April 1, 2016
Capitol Update

In this issue:


On March 17th, ASME organized an Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Summit in Tampa, FL to focus on the current and near-term, public-private, industry/university/government research and workforce development partnership opportunities that have been taking hold in the array of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institutes. The event also provided time for attendees to engage and network with Institute leaders.

After opening remarks, the event proceeded with three panel discussions, which included all NNMI Institute Executive Directors and were moderated by their federal counterparts.

The first panel discussion focused on “What Does Institute Membership Mean?” Among the first questions asked was, “What is the number one return you’re delivering to industry members?”  Membership provides access to new talent and ideas. Companies want access to people, and students are receiving valuable training working in the institutes. It was widely agreed on during the panel that industry, academia, and government all benefit from student involvement in the institutes, seeing as how today’s students are tomorrow’s employees. Another topic of discussion was, “How are all the institutes working together?” Since the institutes are just getting underway, one of the biggest ways institutes have worked together so far is with sharing lessons learned. When new institutes are formed, they are now able to avoid mistakes learned early-on by existing institutes, making it quicker to get an institute up and running.

The second panel focused on “Managing Project Calls and Intellectual Property.” This panel discussed that what makes NNMI institutes different from those in other countries is the U.S.’s ability to discuss risk factors openly and decide what will be deployable. The goal of the institutes is to get products to market more efficiently by employing the latest technology, but because technology is changing so rapidly, standards have been unable to keep up. During the discussion, it was said that standards in the manufacturing space are like the “wild-wild-West” and that technology is changing far too quickly for standards to keep pace.

This discussion surrounding the role manufacturing plays in the advancement of technology and academia continued with the third panel, which addressed “Education & Workforce Development.” Each institute was challenged to identify engineering disciplines besides mechanical engineering that would benefit from requiring hands-on manufacturing in the curriculum.  All panelists agreed to work with ABET in continuing the discussion on why manufacturing should be a requirement for all fields of engineering.

Detailed information about the summit and its speakers is available at http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/asme-hosts-the-first-annual-advanced-manufacturing-innovation-summit-featuring-all-seven-nnmi-institute-executive-directors-as-panelists/


The EPA announced this week that it has launched a new voluntary partnership program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program builds upon the Natural Gas STAR Program, a flexible, voluntary partnership between EPA and the U.S. oil and natural gas industry that focuses on achieving cost-effective methane emission reductions from natural gas operations.

Methane is upwards of 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in warming the planet, making the program an important part of the EPA’s greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts. The voluntary Methane Challenge program complements EPA’s regulatory efforts with the goal of reducing methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent by 2025.

The Methane Challenge Program will provide partner companies with a platform to make company-wide commitments to cut emissions from sources within their operations by implementing a suite of best management practices within five years. Transparency is a fundamental part of the program, and partner achievements will be tracked by submitting annual data directly to EPA. Partner companies have committed to replacing or rehabilitating cast iron and unprotected steel distribution mains, and to reducing methane emissions from pipeline blowdowns, among other activities.

Another key outcome of the Global Methane Forum is the re-chartering of the Global Methane Initiative (GMI) for the next five years. In addition, the Forum has provided an opportunity for the GMI, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, and the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Europe to collaborate in strategically aligning their methane mitigation activities. The GMI is a partnership of 43 countries, including the United States, aimed at achieving cost-effective methane reductions across five sectors: municipal solid waste, wastewater, agriculture, coal, and the oil and gas sector. Together, GMI’s 43 partner countries account for approximately 70 percent of global methane emissions from targeted sources. Since 2004, partner countries avoided nearly 350 MMTCO2e in methane emissions from these sources.

For more information, visit: http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy/


Late last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4755, the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act by a strong bipartisan vote of 380 to 3. The INSPIRE Women Act calls on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator to use programs within NASA to put young women and girls on a course toward STEM careers that will further help the space program and American businesses. 

The INSPIRE Women Act authorizes the NASA Administrator to encourage women and girls to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, known as the STEM fields, and to pursue careers that will further advance America’s space science and exploration efforts through support of initiatives such as NASA GIRLS and NASA BOYS; Aspire-Inspire; and the Summer Institute in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Research.

To review the bill, go to http://thomas.loc.gov, and search by bill number.


Building on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) ongoing efforts to modernize the grid and accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz recently announced that DOE will participate in the development of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line Project (Clean Line), a major clean energy infrastructure project.

The Clean Line project will tap abundant, low-cost wind generation resources in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandle regions to deliver up to 4,000 megawatts of wind power via a 705-mile direct current transmission line — enough energy to power more than 1.5 million homes in the mid-South and Southeast United States.

