collocated ODA. InterAction proposes that programs in laborate cross functional bureaus in order to establish Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refu- a stance of the U.S. in that specific country in terms gees and Migration, Department of Agriculture, and of development. This would entail in depth analysis Depart­ments of Commerce and Labor which are re- of the country from numerous perspectives which is lated to development and foreign assistance ought to facilitated by the fact that each regional bureau corbe consolidated into DDev. Other interspersed agen- relates to a specialized functional bureau. This analcies will be identified through a review of the ODA ysis would entail examination of each country’s curbudget and agencies in the government that have rent developmental situation, stability, governance. foreign assistance functions. Furthermore, as the De- It would also include the roles and progress of other partment of Defense has traditionally maintained the multilateral or independent actors in the country as role of providing humanitarian relief, that function will well as what key areas need to be emphasized or priremain within the DoD. However, programs relating to oritized (health, infectious diseases, education, infradevelopment that do not pertain to providing person- structure, etc.). nel for humanitarian relief will be incorporated into Collaboration across bureau lines would prothe Department of Development.32 mote cohesion and collaboration especially on budgCurrently the foreign aid budget consists of etary matters. While currently decisions on budgets allocations not only to USAID but to a variety of other are made under the umbrella of the Department of independent and fragmented agencies. The consoli- State and subject to short term “band aid” solution dation of these development delivering agencies into focused programs, granting the Department of Develthe Department of opment autonomy Development would on its budget based entail a fundamental on strategic decirestructuring of how sion making prodevelopment aid is motes an efficient allocated. Currently, and targeted stratUSAID’s budget is egy for long term under the scrutiny of development goals. the Department of In order to develop State. Under an independent DDev no such oversight encompassing strategies the DDev can still consult would take place, allowing prioritization of develop- the Department of State or other third party actors

The theory that abject poverty and poor governance breeds instability is neither counterintuitive nor has it been empirically disproven.

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The Department of Development would directly address the problem of bureaucratic fragmentation.

like the World Bank and the IMF. In addition to country-specific strategies, specific achievable and realistic development goals ought to be established as well per region. These goals will be addressed later on as they are crucial to monitoring and evaluation of the efficacy of aid. Since currently USAID’s budget is not indicative of the total amount spent on foreign and official development assistance, the new budget of DDev would entail the budgets of all the consolidated agencies and at least in the entail years of transition some money ought to be allocated to training as well as logistical costs.35 The creation of the Department of Development creates a situation where it is imperative to track and monitor the efficacy of foreign aid. The consolidation of various aid giving agencies under one umbrella organization creates an environment conducive to oversight and monitoring and evaluation functions. Within the new structure of the DDev there ought to be a branch, independent from individual who set development goals in the first place, carefully monitoring and evaluating programs under the department. These evaluations would help spread best practices and would help determine proper budget allocation.36 This branch would facilitate the sharing of best practices through DDev as well as determining best practices by other multilateral and independent private agents.37 The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) was established in 1997 as an independent agency responsible for all foreign aid allocation. This transition from a fragmented aid allocation process to DFID elevated the efficacy of UK aid. In an analysis of 27 countries, DFID raked in high levels across the board. There are best practices from the DFID model that the U.S. ought to incorporate. However, the DFID model as is functioning in the UK cannot be directly transplanted into the U.S. because of different structures of governance. The DFID system is centered on the concept of reducing poverty. This strategy decreases the tendency of aid to be politicized or tied to political gains. Furthermore, DFID does not simply deal with development aid; it promotes development strategy by promoting development issues in other sectors such as diplomacy, agriculture, etc. 84

Another best practice that should be implemented involves DFID’s collaboration with other agencies within the UK government as well as NGOs and other multilateral organizations. The ability of DFID to cross collaborate with other organizations allows them to achieve the most efficient strategy for aid allocation and development mechanisms. Another key practice of DFID is their collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which allows them to bypass recipient governments. Finally, DFID has specific budget allocation distinctions that allow them to bypass outside political influences. DFID has control over its budget which encompasses all development aid which gives them exclusive control and authority of development.38 Some suggestions have been made to completely integrate USAID into the Department of State structure. However, a complete integration would only exacerbate the current problems that USAID faces now as only partially integrated within the Department of State structure and jurisdiction. The Department of State, although it does look at long term strategy, is more focused on short term goals and objectives. This short timeframe is not compatible with USAID’s long term development goals. Complete integration within the Department of State will politicize aid as it will effectively become a bargaining chip based on diplomatic objectives. This strategy is antithetical to the goals of development. Furthermore, Department of State personnel are trained in a different manner from USAID personnel. USAID already has weakened technical capacities; further integration would only decrease the technical expertise of USAID as it would lose its goal of fieldwork and projects abroad.

Long-Term Development Strategies In response to intense criticisms from researchers, scholars, and fieldworkers alike, the Department of State and USAID have been working to improve its development strategies. In May 2007, the Department of State and USAID released a strategic plan for the 2007-2012 fiscal years, outlining specific U.S. foreign policy and development strategies. The Strategic Report promotes the notion of “transformational diplomacy,” a term coined by former Secretary

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of State Condoleezza Rice. “Transformational diplomacy” involves intertwining our security interests and democratic ideals with development aid. The report anchors American diplomacy and foreign assistance on three fundamental beliefs: (1) ensuring the freedom of others best protects our own freedom; (2) securing the rights of all globally best ensures our security; and (3) improving others prosperity will maintain our prosperity. In an effort to establish a solid foundation for future diplomatic relations and development aid strategies, both departments adopted six core values, a mission statement, and seven strategic goals for the United States. Core values for American diplomacy and foreign assistance include service, loyalty, character, accountability, community and diversity. In order to uphold these values, the departments unified under the encompassing mission statement to: “advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibility within the international system.”39 The seven strategic diplomacy and development goals were designed to promote these core values and mission statement.

