"Escaping" America’s Future: A Clarion Call For A National Energy Security Strategy

The United States is by far the biggest shopper of petroleum, averaging virtually 20 million barrels a day, or about 23% of the world’s total consumption. Although the U.S. is the third largest producer of petroleum, the nation is 57% depending on imported crude to maintain its world affect and the existence of its residents. The availability and distribution of this very important commodity, alas, is altering quickly in an atmosphere that’s characterised by rising aggressive nations, extended conflicts, transnational threats, and world warming. It can be believed that the world has reached its “Hubbert’s Peak” in oil reserves and manufacturing will decline quickly over the following 100 years. Consequently, the U.S. will proceed to really feel the strains of oil atrophy and face a hard future except it adjustments course.

U.S. leaders and students acknowledge the necessity to scale back the dependence upon overseas oil and have enacted laws to flee America’s future. Recently, the President unveiled elements of his new complete power coverage, the cornerstones of that are: elevated home manufacturing; improved gas requirements for autos; and renewable energies. These are important steps in the fitting course. Nonetheless, the mere incontrovertible fact that oil is an over consumed, excessive demand, globalized commodity that impacts each citizen underscores the necessity for a extra complete method to power safety.

The Administration ought to increase its coverage for power safety right into a broader framework and rebrand it National Energy Security Strategy (NESS), with the Department of Energy because the lead company. It ought to embody a 20-30 12 months roadmap for America’s protected transformation to a safer power future beneath six central themes: Engage, Secure, Conserve, Adapt, Protect, and Evolve (ESCAPE).

The following are transient definitions:

Engage – Engaging our companions in power commerce, assuring them of our commitments, and main the cooperative effort between suppliers and customers so as to mitigate potential friction factors sooner or later.

Secure – Maintaining the safety and stability of our power sources, together with our oil suppliers, sea traces of communication, and important infrastructure (each home and overseas).

Conserve – Promoting self-discipline in power consumption via conservation efforts, incentives, and different instruments.

Adapt – Transitioning to a extra various and balanced mixture of power sources by kind and origin so as to guarantee resiliency all through power shortages and different world crises.

Protect – Protecting the atmosphere via diminished emissions, utilizing cleaner and fewer environmentally dangerous sources of power, and having speedy response capabilities to deal with fuel-related disasters.

Evolve – Innovating new applied sciences, advocating new concepts, and remodeling the infrastructure and existence to create a safer and extra sustainable power system.

Energy safety includes extra stakeholders than every other very important curiosity. The components comprising power safety shouldn’t be fragmented into numerous unsynchronized methods and plans. Rather, they need to be synthesized into one complete technique so that everybody understands not solely their roles and duties, but additionally the relationships and impacts of their actions to others. This article outlines the six proposed themes of the NESS and the associated points that warrant a single complete technique.


The nation’s leaders want to navigate away from our oil dependency by way of insurance policies and spending and this can be a noble endeavor. However, within the close to time period the U.S. should depend on imported oil – it’s an inescapable conclusion. Accordingly, The NESS should deal with how engagement actions will assist the gradual transition from imported oil. Engagement should contain diplomacy, management, and a touch of political agility so as to mitigate future disputation between the suppliers and customers.

The worldwide political atmosphere is turning into extra advanced within the globalized world of oil commerce. By 2030 the world will devour roughly 118 Million barrels of oil per day, or roughly 30 Million further barrels day by day above at present’s price. This has spawned a fast-paced diplomatic scramble by each developed and growing nations to safe the remaining oil reserves due to the gradual development in direction of extra considerable and safer renewable energies. China and India are aggressively pursuing offers with new companions in oil provide so as to meet their nationwide strategic objectives for the following a number of a long time. This, coupled with Middle Eastern Muslims’ “unfavorable” views of the U.S., raises the stakes in diplomacy. Energy economist Pete Tertzakian coined the First Principle of Energy Consumption, which observes {that a} nation’s wealth is instantly associated to its stage of power consumption. China, particularly, has aggressively engaged oil producers worldwide for the chance to safe a considerable circulation of oil. Recently, China supplanted the United States in each Saudi Arabia and Iraq with bigger export agreements. China additionally not too long ago signed important oil export agreements with the U.S.’s first and third largest exporters of oil (Canada and Venezuela). China’s current successes recommend one in every of two issues: (1) both the United States has been out-bargained, or (2) our engagement efforts want enchancment.