This marks the first use of Congressional authority conferred to DOE as part of Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 with the objective of promoting transmission development. Congress passed this provision when it was becoming clear that the nation’s transmission infrastructure was beginning to show its age and needed modernization. Congress recognized the need for a modern and resilient grid that could accommodate increasing demands for power with newly available resources. Based on our thorough review of the Clean Line project, it satisfies the goals for which Congress established DOE’s authority.

The project will, if built, address infrastructure challenges outlined in the 2015 Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), which focused on Energy Transmission, Storage and Distribution Infrastructure. The QER acknowledged the importance of establishing transmission lines to facilitate remote generation development of renewable energy. The QER found that new long-distance transmission capacity like Clean Line has the potential to enable lower-carbon electricity, enhance system reliability and operate at a reasonable cost to consumers.

The project is expected to create supply chain jobs in Arkansas and Oklahoma to build the new infrastructure that will be constructed, operated and maintained in both states. Clean Line has announced a $300 million agreement with Pelco, an Oklahoma company, to build the project’s tubular steel transmission structures. Clean Line has also identified three Arkansas companies to build infrastructure that supports the project, such as transmission conductors and glass insulators.

For more information about the Clean Line project, including the Summary of Findings, which explains DOE’s decision at length, the Participation Agreement, the National Environmental Policy Act Record of Decision and more, visit: http://energy.gov/oe/services/electricity-policy-coordination-and-implementation/transmission-planning/section-1222-0


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released the agency’s first annual analysis of how changes in America’s energy profile are affecting national employment in multiple energy sectors. By using a combination of existing energy employment data and a new survey of energy sector employers, the inaugural U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) provides a broad view of the national current energy employment landscape.

USEER examines four sectors of the economy -- electric power generation and fuels; transmission, wholesale distribution, and storage; energy efficiency; and motor vehicles -- which cumulatively account for almost all of the United States’ energy production and distribution system and roughly 70 percent of U.S. energy consumption. By looking at such a wide portion of the energy economy, USEER can provide the public and policy makers with a clearer picture of how changes in energy technology, systems, and usage are affecting the economy and creating or displacing jobs.

Some key findings of the report include:

  • 3.64 million Americans work in traditional energy industries, including production, transmission, distribution, and storage.
  • Of those, 600,000 employees contribute to the production of low-carbon electricity, including renewable energy, nuclear energy and low emission natural gas.
  • An additional 1.9 million Americans are employed, in whole or in part, in energy efficiency.
  • Roughly 30 percent of the 6.8 million employees in the U.S. construction industry work on energy or building energy efficiency projects.

The report also found several energy industries with projected increases in new jobs. Responding to the USEER survey of employers, the energy efficiency sector predicted hiring rates of 14 percent in 2016, or almost 260,000 new hires. Projected hiring rates were at 5 percent within the electric power generation and fuels sector, reflecting overall growth despite a loss of employment in 2015 in the oil and natural gas extraction sectors. Transmission, wholesale distribution, and storage firms anticipate 4 percent employment growth in 2016. Solar energy firms predicted 15 percent job growth over the next year.

Yet even as the report found the opportunity for job growth in many energy sectors, over 70 percent of all employers surveyed found it “difficult or very difficult” to hire new employees with the needed skills.

A copy of the full report is available at: http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy/


A new report from the Manhattan Institute warns U.S. policy makers of the costs of adopting E.U. style carbon reduction strategies. The report argues that U.S. policymakers should be required to conduct rigorous cost-benefit analyses, as well as calculations that show how projected emissions reductions policies will affect global temperatures.

Key findings from the report show that:

  • Between 2005, when the E.U. adopted its Emissions Trading Scheme, and 2014, residential electricity rates in the E.U. increased by 63 percent, on average. In Germany, those rates increased by 78 percent; in Spain, by 111 percent; and in the U.K., by 133 percent. Over the same period, residential rates in the U.S. rose by 32 percent.
  • During 2005–14, residential electricity rates in Germany, which has the most aggressive support for renewables, increased by 13 cents, to 40 cents per kilowatt-hour—an increase larger than the average cost of residential electricity in the U.S. (12.5 cents).
  • E.U. countries that have intervened the most in their energy markets—Germany, Spain, and the U.K.—have seen their electricity costs increase the fastest. During 2008–12, those countries spent about $52 billion on interventions in their energy markets.
  • Emissions reductions achieved by the E.U. since 2005 have been greatly exceeded by increases in emissions in the developing world. During 2005–14, the E.U. reduced its carbon-dioxide emissions by 600 million tons per year. Over that same period, the combined emissions of four developing countries—China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil—increased by 4.7 billion tons per year, or nearly eight times the reduction achieved in the European Union.
  • Bans or restrictions on hydraulic fracturing and, therefore, on natural gas production have made European countries more dependent on imported energy and have contributed to higher electricity prices.

The full report is available at: http://www.manhattan-institute.org/sites/default/files/R-RB-0316.pdf

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