Strategic Goal 2: Governing Justly and Democratically Implementing just and democratic governance is critical to U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance as it is a cornerstone of American principles. The strategic principles include promoting human rights and human dignity, encouraging political competition and consensus building, and engaging civil society. Several key external factors have yet to be addressed, including unpredictable changes in governance and structures, including coups and impromptu elections, natural disasters, terrorism, and the desire and ability of civil society to effectively pressure leaders to reform institutions. Strategic Goal 3: Investing in People

This strategy focuses on providing basic needs for humanity, such as ensuring good health, improving access to education, providing social services, and protecting vulnerable populations from hunger, disease, and crime. By investing in people, nations will experience sustainable improvements in the health and productivity of their populations. In turn, it will improve the ability of these people to participate in democratic decision-making and contribute to economic growth. In achieving this goal, officials are faced Strategic Goal 1: Achieving Peace and Security with the issues of exposure to new diseases, cultural practices and misinformation perpetuating confusion In order to achieve peace and security, U.S. about disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, departments will confront threats to national and in- high prices of pharmaceuticals, lack of government ternational security as well as strengthen the capacity sponsored awareness programs, and availability of of governments to prevent, mitigate and assess con- basic healthcare services and personnel. flicts and volatile stability. The priorities within this strategy include addressing counterterrorism, weap- Strategic Goal 4: Promoting Economic Growth and ons of mass destruction and destabilizing conven- Prosperity tional weapons, increasing security cooperation and security sector reform, reforming conflict prevention, The United States touts the world’s largest mitigation, and responses, combating transnational economy, thus its economic vitality is dependent upon crime, and improving homeland security. A significant a stable, resilient and expanding global economy for number of external key factors will hinder the fruition trade. Thus, development policies should strengthof this goal, and the Department of State and USAID en private markets, increase trade and investment, have yet to address these factors. These factors in- enhance energy security, and promote agricultural clude instability within regions, institutionalized or growth. Development officials plan to promote these widespread corruption, anti-American sentiment, vio- ideas by targeting women, negotiating debt relief, inlent non-state actors, ethnic or religious tensions, in- tegrating developing nations into international maradequate or non-existent sovereignty, inadequate or kets, coordinating with the global community, and non-existent law enforcement institutions and frame- pursuing ambitious agendas to increase access to works, and allies and security issues, to name a few. markets, trade, and investment. Several factors have THE RO OSEVE LT R EVIEW • Roosevelt In st it ute Campu s Network • Vo lume 4 • I ssue 1 • 20 1 0


the potential to prevent the full implementation of these policies including stringent economic and environmental policies and major natural or human disasters.

tions are cost-effective, efficient, and appropriate. The strategic priorities include visa services, passport service, American citizenship services, information technology, facilities, planning, accountability, and overall administrative service. Fortunately, no external Strategic Goal 5: Providing Humanitarian Assistance factors will greatly hinder these efforts, although internal objections and lack of cooperation can greatly Humanitarian assistance is critical when a stall efforts.40 country is affected by a natural disaster, conflict or major human rights abuses. Providing humanitarian Recommended Development Strategies assistance in times of crises exemplifies American compassion, as humanitarian assistance alleviates As discussed earlier, there are two major issuffering, minimizes economic costs of conflicts and sues with present development strategies: (1) the disasters, and forges paths towards recovery, growth, strategic goals emphasize politicized aid, top-down and stability for countries. Specific strategic priorities development policies, and lack clear specific steps include providing protection, assistance and solu- that should be taken to enforce the goals; and (2) the tions, preventing and mitigating disasters, and pro- majority of current development efforts are far from moting orderly and humane means for migration man- contributing to the accomplishment of these goals as agement. Potential implementation issues include sweeping development reform as yet to take place. lack of local government cooperation during international relief efforts, violent or hostile reactions against A. Provide Disaster Risk Reduction humanitarian workers, inefficient and overlapping efforts by international organizations and government Beginning in the 1970s, fieldworkers and techaid, and the level of hazard and vulnerability of coun- nical professionals began to address the varying imtries to disasters and conflict. pacts disasters have on physical structures such as school buildings and healthcare clinics. Disasters were Strategic Goal 6: Promoting International largely characterized by the physical impact they imUnderstanding posed, rather than the natural hazard itself. In an effort to implement prevention measures and mitigate In order to successfully achieve American for- losses, engineers, architects and other professionals eign policy and development objectives, the U.S. de- began designing physical and structural measures partments must disseminate information about Amer- to reduce hazards and increase structure resilience. ican values and history in order to promote a positive While developed countries adopted disaster prevenpublic perception. By promoting a positive image of tion and mitigation frameworks immediately, many American values and emphasizing common interests developing countries are unable to maximize risk reand values, the Department of State and USAID will duction due to the high cost of physical mitigation foster a productive relationship between the U.S. measures. and other countries. Typical external factors that may In addition to physical measures, researchers hinder these efforts include regional instability, Anti- assessing natural hazards determine a population’s American sentiment, cultural and social receptivity to level of risk and vulnerability based on the capacity of American messages, and security concerns, to name the people to absorb the impact of the disaster and a few. recover from loss or damage most cost-effectively. Previously the primary focus of disaster response adStrategic Goal 7: Strengthening Consular and dressed social and economic vulnerability, whereas Management Capabilities now there is an increasing focus on the varying impacts natural hazards have on different social groups This strategic effort focuses on combining and on different regions. Department of State and USAID management and A shift occurred in the manner in which natural organizational framework through the State/USAID disasters are addressed from the incident itself to the Joint Management Council, when such consolida- development processes that generate varying levels 86

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of vulnerability among populations. Recently, vulnerability reduction has emerged as a key and integral component of reducing disaster impact and integrating sustainable development strategies, since it has become evident that development processes contribute to vulnerability patterns, as development decisions ultimately shape and amplify patterns of hazard and risk exposure. All development activities possess the potential to increase or reduce risks, thus it is critical to consider disaster risk reduction, assessment and management strategies when determining development processes. According to “Reducing Disaster Risk: A Challenge for Development,” a report created by the United Nation’s Development Programme’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, five interdependent and interconnected strategies should be adopted unanimously:41 1. Adequate governance institutions and frameworks should be developed for risk management in order to implement, monitor and enforce the policies outlined in the ISDR/UNDP Framework to Guide and Monitor Disaster Risk Reduction. 2. Quantitative and qualitative disaster risk assessment should be mainstreamed into development planning, as active assessment will result in the implementation of more sustainable development processes. 3. Climate risk management should be integrated to further build upon an already existing disaster risk capacity. 4. Developing countries, in particular, should be strongly encouraged to incorporate disaster and hazard reduction strategies in their national Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of development processes, since natural hazard vulnerability is often associated with other hazards as well. 5. Development processes that increase disaster risk are already in place and in many instances, impossible to replace within a reasonable timeframe, thus risk management organizations and government agencies should collaborate and share disaster risk management tools, exchange best practices and pioneer innovative preparedness and response strategies.