The Engagement theme of the NESS should focus diplomatic efforts on retaining our present sources of imported oil, whereas forging new relationships with growing nations of nice potential. Engagement should embody coordinated measures that will instantly counter efforts of China in states and areas the place the U.S. competes for very important pursuits. The Persian Gulf is one such area the place China has regularly expanded its management over oil exports via commerce agreements, infrastructure enhancements, and different beneficiant incentives. In addition to beating out the United States in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, China can be the second largest importer of Iranian oil, which supplies it a possible benefit in shaping Middle Eastern politics.

Despite present necessity, the United States should ultimately turn out to be much less reliant on Persian Gulf oil. Engaging African and Latin American nations alongside the Atlantic Ocean might scale back our dependency on Middle Eastern oil and drastically scale back danger by shortening sea traces of communication. The United States attracts about 20% of its imported oil from the Persian Gulf and will offset a portion of this via new relationships. In 2007, as an example, Brazil found the Carioca-Sugar Loaf Oil area off of the coast of Rio de Janeiro and it’s believed to carry as much as forty billion barrels of sunshine crude. This discovery, together with a number of different fields within the area, might present as much as a number of million barrels of oil day by day, or sufficient to simply change a portion or the entire U.S.’s Middle Eastern exports.

The United States also needs to lead within the institution of a global consortium of shopper nations to probably work out any potential commerce points or conflicts and to offer a counter drive to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).


“He who owns the oil will own the world, for he will own the seas by means of the heavy oils, the air by means of the ultra refined oils, and the land by means of the petrol and the illuminating oils. And in addition to these he will rule his fellow man in an economic sense, by reason of the fantastic wealth he will derive from oil – the wonderful substance which is more sought after and more precious today than gold itself.” -Henri Berenger

Sustained entry to, and circulation of imported oil throughout this obligatory transition to a safer power combine should stay on the forefront of the National Energy Security Strategy (NESS). Oil is intrinsically related to the financial vitality of the U.S. and world demand has risen to such a stage that any delicate disruption in world provide will influence the financial system, right down to the person shopper.

Throughout the world, there are a number of vital areas the place provide interdiction might ignite a regional disaster with world implications. There are, as an example, oil transit chokepoints alongside sea traces of communications, together with: the Strait of Hormuz, the Strait of Malacca, the Suez Canal and Suez-Mediterranean Pipeline (SUMED), the Bab el-Mendab, the Turkish Straights, and the Panama Canal. Through these eight slender passages circulation roughly 42.7 million barrels of oil day by day enroute to customers, or about one half of the world’s day by day consumption. Any disruption of this circulation (such because the 2008 hijacking of an oil supertanker by Somali pirates or the 2002 al Qaeda suicide boat assault on the Limbourg) might have profound results on the U.S. financial system.

There are different disconcerting warning indicators that the U.S. ought to heed. Of the highest ten U.S. oil exporters, for instance, eight are labeled as “in danger” of turning into failed states. These included: Iraq (vital), Nigeria, Colombia, Angola, Algeria, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico (borderline). Terrorism, each at house and overseas, can be a continuing risk to the US oil commerce and might have resounding results on the financial system if centered towards the oil trade. Past assaults on oil infrastructure have proven the great results that terrorism can obtain. Al Qaeda’s 2005 assault on the Aramco facility in Saudi Arabia had an evidential influence on the worldwide markets. Terrorist leaders, akin to Osama bin Laden, have additionally referred to as upon Muslim extremists to focus assaults on oil infrastructure that serves western pursuits. As not too long ago as March 2010, Saudi Arabian safety forces arrested 113 al Qaeda militants that had been plotting to assault key oil amenities in Riyadh.

Piracy is a rising menace to the oil trade, having garnered over “tens of billions” of {dollars} in ransom cash from hijackings alongside the Horn of Africa and elsewhere just like the Gulf of Guinea. Oil tankers are hijacked frequently for thousands and thousands USD (roughly round Three million USD per vessel), with cargoes that worth within the vary of 80 – 160 million {dollars}. The Sirius Star supertanker, as an example, was hijacked in 2008 and was carrying over two million barrels of crude (about 10% of U.S. day by day consumption).