Integrating disaster risk reduction, assessment and management is critical in attaining development goals. According to the diagram released by the UN Millennium Project42, a lack of disaster risk reduction incorporate will foster instable development. B. Place an Emphasis on Needs-Driven Aid Foreign aid first emerged as an effort by developed countries to provide developing countries with the monetary support and administrative ability to effectively and immediately combat widespread poverty. Instead of providing funding solely for poverty reduction, current development efforts span a wide array of categories related to economic and social development, including debt relief, subsidies on exports to developing countries, food aid, administrative costs, support for refugee care, grants to NGOs, post-disaster and post-conflict relief, and technical operations, to name a few. As previously discussed, many reports have criticized American aid efforts for being too politicized, fragmented, and inefficient. The current aid system is based on the principle of “transformational diplomacy,” an approach which intertwines the State Department’s diplomatic interests with development needs. A focus on needs-driven aid allocations would allow recipient countries to receive less restrictive funding, encouraging countries to implement longterm sustainable development programs unique to their country’s social and economic structure. Restricted aid tends to prioritize short-term results over long-term needs. Assistance should be allocated specifically to address each country’s situation, internally as solid frameworks and foundations should be secured, and externally as an actor in world politics and the global economy. The level of aid in terms of quantity and the versatility of aid in terms of restrictions, or lack thereof, should be assessed individually for each country, depending on the recipient country’s ability to design and implement transparent, credible development strategies. United Kingdom’s DFID exemplifies needsdriven aid, as the primary DFID development strategy is to focus on poverty prevention and reduction.43 In the case of HIV/AIDS or the malaria epidemic, the problem is rooted in poverty and in turn exacerbated by poverty as well. Essentially, members of poorer communities tend to suffer a multitude of ripple effects from destitution that include lower education

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levels, inaccessible health care, unmonitored sanitation, and low levels of labor productivity to absorb the shock of sudden deaths. It is critical for development strategies to allocate resources efficiently by addressing specific needs and tailoring development mechanisms to maximize regional results.

grams and Department of State programs. However, in order to avoid convoluted bureaucratic delays, it would be most efficient and beneficial to the progress of instituting development ideals to fully separate development efforts under the Department of Development. It is critical to note that while the Department C. Prioritize Long-Term Aid Over Short-Term Aid of Development should focus on long-term development strategies, particularly to combat poverty, the Several field workers and technical experts department should not hesitate to continue providing have pinpointed a major flaw in American develop- humanitarian assistance. The Department of Develment strategy—the emphasis on short-term, immedi- opment should balance the short-term humanitarian ate results-driven assistance objectives, which detract assistance allocated to crisis prone countries and the from instituting and achieving sustainable and effec- long-term development assistance provided to stable tive long-term development programs. The greatest developing countries. barrier in promoting long-term development processes is garnering adequate support from elected D. Enhance Resources for Civilian Agencies and Field officials. Work First, elected officials tend to support sweeping, short-term and immediate results oriented aid in As an independent agency from the Departorder to boast results before the next election season. ment of State, the Department of Development will American Presidents are notorious for development gain full control over an adequate budget to create related executive orders which disproportionately the necessary administrative frameworks to execute provide aid to highly publicized and immediate results and implement sustainable development initiatives. driven issues such as HIV/AIDS awareness, protection, Currently civilian aid agencies lack sufficient funding and relief efforts. Instead Presidents should focus on and staff to maximize development capacity. the root problem causing these negative, highly publiSeveral studies completed by researchers cized ripple effects. In most regions this root problem from Oxfam International and the Organization for is abject poverty. Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) Second, elected officials are hesitant to ad- insist that the United States must increase resources vocate for long-term strategies as the Department for civilian agencies involved in development projects. of State heavily utilizes aid as leverage to favor na- Recent scholars have also criticized USAID’s decline tional security and foreign policy objectives. The in quality of personnel, expertise, and capabilities as Department of State utilizes narrow, short-term and more and more American programs rely on exorbitant immediate results orioutsourcing to priented methods to acvate contractors. complish diplomacy Investing and defense objecdirectly in field detives, overpowering velopment and rethe ability of U.S. aid sources is a critical programs to institute component to facililong-lasting developtating development ment processes. objectives successFor example, the Department of State pro- fully and efficiently. The newly formed Department motes HIV/AIDS programs abroad due to the highly of Development must focus on reforming programs publicized nature of the issue and the ability to easily and projects on the field by improving development measure results. While such programs are effective, capacity and capability through increased funding for resources and time is detracted from more sustain- staff, training, resources, management, monitoring, able efforts. Several researchers have recommended and evaluations. if it is to execute and implement susseparating the budget between development pro- tainable development initiatives.

Needs-driven aid would allow recipient countries to implement sustainable development programs unique to their particular needs.


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E. Improve Feedback from the Field Effective development programs are sustained by consistent constructive criticism and prompt reforms. Thus, collecting feedback from the field from both staff and civil society is a critical component in maintaining effective development programs. In addition to feedback, the Department of Development should also build a more stable and durable bridge between Washington and the field. The interaction between policymakers on Capitol Hill and civilian agencies is sparse and inadequate. Finally, the Department of Development should create a consistent and systematic structure to facilitate routine engagement between American officials and foreign development actors in the field, as well as relevant civil society groups, including community groups, other international agencies, local government agencies, and NGOs. Receiving adequate and consistent feedback will assist the Department of Development in cost effective resource allocation as well as program management and evaluation. F. Reduce Recipient Country Burdens While dozens of countries provide aid to developing countries, recipient countries are commonly at a crossroads because donors impose conflicting eligibility requirements on funding. In addition to dealing with politicized and tied aid, recipient countries are commonly under pressure to meet the administrative and infrastructural needs to properly executive development programs designed by foreign assistance actors. In order to reduce the burdens on recipient countries, the United States should actively participate in more multilateral assistance partnerships to reduce the number of donors and consolidate development programs to utilize existing infrastructures and systems for development. While multilateral institutions will detract partial credit from the United States, due to its dominating nature, the U.S. will largely shape and determine the actions and objectives of multilateral institutions. Simultaneously the U.S. will build development networks, pool together funds, increase international participation, and overall reduce the burden on recipient countries by consolidating aid requirements, reducing unnecessary infrastructure investments, and utilizing systems and capacities already in place to executive multilateral development initiatives.

Conclusion Numerous analysts have suggested that major aspects of developmental aid reform in the U.S. should be modeled after DFID. Since the creation of DFID in 1997, the British agency has led the world in international development strategy and implementation. DFID’s efficiency is rooted in its ability to manage multiple programs working to achieve similar goals in a desired region. Two major aspects of DFID’s development strategy are: (1) the pooling of funds to reduce financial burdens on recipient countries and (2) the allocation of funds based on need. USAID differs markedly in that the Department of State leverages aid to benefit national security and foreign policy interests, which is a root cause of U.S. developmental aid inefficiency.44 Granting the newly formed Department of Development an independent budget from the Department of Defense will allow the development agency to pursue programs and initiatives dedicated solely to development ideals. Instead of targeting a narrow band of short-term and highly visible issues, development programs can focus on implementing lasting and sustainable development strategies. The United States is notorious for allocating nearly 50% of its total aid as tied aid, whereas DFID eliminated tied aid allocations completely in 2002. As demonstrated by multiple studies, aid effectiveness is exponentially improved when it is not tied, since aid restrictions prevent recipient countries from instituting individualized solutions to their specific social and economic problems.45 At the moment, Congress influences development initiatives primarily by controlling the purse strings. Development initiatives pursued by the U.S. government shape foreign perceptions of American values. Diplomacy and foreign assistance are critical in shaping America’s reputation globally. Therefore, Congress should have a more active role in formulating development policies. Congress should play a prominent role in growing the Department of Development in terms of its administrative framework, strategic goals, and overall objectives. In establishing the Department of Development, Congress should draft the legislative foundation for the new cabinet department and respective leadership positions, as well as design an action plan for instituting cost-effective and sustainable development programs around the world.