The U.S. Homeland, as effectively, shouldn’t be with out its share of vulnerabilities. The Gulf of Mexico and bordering states have the majority of the U.S.’s home oil manufacturing capabilities. There are oil platforms, refineries, and the majority of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) all nested on this area and susceptible to a full vary of assaults and sabotage. The current Deepwater Horizon oil spill incident within the Gulf, though labeled an accident, demonstrates how damaging a possible assault on infrastructure might be to U.S. pursuits. Moreover, this unprecedented incident is demonstrating the necessity for the U.S. Government to incorporate multi-national firms in its strategic framework.

There are solely about 149 oil refineries within the US. In order to feed the nation’s demand for gas, these refineries function between 92 to 97 % capability 12 months lengthy, leaving little room for error. The safety of those vital infrastructure and key assets (CIKR) is therefore one other side of power safety that must be coordinated with the milestones set forth within the NESS.

The NESS ought to information and inform DoD, DOE, DHS, and others of their duties to safe the sources of power which are obligatory to securely make the transition to different fuels over the following 20 to 30 years. Since sources of US oil originate from numerous unstable locations all through the world, the NESS ought to transcend conventional boundaries established by departments to offer a extra complete understanding of the goals, priorities, and milestones for attaining power safety via all components of ESCAPE. Clearly, the safety of the ocean traces of communication, safety and capability constructing of our high oil exporters and the safety of oil infrastructure and vessels require a worldwide method.


“Conservation is the quickest, cheapest, most practical source of energy.” – President Jimmy Carter

Conservation is as very important to the NESS, as drug demand discount is to the National Drug Control Strategy. Over 70% of all petroleum consumed by the United States is thru the transportation sector, of which nearly 64% of that is via gentle autos (automobiles, gentle vehicles, and bikes). This signifies that the majority of America’s power urge for food is derived from a mixture of many smaller transportation necessities, akin to privately owned autos, small enterprise automobiles and vehicles, and different inefficient modes of transportation. Energy consumption within the United States is unmatched by different nations and far of it should be mitigated via demand discount.

The main goal of the NESS beneath the Conserve theme ought to be a quantifiable discount in consumption via conservation efforts. The President made a number of bulletins on March 31st 2010 that touched on the fringes of conservation, however didn’t strike on the coronary heart of the issue. Higher gas requirements for autos, different fuels, and home exploration and manufacturing don’t consequence within the mobilization of the lots to do extra in direction of decreasing the rising dependence on imported oil. Even the proposed Home Star Bill makes use of an incentive-based method to power conservation, however leaves the consumption price to the person consumer. As written, these instruments invite a paradoxical response that results in doubtlessly increased demand and consumption. This has been referred to as the Jevons Paradox, Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate, or just the rebound impact. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 was an essential step in direction of complete power safety, however missed the chance to invoke conservation. The Act addresses increased gas financial system requirements, renewable fuels, automobile and equipment know-how, power mandates for buildings, analysis and growth, and several other different areas. However, the one try to handle the person shopper was the allotment of 5 million {dollars} yearly for the Department of Energy to conduct a nationwide media marketing campaign.

In order to correctly mitigate our oil habit, nationwide leaders should embark on a conservation marketing campaign with laws and incentives as key components to the NESS that can information the discount of unbridled consumption hand in hand with the opposite milestones of ESCAPE.

The final time the U.S. leaders successfully impacted demand progress of oil was between 1977 and 1985, partially on account of laws and motion by President Jimmy Carter throughout his time period. Through his “Crisis of Confidence” speech and several other acts such because the Fuel Use Act, he was capable of each encourage and implement conservation for the betterment of the nation.