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Notes 1. Curt Tarnoff and Larry Nowels, “Foreign Aid: An Introductory Overview of U.S. Programs and Policy,” Congressional Research Service, April 15, 2004, organization/31987.pdf. 2. ActionAid International, “Real Aid: Making Technical Assistance Work,” July 2006, http:// 3. Brian Atwood, Peter McPherson, and Andrew Natsios, “Arrested Development - Making Foreign Aid a More Effective Tool,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2008. 4. Lael Brainard, Security by Other Means: Foreign Assistance, Global Poverty, and American Leadership (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2006), 224. 5. Lael Brainard, “U.S. Foreign Assistance: Reinventing Aid for the 21st Century,” Brookings Institution, January 23, 2008, http://www. assistance_reform_brainard.aspx. 6. Will Dunham, “Bush signs expansion of global AIDS programs,” Reuters, July 30, 2008, http:// 7. “Dr. Eric Goosby Assumes the Role of U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator,” The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, June 23, 2009, organization/125456.pdf. 8. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Embassies Grapple to Guide Foreign Aid, report prepared by Richard G. Lugar, 110th Cong., 1st sess., 2007, Committee Print 110-33. 9. Connie Veillette, “Restructuring U.S. Foreign Aid: The Role of the Director of Foreign Assistance in Transformational Development,” Congressional Research Service, January 23, 2007, http://www. 10. Lugar, Embassies Grapple to Guide Foreign Aid. 11. Thalif Deen, “Tied Aid Strangling Nations, Says UN,” Inter Press Service, July 6, 2004, http:// 12. Thalif Deen, “US Dollars Yielded Unanimous UN Vote Against Iraq,” Inter Press Service, November 11, 2002, asp?idnews=13508. 13. Deen, “Tied Aid Strangling Nations.” 14. Ibid. 15. Atwood, et al., “Arrested Development.” 16. Lugar, Embassies Grapple to Guide Foreign Aid. 17. Atwood, et al., “Arrested Development.” 90

18. Ken Dilanian, “Short-staffed USAID tries to keep pace,” USA Today, February 1, 2009, http://www. 19. Gordon Lubold, “Blackwater fallout: Senate moves to rein in military contractors,” Christian Science Monitor, February 24, 2010, http:// Blackwater-fallout-Senate-moves-to-rein-inmilitary-contractors. 20. J. Brian Atwood, “Testimony to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S House of Representatives,” June 25, 2008, http:// 21. Lael Brainard, “Testimony to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S House of Representatives,” April 23, 2008, http:// 22. Steve Radelet, “Modernizing Foreign Assistance for the 21st Century: An Agenda for the Next U.S. President,” Center for Global Development, March 17, 2008, publications/detail/15561/. 23. Ibid. 24. Ibid. 25. Center for American Progress, “Beyond Assistance: The HELP Commission Report on Foreign Assistance Reform,” December 7, 2007, pdf/beyond_assistence.pdf. 26. Radelet, “Modernizing Foreign Assistance.” 27. Center for American Progress, “Beyond Assistance.” 28. Radelet, “Modernizing Foreign Assistance.” 29. Center for American Progress, “Beyond Assistance.” 30. Ibid. 31. Ibid. 32. InterAction, “A Call for a Comprehensive National Development Strategy,” November 2008, files/1/POLICY%20REPORTS/FOREIGN%20 ASSISTANCE%20BRIEFING%20BOOK/Sec12_ InterAction_Foreign_Assistance_Briefing_Book.pdf. 33. Ibid. 34. Radelet, “Modernizing Foreign Assistance.” 35. Center for American Progress, “Beyond Assistance.” 36. Radelet, “Modernizing Foreign Assistance.” 37. Center for American Progress, “Beyond Assistance.” 38. Anne C. Richard and George Rupp, “The ‘DFID Model’: Lessons for the U.S.,” Center for Transatlantic Relations, February 2009, http://

T H E RO OSEV E LT R EV I EW • Ro os evelt Institute Campu s Ne twork • Volu me 4 • Issu e 1 • 201 1 final.pdf. 39. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, “Transformational Diplomacy: Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2007-2012,” May 7, 2007, organization/86291.pdf. 40. Ibid. 41. United Nations Development Programme, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, “Reducing Disaster Risk: A Challenge for Development,” published 2004, new/rdr_english.pdf. 42. United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, “The link between Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and disaster risk reduction,” 2005, mdgs-drr/link-mdg-drr.htm. 43. United Kingdom Department for International Development, “Poverty Reduction Budget Support: A DFID policy paper,” May 2004, http:// pdf. 44. Richard and Rupp, “The ‘DFID Model.’” 45. Ibid.

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Mitigating Climate Change ABOUT THE AUTHORS Julia Sittig graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2010 with a B.A. in Environmental Science, specializing in Environmental Psychology, and a minor in French and Francophone Studies in 2010. Sittig served as Co-Director of the Center on the Environment of Michigan’s Roosevelt chapter. She is currently an intern at the Bureau of Land Management in Yuma, Arizona, where she is training to be a wildlife biologist. Gillian Wener graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2011 with a B.A. in Environmental Studies, specializing in Environmental Law. Since graduating, Wener has been working for GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., located in southeast Michigan, as an environmental consultant.

Ready-to-Implement Policies for the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions JULIA SITTIG and GILLIAN WENER University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

The problem of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere poses a substantial challenge to our country. The earlier the actions are taken to mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases, the milder and less costly these actions will necessarily be. This paper examines feasible public policy options for the United States federal government to mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases in six sectors: energy, transportation, agriculture, waste management, forestry, and urban construction. As the policies proposed in this paper will build upon existing policies of the federal government, they are designed to be implemented with minimal disruption. The proposed policies would create: (1) a federal minimum for energy production and distribution efficiency that begins at 50% and will increase incrementally by 5% every year, culminating in the construction of a national SmartGrid electricity system, (2) a federal mandate that will require all

public transit systems to be powered by renewable energy; (3) the replacement of certain agricultural subsidies with tax credits to incentivize best practices for American farmers; (4) a federal mandate requiring all recovery facilities for recyclables to be accompanied by a composting facility and all food service businesses to compost their organic waste; (5) the establishment of a pricing system for American timber that gives trees a sequestration value; and (6) a federal mandate requiring all new commercial buildings to be constructed in accordance with the International Green Construction Code standards. If implemented, these policies will not only help to mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases in the United States, one of the primary contributors of global climate change, but will also allow for more accurate predictive models of the effects of global climate change—thus improving our ability to plan and prepare for an uncertain future.

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Introduction Legions of climate scientists have established that avoiding an increase of global temperature above 2 degrees Celsius requires the immediate reduction and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.1 However, any realistic mitigation plan must take into account the human dependence upon the existing economic infrastructure to meet basic needs, such as energy, transportation, agriculture, waste management, forestry, and urban construction. Therefore, solutions that reconcile these two demands must be found. Our societal needs can certainly exist alongside the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but only with a corresponding change in cultural norms and human behavior. So far, learning institutions and private businesses have led the way in initiating the necessary changes to cultural norms. However, their efforts alone are not sufficient, as indicated by the steady increase of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions in the past decade.2 The United States federal government has acknowledged the necessity to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but has failed to create an effective policy agenda to address the issue. After a suit brought by several states and cities, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was forced by the courts to recognize carbon dioxide as meeting the characteristics of a criteria pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Carbon dioxide’s classification as a criteria pollutant marks it as a threat to the public welfare; thus, the federal government is responsible for controlling its emission.3 The White House recently declared its responsibility to create mitigation and adaptation policies by releasing the document “Progress Report of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force,” detailing plans climate change adaptation. The document stresses that interagency cooperation is a key factor in coordinating national action on climate change. The progress report outlines a social structure for adaptation planning; however, the final plans for adaptation will depend on the extent to which the United States mitigates climate change. Estimates of the effects of climate change will be based upon our present and future levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, established policies on mitigation will not only lessen the effects of global climate change, but will also improve the accuracy of adaptation planning. 94

Mitigation is a complex issue because of its global scope; it is difficult to organize plans into independent sectors. Two heavily discussed policy options are a administering a carbon tax and establishing a cap-and-trade system. These options encompass almost every sector of the American economic and governmental system, and creating policies for them will likely require magnitudes of discussion and revision that will prevent them from being implemented in a timely manner. As an alternative approach, dividing the burden of mitigation among different sectors of the government offers the promise of overcoming institutional inertia.4 The sectors chosen for this paper—energy, transportation, agriculture, waste management, forestry, and urban construction—have been identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as appropriate areas of focus for mitigation policy.5 The policies proposed in this paper will neither solve the entire mitigation problem, nor will they represent all of the available solutions. Rather, this paper makes specific recommendations for policies that utilize existing mechanisms within the framework of the United States federal government.

Energy Recommendations In order to improve the energy efficiency of the national electric grid, and thus reduce carbon emissions, legislation should mandate that the country build a SmartGrid system by 2030. This can be accomplished by establishing an initial federal floor for energy efficiency, then gradually raising the floor as regions prepare SmartGrid infrastructure. The initial federal floor should be of 50% efficiency of power production and distribution by 2015, and increase by 5% every five years. This way, the country will have time to integrate SmartGrid into the existing grid. Lastly, the federal government should demand adequate compensation for electricity provided through the national grid. Power production falls under the purview of the federal government as it is commonly traded across state lines. Regulation for energy efficiency is under the purview of the federal government and this power was previously exercised through the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974.6

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Options Additional options currently open to the federal government include a carbon tax for power producers, which has been the most attractive option to climate scientists. The alternative to a carbon tax, a cap and trade system, is initially more complex because it poses the dilemma of whether to give away emissions permits or to sell them. Utilities, therefore, may be slow to act under carbon-based policies. By contrast, the recommended option, incrementally stringent regulation for efficiency, would force utilities to adapt to the changes. Given that climate change is too pressing to allow for choice, regulating efficiency will yield more reduction in emissions.

Current Policy Although current efficiency levels are not enforced by any federal legislation, many grids are tremendously inefficient. Most power plants run at 50% efficiency rates, and those that utilize cogeneration are much higher. Cogeneration is when the excess heat from the creation of steam is used to create more steam or as heat for buildings, and is a simple way to significantly improve efficiency. Given the efficiency potential for existing power plants, an initial federal floor of 50% is perfectly feasible. Increasing the efficiency of the grid and opening the conversation on how we use power will decrease the need to burn fossil fuels. Currently, homeowners and businesses that feed power they produce into the public grid are not compensated for their contributions. Along with the tax credits given to independent power producers by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the government should justly compensate private producers for their energy. Economic compensation may encourage more people to install renewable power systems that have lower emissions than conventional utilities do.

Enforcement The federal government is committed to providing power to areas that would otherwise have no reliable access to electricity from other sources. As these areas are connected to the national electrical system, special provisions need to be made to ensure that the new additions meet the efficiency require-

ments anticipated by the regulations. The technology exists to create a smarter and more efficient grid; the issue is installing the infrastructure. It would benefit energy producers to improve their efficiency as quickly as possible, so that they can avoid updating their production systems each time the federal floor is raised. By making efficiency requirements across the grid, as opposed to evaluating requirements using individual power producers, some parts of the system compensate for others as adjustments are made. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) and its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy are going to be integral in providing the support for this legislation because of their ability to bridge the private utilities and the public need. Within the Federal Energy Management Program, there is an auditing system of efficiency. Especially because the DOE has failed their own audits in the past, a heavier hand in reducing energy waste would also provide good press for the department and an incentive for behavior changes. Given the relationship between the DOE and private energy producers, enforcing payment for renewable energy returned to the grid will be a critical service. Just as tax credits for renewable energy make renewable energy more economically feasible, allowing independent producers to sell back to the grid helps to return the investment of installing the national system.

Transportation Recommendation Transportation is the largest end-use emitter of carbon dioxide in the United States.7 The most recent EPA study in 2006 found transportation to be responsible for 29% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. A feasible policy (known as the “National Program”) for reducing greenhouse gas emissions was recently implemented for individual vehicles, resulting in the nationwide standardization of greenhouse gas reductions for private automobiles. But reducing personal emissions is not nearly as effective for mitigation as encouraging the use of public transit. According to the American Public Transit Association, “communities that invest in public transit reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons an-

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nually, equivalent to New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles combined stopping using electricity.”8 If public transit systems were powered by renewable energy, mitigation would increase beyond levels established by regulations for individual vehicles alone. Effective and feasible mitigation policy in the United States concerning transportation should include: (1) all new and existing transit systems must be powered by renewable energy by the deadline established after plans are submitted and (2) a national gas tax will be imposed to increase ridership and to pay for the public transit systems.