Enforcing conservation via laws shouldn’t be a preferred job, however nonetheless a obligatory ingredient of a holistic technique. The NESS ought to embody milestones for the discount in the usage of oil, accompanied with sure corresponding milestones on enhancements to mass transportation, infrastructure, the event of renewable energies, environmental restrictions, and incentives. The US Government also needs to think about the gradual enhance of a gasoline tax that might not solely immediate the typical citizen to be extra selective in shopping for and utilizing personally owned autos, however might additional help in mitigating the nationwide deficit that resulted in 2008.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), in coordination with the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, and Internal Revenue Service, could be the suitable lead federal company for the preserve theme of the NESS. In coordination with the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the USEPA might oversee the strategic implementation of the conservation efforts.


The world’s whole oil-producing and refining capability is at the moment working at over 97.5 %, which signifies that any disruption of oil provide on the earth will have an affect on each shopper. In a current research, researchers at Oxford University concluded that by 2015 the world will surpass its provide capability with demand, forcing nations that haven’t ready for this turning level to make robust selections on how one can survive the unanticipated interval of transition to different fuels. Adapt is a vital theme of the NESS. Adapt, in a strategic context, is the gradual and orderly diversification of our present power portfolio in accordance with the altering circumstances of world oil demand so as to escape a future breaking level. The Adapt theme of the NESS ought to deal with not solely how the nation will diversify its power combine over time, but additionally how the US will search extra steady and handy sources of oil provide so as to maintain resiliency throughout future crises across the globe.

Using 2008 information, oil accounts for 40 % of the power market within the United States. This excessive stage of dependency factors to the necessity to diversify our power combine to extra dependable, cleaner power. Several nations have completed this seemingly tough job. Japan, as an example, has diminished its dependency on oil by roughly 30 % and continues to remodel its power combine based mostly on its New National Energy Security Strategy of 2006. Denmark is one other trail-blazer. The oil disaster of 1973 was the catalyst of change for the Danish authorities, which correctly instituted an power technique that yielded sufficient wind energy infrastructure to offer 20% of the nation’s electrical energy. Admirably, Denmark’s imaginative and prescient is to turn out to be 100% unbiased of fossil fuels.

Adapting America’s present power combine requires some open fascinated by a number of traditionally controversial power sources. Nuclear energy, for instance, is a divisive subject that causes each elected officers and their constituents to shrink back. Yet, nuclear energy already offers about 20 % of America’s electrical energy, and has prevented the emissions of thousands and thousands brief tons of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and carbon dioxide. France makes use of nuclear energy to supply eighty % of its power.

Domestic oil manufacturing is one other viable supply of power, however has suffered current setbacks as a result of Deepwater Horizon oil spill within the Gulf of Mexico. The Outer Continental Shelf surrounding the United States possesses practically 86 billion barrels of oil and a few 420 trillion cubic toes of pure gasoline. This doesn’t recommend that the U.S. ought to utterly divert to those homeland assets, however ought to think about the danger tradeoff between home-produced versus Persian Gulf oil.

Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) is one other supply of power that has but to seize the broad curiosity of American industries. It is the cleanest burning fossil gas and has the potential to switch each coal and gas-burning energy vegetation and autos. Despairingly, LNG has not been broadly embraced within the U.S. and has resulted in low investments by personal corporations. Consequently, solely seven of the forty LNG terminals which have been accredited for building within the U.S. will doubtless be constructed.

The number of future fuels should be rigorously determined. Several credible analysts consider that corn ethanol is environmentally unsound, threatening to meals provides, and a facade as a result of quantity of fossil fuels in the end used to domesticate, course of and transport it.

Another side of adapting the nation’s power combine for the longer term is to diversify our oil export companions in direction of extra steady and safer long-term sources. Brazil, for instance, is a steady authorities that not too long ago found an enormous oil reserve believed to include anyplace between two and seventy billion barrels of sunshine crude and is roughly one half the ocean distance to New Orleans than the Persian Gulf.


Protecting the atmosphere ought to be a precedence inside the NESS and is indissoluble from the opposite vital components of the power technique. Greenhouse gases are inflicting local weather change at unprecedented ranges and have been steadily growing as a consequence of human actions, primarily from burning fossil fuels. Emissions of assorted varieties have prompted world warming tendencies, with the final seven of eight years registering because the warmest recorded years over the past century. Similarly, the speed of warming within the final thirty years has been 3 times higher than the entire earlier 100 years.

CO2 emissions are probably the most outstanding contributors to those undesirable tendencies and are instantly linked to the usage of fossil fuels, primarily coal and oil. The United States and China, by far, lead the world in CO2 emissions, delivering 20% every of the earth’s whole output. The United States alone has failed to guide, given that it’s the high emitter of CO2 (tied with China) and has the bottom fraction of the world’s inhabitants of the highest 5 nations (5% in comparison with China’s 20%).

In order to guard the atmosphere and stop pointless acceleration of local weather change, the United States should progressively mitigate emissions and additional lead by instance for different nations. This ought to be completed, nevertheless, in a coordinated method that doesn’t low cost the present want to make use of oil and coal for financial restoration and sustaining world affect. This signifies that the institution of emissions controls and different environmental safeguards should be synchronized with the employment of sound different fuels, the development of latest applied sciences, the gradual retraction from imported oil, and the expansion of our financial system.

There are a number of examples of how well-intended emissions controls can result in surprising outcomes. Economically, for instance, the airline trade might take the toughest hit from carbon taxes due to the CO2 ranges which are emitted from jets. This signifies that both the airways might be compelled to make additional cuts that can end in much less enterprise, commerce, and commerce, or that the prices might be handed to prospects.

Environmentally, a current research of Colorado’s wind power program concluded that wind energy paradoxically causes extra emissions due to the intermittent “cycling” of coal vegetation that’s wanted to rebalance whole power within the grid. Still one other illustration is the place research reveal potential will increase in carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions associated to the large shift of the agriculture sector to rising bio-fuel crops. The level right here is that with no strategic understanding of how defending the atmosphere is interrelated and, therefore, balanced with the conservation, adaptation, and evolution of the U.S. power sector, the extra unintended penalties might consequence with unbiased, blanket environmental mandates.

Notwithstanding political beliefs, the not too long ago proposed American Power Act is an indication that the nation’s management is cognizant of the interrelationships between defending the atmosphere and sustaining the financial system throughout this monumental transformation. Within it, there are provisions for cleaner power growth, together with the incentives for the usage of nuclear energy, new parameters for safer off-shore drilling, and wise necessities for the retrofitting of coal energy vegetation. Acknowledging that change requires time, it additionally mandates plans and techniques for clear transportation and air pollution discount, and additional makes an attempt to broaden the scope of environmental stewardship to the worldwide stage. It even specifies which departments and companies are liable for the varied actions, plans, methods, and experiences to Congress. In essence, the act has many attributes that might kind part of the muse of the NESS.

Another important element of the Protect theme of the NESS should be a plan to develop complete capabilities for rapidly and successfully responding to future energy-related incidents and disasters. The response effort to the current Deepwater Horizon oil spill, for instance, reveals wholesale inadequacies of each authorities and personal sector capabilities and response plans. It not solely factors to inadequate prepared assets akin to containment booms, specialised boats, and backup “dome” units, however additional demonstrates how convoluted the coordination effort will be with no roadmap for planning and exercising these responses. The U.S. Government also needs to be ready to bolster personal corporations with further response capabilities ought to they lack the flexibility to successfully reply to an incident in a well timed method.

If the U.S. follows a logical path in direction of much less dependence on imported oil, then the present transformation of our power sector will contain extra offshore drilling and nuclear energy vegetation. Accordingly, it is just applicable to advance the safety of the environment in a strategic sense.


The closing theme of the excellent NESS is Evolve. In order to keep away from reliving the 1970s oil crises within the subsequent 20-30 years, there should be a deliberate highway map to renovate our infrastructure, transportation programs, residing communities, and human behaviors away from oil dependence. Only efficient evolution in these areas will produce enduring outcomes.

The main goal of Evolve beneath the NESS ought to be the transformation of U.S. infrastructure, energy-consuming programs, and folks to be much less reliant on oil. There are quite a few parts of infrastructure that should be upgraded or changed so as to foster power safety for the 21st century. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signified a terrific start line by authorizing over 113 billion {dollars} in direction of growing a sensible grid, enhancing native, state, and federal infrastructure, enhancing the federal automobile fleet, updating public transportation programs, offering tax credit for house house owners and renewable power corporations, and funding numerous incentives for analysis and growth. Such a considerable funding, nevertheless, ought to ultimately be guided by a holistic pathway for the themes of ESCAPE and never relegated to these governments and companies which are view this downside myopically. Spending and sequencing, consequently, should first be aimed on the most important power liabilities.