Options Using renewable energy for public transit systems will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The problem is finding the money and developing the infrastructure to convert existing systems. It will be difficult to set national guidelines for this development, since each city has its own existing systems. For example, Portland, Oregon already has a stable system of electric buses, whereas Detroit, Michigan does not even have a coherent public transit system. The federal government should communicate with cities on an individual level to discuss their options for converting to renewable energy. The government should then set a deadline, for the final conversion to renewable power, based on the city that will need the most time. This deadline will also take into account the peak date of emissions needed to keep the temperature change within two degrees of preindustrial levels. The type of renewable energy used to power the transit vehicles also depends on local characteristics of cities. Many cities currently use electric vehicles powered by nonrenewable energy (such as the subways of New York and Boston), gas-powered buses, railways, or a combination of the three. Some cities are experimenting with more sustainable options, but are challenged with lack of renewable energy sources and funding. New York’s metro is conducting a pilot program using wind and offshore energy, but is currently powered by non-renewable sources because it would require connecting with many renewable energy

plants to power the entire system.9 If legislation were passed connecting cities’ transit systems and power companies, revolutionizing the transit systems would be much simpler for cities. Portland, Oregon provides a feasible model for a citywide electric bus system. Portland’s buses are powered by electricity, and the system has been widely used since 1986.10 The next step would be to generate that electricity without emitting carbon. Renewable-powered electric buses are a feasible option for many cities. Also, there are now a variety of additional options for getting energy for electric buses, such as putting solar panels on buses. Transportation may be powered by various types of emerging renewable technologies, and cities will need to decide with the federal government plans for energy consumption. Improvements to public transit systems should be financed by an increase in taxes on gasoline. The current tax is not nearly enough to pay for transit systems.12 An alternative to taxation for paying for these systems is nearly impossible. Public transit is not a profitable business, as was shown by General Motors’ attempt to profit from the San Francisco trolley system.13 The gasoline tax would continue for long after the transit systems have been remodeled, so the costs will be recovered over time, though the revenue should decrease over time. A higher gasoline tax will also provide a greater incentive for individuals to ride the subway instead of using personal vehicles. In most major cities such as New York and Boston, reliable public transportation is available, accessible, and long established. However, many residents of these cities still prefer to use private vehicles. Only about oneeighth of New York City’s population uses the subway daily, even though it has been well established for many years and has a reputation of reliability.14 Many incentives to increase ridership have been tested such as lowering the cost of riding, making public transportation more accessible, and styling the transportation vehicles in an attractive way. However, these attempts have been largely unsuccessful. The additional incentive of a national tax on all gasoline is necessary to increase ridership.

Dividing the burden of mitigation among different sectors of the government offers the promise of overcoming institutional inertia.


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Current Policy

while reducing taxes. Subsidies allow farms to produce crops worth less than their production costs.16 Tax policy (and the services provided by taxes) can augment farmers’ profits more effectively than higher subsidies. Although certain mitigation options such as no-till farming require less machinery, conversion costs are an issue in a country where farming can be an uncertain business.

The federal government already regulates gasoline taxes. The government has jurisdiction under the Commerce Clause to regulate price of gas, because the trade of gasoline occurs across state lines.15 Existing funding for public transit comes partly from current gas taxes; however, it has been difficult for politicians to gain public support to raise gasoline taxes, as it difficult for politicians to raise support for Options any tax. Other options to force greenhouse gas reduction include mandating farmers to adopt mitigaEnforcement tion technologies and practices. It is important not A federal law should be passed to require each to impose penalties with this policy. Any policy that state sending a plan to the national EPA that meets mandates farmers to take on further financial burdens the requirement of renewable public transit. The law would meet a great deal of resistance from the farm needs to include a mandate for states to commit to lobby. purchasing renewable energy from public or private energy providers to power their transit systems. This Current Policy power will be produced in different states, so a network will need to be established between cities, and In the United States, the current model of farm renewable energy companies. Research by the Unit- policy operates through the vein of commodity proed States Department of Energy could help to design grams. These programs promote specialized monothis new infrastructure. cultural agricultural economies that use resourceThe taxes must be raised on a federal level, re- intensive methods of production.17 The emphasis on gardless of support from constituents of state legisla- this type of large-scale commercial production has tors. If states commit to remodel their transit systems been criticized greatly as unsustainable because the by purchasing energy from businesses in addition to nutrients used by plants’ growth are not replenished. raising taxes, higher taxes may be more readily ac- Tilling, for example, breaks up drainage channels and cepted. The partnership is critical in gaining public contributes greatly to the loss of topsoil and the resupport. Federal legislation must be written despite sultant problems. The current subsidy system also public dissent. Without the mandate, it is likely that lacks encouragement for farmers to mitigate greenthe long-term benefits of using public transit will be house gases. Tax credits, like those written into the ignored, and cities would have to find other ways to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, fund their transit systems, which would likely raise have been proven to allow interested parties to impletaxes anyway. ment renewable technology that was previously cost prohibitive.



Enforcement of regulation requires the combination of self-reporting and IRS review to ensure In order to encourage mitigation practices in that actual practices are congruent to those reported. the agricultural industry, the United States federal One of the largest obstacles to the acceptance of this government should provide tax breaks to farms that system is the farm lobby. The industrial farm lobby is practice mitigation. The government should simulta- exceedingly powerful, as they represent the primary neously reduce available subsidies for large mono- producers of food products in the country. The farm culture operations. Cutting the subsidies would allow lobby would undoubtedly object to any legislation the government to continue offering public services that would reduce the subsidies that allow them to


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produce corn for more than it is worth and still make a profit. Additionally, legislating any requirement to purchase new equipment, which is extremely costly, would be met with resistance. Tax breaks are thus a good idea because they would help to offset the initial costs of new equipment. It represents more of a compromise than an obligation, and would draw less fire from the lobby. There are mechanisms for farmers to reduce their emissions and encourage the further application of techniques, such as the reduction of tillage, the reduction of fertilizer usage, and the construction of hoop houses or greenhouses. Reducing the amount of tillage helps to maintain the properties of the soil as a carbon sink. The tilling process disrupts the sequestration of carbon and releases it into the atmosphere.18 Further, less tilling reduces emissions from tractor fuel. A reduction in use of fertilizer plants like cowpeas will restore nutrients to the soil. Also, current over-applications of pesticides have been implicated as a source of nitrous oxide, which has been shown to be 298 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat. Hoop houses allow food to be grown throughout the year, reducing the need to import different foods from far away. Tax reductions should be offered on a sliding scale based on how many changes are implemented on a certain farm. It would be difficult to base scale based on carbon emissions because of the difficulty of quantifying emissions, especially when considering the amount of carbon sequestered by soil in the fields. A point system, in which a value is assigned to each mitigation behavior and a multiplier based on the scale of its implementation, would be much easier to calculate.