For instance, the alternative of coal fired energy vegetation with pure gasoline vegetation would produce electrical energy with a 3rd much less power required, whereas emitting 45 % much less CO2. Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) additionally has the potential to offset power calls for from coal and oil with cleaner burning gas, however requires the event of further receiving terminals so as to account for the present delta between provide and demand (15%) and the potential for future software within the transportation sector and different industries. Nuclear energy vegetation, as talked about earlier, produce much more electrical energy with fewer emissions.

Public transportation enhancements ought to rank above main freeway tasks, particularly highway expansions that espouse much more apathetic use of non-public transport in areas the place public transportation programs are considerable. The U.S. is drastically outdone by different developed nations in mass transit. London has the oldest system and strikes over 3.four million individuals daily. In Hong Kong, mass transit offers 90 % of all journey. On the opposite, 86 % of the U.S. workforce drives to work, averaging 51 minutes on the highway day by day.

Beyond infrastructure and transportation programs, there are a number of eclectic issues associated to the social dimension that must be included into the technique. Studies on future residing communities, for instance, might show to have resonant results on power consumption within the United States.

Two outstanding authors on power, Peter Tertzakian and Jeff Rubin, each write with placing similarity in regards to the evolution of residing circumstances sooner or later due to oil shortages. Tertzakian writes that sooner or later we’d see the event of “Triple E Villages” that “combine ecology, energy efficiency, and are electronically enabled.” In these villages meals might be produced regionally, photo voltaic and wind energy will present semi-autonomous power sources, and incomes might be earned via our on-line world. Jeff Rubin believes that necessity will drive us to smaller communes centered on meals sources akin to farms or multistory greenhouses (“Farmscrapers”), due to the diminished availability of imported meals and items. These concepts might appear to be a little bit too radical to method from the political pulpit, however they nonetheless level to an space that should evolve over time if we’re to mitigate among the root causes of steadily growing power consumption.


There is just no silver bullet over the horizon and the world can not maintain the projected ranges of oil consumption over the following few a long time. During this era, the world will witness flashpoints over oil that might be characterised by elevated battle, terrorism, piracy, local weather change, petro-political coercion, and financial recession. In growing nations, the gradual deprivation of this useful resource might be manifested by increased poverty charges, hunger, declining infrastructure and gross home product, and the potential collapse of governments.

World leaders should intervene now by setting the strategic course for diminished oil consumption and the U.S. ought to prepared the ground with a mannequin technique for power safety. This monumental job can’t be completed, nevertheless, by only some brave elected officers. It requires a unity of effort amongst the federal government, personal enterprise, and the American individuals. The nation won’t understand the imaginative and prescient of a safer atmosphere and a nation freed from oil dependence via band-aid options, akin to brief time period tax credit, extra inexperienced jobs, and hybrid automobiles. This can solely be completed by bringing the at the moment diffuse efforts into concord with the implementation of a National Energy Security Strategy (NESS).

The NESS can present the imaginative and prescient, framework, and pathway to a safer future and be sure that all stakeholders are guided by one complete effort. The NESS ought to deal with all traces of effort embodied in ESCAPE by setting goals and milestones that can rigorously mitigate the tensions and unintended penalties of range piped efforts.

The Department of Energy ought to have the lead position in growing the technique and coordinating the efforts. After all, President Carter created the division in 1977 following the nationwide power disaster to supervise the National Energy Plan. This might require a metamorphosis of the division so as to broaden its capability to do strategic planning and to guide the intergovernmental, interagency, and multinational coordination.

The way forward for this grand nation and its youngsters rests within the arms of the leaders and residents who’re making essential selections at present. It shouldn’t be so essential to linger on the actual fact this nation propelled itself to hegemony via the industrious use of oil. Instead, it’s now time to focus in direction of remodeling the American manner right into a safer, extra sustainable, and affluent society.

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” – George Bernard Shaw

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Source by Jeffrey Connelly

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