Waste Management Recommendation The United States should make composting organic waste a priority by subsidizing composting facilities and providing tax credit for organizations who compost their waste. Organic waste from landfills emits dangerous amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Twenty-six percent of waste in landfills is organic scrap.19 Therefore, the U.S. can mitigate climate change by encouraging 98

composting behavior. The federal government should require that: (1) every recyclable recovery facility be accompanied by a composting facility and (2) food service businesses, including farms, must compost their food and animal waste. Of course, encouraging and enforcing this behavior will necessitate federal subsidies.

Options It can be argued that a less expensive option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be capturing methane from landfills. However, reusing composted material immediately will save more resources than putting them in the ground first. Without the intermediate step of landfills, the U.S. can avoid both the costs of equipment needed to capture gas over impossibly large areas and the risk of letting methane escape. Also, using the compost for farming and gardening will reduce the need for tilling and using existing farm soil. Therefore, composting before organic waste reaches the landfill is more material-efficient than methane capture. The options for composting pile locations vary, but the fewest greenhouse gases would be emitted if transportation was used to move compost and other waste simultaneously. A way to separate the different types of material would be to have a separate compartment in the vehicle for organic wastes. Putting composting piles at landfill facilities would be complex; landfills are often privately owned, and would be difficult to regulate. If composting facilities were partnered with recovery facilities for recycled material, the system would more easily be managed by the public sector. As a way to make the public recognize the importance of composting, the federal government should mandate that every food service business and farm participate in composting. The visibility of these industries will expose the public consciousness to composting and perhaps open the dialogue on nutrient cycling. Requiring food service businesses and farms to compost is necessary for eliminating large portions of methane emissions. Some people may say that subsidies alone will change organizational behavior; however, with only subsidizing composting facilities, many large organizations will probably refuse to recognize composting as an economic option. Many businesses do not even consider using recycled material, despite the fact that recycled materials are often cheaper and

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closer to manufacturing facilities than raw materials. Composting will probably result in even less economic return for businesses than recycling does because the companies will rarely actually reuse the composted material. For example, most of the compost in Ann Arbor, Michigan is donated to line landfills, although it should be sold to gardeners. For farmers, the reuse of compost for fields may be profitable, but buying machinery will incur initial costs that would be best supported by the subsidies. For changing how businesses and farms dispose of their waste, monetary incentives will be necessary because composting provides few independently. As far as options for where to compost, food services and farmers should have a choice between on-site and community facilities. Depending on their distance from community facilities and their personal uses for compost, they should be permitted to select the option that is best for them. Farmers would find a use for their compos to fertilize their own crops, and businesses would be able sell it to nurseries or gardeners.

ister with their local governments, whether they are using a private or public composting facility to qualify for the tax credits. They will report annually on their composting, and the EPA will review the reports. The farmers and businesses will receive tax credit when they confirm their composting behavior, and will be fined by their community composting/recycling facility when they do not comply with the standards. Both incentives and punishments must be in place for composting regulation to become effective; otherwise, changing waste policies will be perceived as too much effort for organizations. Using similar implementation to that of recycling, and with the addition of financial incentives, the United States should be able to install a reliable composting system.

Forestry Recommendation

Composting programs can be modeled and partnered with recycling programs. Recycling programs in the United States are already largely successful. Most major cities have successful programs; the city of Detroit, which was last major American city to recycle, is already enjoying success from the program.20 Composting programs can be developed in a similar way: as local projects. Pairing them with recycling facilities underscores this local basis to the federal program. For example, Toronto, Canada has already partnered its recycling program with a composting program. Its Green Bin Program invites citizens to place organic waste in a bin similar to a recycling bin that is picked up with recyclable waste.21 The program serves 510,000 single-family households and 5,000 multi-family buildings.

One of the effective and economical methods of mitigating climate change is reforestation. Reforestation has the potential to be used as a “marketbased instrument for accomplishing global environmental objectives.22 The selling of carbon offsets could fund protected forests in the United States. Carbon offsets are a growing market; the federal government should capitalize on these offsets because they provide profit without damaging the resource. Forest resources in both the National Forest and Wilderness systems are readily available. Placing a sequestration value on them would lead to their protection. Giving trees value independent of their timber could prevent many acres from being lost to logging. Currently, the NFS occasionally permits on National land to increase revenue. There is no doubt that carbon permits would draw more revenue for the federal government than their timber allowances—although the timber is worth more per unit—because there is the potential to sell more carbon permits.


Current Policy

There must be a method of enforcement in addition to incentives to assure composting behavior. Federal tax credits should be given to local governments to distribute to participants. The IRS will ensure that the tax credits are being distributed to those who have earned them. Farmers and businesses must reg-

Given the SEC’s new requirement that publicly traded companies must disclose their total emissions and their projected climate change impacts, carbon offsets are going to become considerably more popular for businesses. Reforestation is also an option for brown field redevelopment.

Current Policy

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One of the greatest issues with Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) is that it discourages the redevelopment of brownfields.23 Brown fields are former industrial sites that are contaminated, although not on the National Priorities List. Many developers avoid purchasing brown fields, because under CERCLA they would be liable for cleaning up that contamination, even though it existed at the site prior to purchase. These lands are often ceded to the government, who is then responsible for clean-up.

Enforcement The federal government is in a good position to encourage reforestation. With 193 million acres of national forest already regulated by the forest service, the federal government possesses the knowledge and the resources to begin reforestation.24 National Forest land has been selectively logged and replanted since the time of Gifford Pinchot and the earliest beginnings of forestry in the United States. Its history of cycling forest resources renders the National Forest Service well informed and capable of functioning as the regulator of selling the offset permits. As opposed to allowing the federal government to retain forestry permits, the National Forest Service should sell them to the newly produced carbon offsets for industry or individuals, and use the revenues towards their reforestation efforts. By creating the market for federally produced carbon offsets, the system has the potential to pay for itself. Especially as society makes the shift to acting on climate change and carbon sequestration becomes more important, the demand for the carbon offsets produced by the United States federal government will increase. This will naturally lead to increased profits, which could be used to continue the program or other mitigation activity, such as reclaiming, remediating and reforesting brown field post-industrial sites. Using reclaimed land to plant trees for mitigation has potential benefits beyond the carbon offsets. Trees provide critical ecosystem services that could help the land to recover from phytoremediation. Especially in cases of organic pollutants, plants are effective remediation tools.25 In the case of reforesting and selling forestry permits, the government addresses two issues at once. It increases forested land that has market value while redeveloping the government’s abandoned land. 100

Urban Construction Recommendation In addition to imposing gasoline taxes, installing renewable-powered public transit, and establishing composting programs, cities should be required to grow sustainably. One part of sustainable growth is constructing properly designed buildings; buildings account for the greatest amount of electricity use in America. A guide for sustainable buildings, the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) has recently been published. The guide represents the consensus of construction experts around the globe concerning sustainable building techniques.26 All new buildings in the United States should meet these standards, as they are both feasible and appropriate. Each new project will have to present the public with an inventory of its compliance with IGCC standards. Whether the project is approved will be up to public approval. Projects that do not complete this step can be sued by the government or by citizen suit and can be penalized for non-compliance.

Options A completely top-down approach to green building construction is unrealistic because construction is such a market-based activity. Therefore, the action on sustainable buildings should involve public and private partnerships. A good place to start is the Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative, started by the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal of the initiative is “to achieve marketable, net-zero energy commercial buildings in all U.S. climate zones by 2025.”27 The Commercial Building Initiative has already incorporated government, non-government, and private organizations (including retail, commercial real estate, hospitals, and national laboratories). The federal government should build upon the foundation set by this initiative with supporting legislation that provides funding for green construction projects and regulation for building standards. The type of buildings required to comply with IGCC standards must be considered. At this point, sustainable homes are too costly for many individuals to purchase. Although sustainable homes may even-

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tually be more cost-efficient for homeowners, money from the government would be needed to fund the initial purchase of most sustainable homes. Separate legislation would be needed for an appropriate funding system for sustainable single-family homes; it would be more efficient for the country to focus on one type of construction legislation. For the time being, the U.S. government should focus primarily on the sustainability of large commercial buildings, which use the most energy.

Current Policy Current Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) regulation mandates that all publicly traded companies publicly report potential risks that they face from global climate as well as their emissions. The Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) has provisions that force companies to reveal the amount of toxic chemicals that are used by the business.28 The public availability of this information has influenced market performance in the past, when cleaner companies have performed better after the release of the data and larger polluters lost market share. The SEC and EPCRA exemplify two federal policies that demonstrate the true value of public input.

Enforcement Handing enforcement of the green building standards over to the community and public can be extremely effective. To support public engagement, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has a provision for holding agencies accountable for failing to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and citizens have been active in suing agencies for noncompliance through the Administrative Procedures Act. These lawsuits have been very effective in ensuring that the assessments are completed, to the surprise of even the litigants. Community involvement in environmental issues tends to procure more environmentally friendly results. Further, community assessment of a structure’s sustainability will act as a financial incentive for builders. As evidenced by the results of the EPCRA legislation, companies that report using and releasing lower levels of contaminants are more attractive to investors and clients.

Conclusion The burden of acting on global climate change cannot be carried solely by individuals or private institutions. It is the responsibility of government to compensate for the limitations of other groups using its legislative and police powers. As the government acknowledges in the Progress Report of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force: “Continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is critical to limiting the extent of climate change impacts, and resulting damage.” Thus far, the government has been derelict in its duty to protect the public from the effects of climate change, as they are required to do by the Clean Air Act. They have finally recognized the import of taking appropriate action, and the recommendations presented in this paper combine significant mitigation with appropriate swiftness. Working within the existing infrastructure will quicken mitigation behavior by minimizing challenges to the government’s regulatory authority. The policies also incorporate multiple sectors of American society and reach a diverse set of actors. Americans required to take action range from independent power producers to utility companies, from car owners to city transit systems, from small farmers to big agribusinesses, from gardeners to chain restaurants, from the family on RV tour to the logging industry, and from community organizers to real estate developers. The aforementioned policies are only starting points for changing both government inaction and the public perception of the seriousness of climate change.

Notes 1. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Climate Change 2007: Working Group III Report: Mitigation of Climate Change” (Geneva: IPCC, 2007), ch. 1-5. 2. “Basic Facts,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, last modified March 2010, http://www.epa. gov/wastes/nonhaz/municipal/index.htm. 3. Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, 549 U.S. 497 (2007). 4. Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow, “Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies,” Science 13 (2004): 968-972.

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5. IPCC, “Climate Change 2007.” 6. Zygmunt Plater, William Goldfarb, and Robert Abrams, Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society (New York: Aspen, 2004), 163. 7. “Basic Facts.” 8. “Frequently Asked Questions,” American Road & Transportation Builders Association, http://www. 9. “Sustainability and the MTA,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority, sustainability. 10. “Oregon QuickFacts,” U.S. Census Bureau, http:// 11. “Frequently Asked Questions.” 12. Cliff Slater, “General Motors and the Demise of the Streetcars,” Transportation Quarterly 51 (1997): 45-66. 13. “NYC Subway System,” Mediabridge Infosystems, 14. U.S. Const. art. I, §4. 15. Plater, et al., Environmental Law and Policy, 163. 16. Larry Burmeister, “Resilience and vulnerability in U.S. farm policy: parsing the payment limitation debate,” Agricultural Human Values 25 (2007): 183186. 17. Bruce McCarl and Uwe Schneider, “Greenhouse Gas Mitigation in US Agriculture and Forestry,” Nature 294 (2001): 2481-2482. 18. “Basic Facts.” 19. “Recycling,” RecycleHere, http://www.recyclehere. net/. 20. “Green Bin Program,” City of Toronto, http://www. 21. Pedro Moura-Costa and Marc D. Stuart, “ForestryBased Greenhouse Gas Mitigation: A Short Story of Market Evolution,” Commonwealth Forestry Review 77 (1998), 191-202. 22. Plater, et al., Environmental Law and Policy, 163. 23. “U.S. Forest Service History Projects and Policies,” United States Forest Service, http://www.fs.fed. us/. 24. Richard Meagher, “Phytoremediation of Toxic Elemental and Organic Pollutants,” Current Opinion in Plant Biology 3 (2000): 5. 25. International Code Council, “International Green Construction Code” (Washington, D.C.: International Code Council, 2010), 1-163. 26. “Statement of Drury Crawley of the U.S. Department of Energy before the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the U.S. House of Representatives,” July 16, 2009. 27. Plater, et al., Environmental Law and Policy, 163.


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ABOUT THE EDITORS Frank Lin graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Chicago in 2010 with a B.A. in Philosophy and a minor in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. He worked as a student staffer at Roosevelt’s national office in 2007 and served on Roosevelt’s National Editorial Board from 2007 to 2010. During college, Lin interned at the Hudson Institute and the Obama for America National Headquarters, studied Arabic in Tangier, Morocco on a Department of State Critical Language Scholarship, and was a Humanity in Action Fellow in Amsterdam. He hopes to enter law school next fall. Carolina Delgado is a student at Georgetown University, where she will graduate in 2012. James Hobbes graduated cum laude from Colorado College in 2011 with a B.A. in Political Science. Hobbes served as a member of Roosevelt’s National Editorial Board and as Vice President of Roosevelt’s Colorado College chapter. He also contributed to several Roosevelt publications, writing on issues ranging from agriculture to energy to equal justice, and served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal 10 Ideas for Defense and Diplomacy in 2011. This fall, Hobbs will begin his first year at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

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2011 Roosevelt Review  

The Roosevelt Review is the flagship national public policy journal of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network. Launched in 2005 as Roosevelt...

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