April 21, 2017
Capitol Update

In this issue:


On April 25, a number of ASME members will be on Capitol Hill as part of the multi-society Engineering Public Policy Symposium, an event that ASME organizes for the engineering community that brings together the leadership of 44 engineering societies to discuss topics of interest like the research and development priorities of Congress and the new Administration. The event is made possible by a grant from the United Engineering Foundation and the support of ASME and lead sponsors: AIChE, AIME, ASCE, and IEEE-USA. A detailed summary of the Symposium will be provided in the May 5th edition of Capitol Update.

As part of the event, engineering leaders will be going on Congressional visits in the afternoon with their Members of Congress. To follow the activity of the ASME leaders going on visits, search for #ASMEHillDay on Twitter. To learn more about how you can participate in ASME Government Relations, please visit: ppec.asme.org


Secretary of Energy Rick Perry took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony this week to mark the opening of Petra Nova, the world’s largest post-combustion carbon capture project, which was completed on-schedule and on-budget. The large-scale demonstration project, located at the W.A. Parish power plant in Thompsons, Texas, is a joint venture between NRG Energy (NRG) and JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corporation (JX).

“I commend all those who contributed to this major achievement,” said Secretary Perry. “While the Petra Nova project will certainly benefit Texas, it also demonstrates that clean coal technologies can have a meaningful and positive impact on the Nation’s energy security and economic growth.”

Funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and originally conceived as a 60-megawatt electric (MWe) capture project, the project sponsors expanded the design to capture emissions from 240 MWe of generation at the Houston-area power plant, quadrupling the size of the capture project without additional federal investment. During performance testing, the system demonstrated a carbon capture rate of more than 90 percent.

At its current level of operation, Petra Nova will capture more than 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per day, which will be used for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) at the West Ranch Oil Field. The project is expected to boost production at West Ranch from 500 barrels per day to approximately 15,000 barrels per day. It is estimated that the field holds 60 million barrels of oil recoverable from EOR operations.

The successful commencement of Petra Nova operations also represents an important step in advancing the commercialization of technologies that capture CO2 from the flue gas of existing power plants. Its success could become the model for future coal-fired power generation facilities. The addition of CO2 capture capability to the existing fleet of power plants could support CO2 pipeline infrastructure development and drive domestic EOR opportunities.

More information is available at: http://fossilfuel.energy-business-review.com/news/nrgs-petra-nova-carbon-capture-facility-begins-operations-in-texas-5788068


The 2017 Trade Policy Agenda and 2016 Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreements Program were recently submitted to the Congress, revealing some of the Trump Administration’s trade policy priorities.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), which acts as the principal spokesman of the President on international trade, reports that the Administration believes a fundamental change in direction of U.S. trade policy is needed in order to “expand trade in a way that is freer and fairer for all Americans.” The Administration plans to use bilateral negotiations rather than multilateral trade agreements to reach these goals as well as renegotiating and revising trade agreements when these goals are not being met.

Key objectives of the new trade policy include:

  • Ensuring that U.S. workers and businesses have a fair opportunity to compete for business – both in the domestic U.S. market and in other key markets around the world.
  • Breaking down unfair trade barriers in other markets that block U.S. exports, including exports of agricultural goods.
  • Maintaining a balanced policy that looks out for the interests of all segments of the U.S. economy, including manufacturing, agriculture, and services, as well as small businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • Ensuring that U.S. owners of intellectual property (IP) have a full and fair opportunity to use and profit from their IP.
  • Strictly enforcing U.S. trade laws to prevent the U.S. market from being distorted by dumped and/or subsidized imports that harm domestic industries and workers.
  • Enforcing labor provisions in existing agreements and enforcing the prohibition against the importation and sale of goods made with forced labor.
  • Resisting efforts by other countries – or members of international bodies like the World Trade Organization (WTO) – to advance interpretations that would weaken the rights and benefits of, or increase the obligations under, the various trade agreements to which the United States is a party. Updating current trade agreements as necessary to reflect changing times and market conditions.
  • Ensuring that United States trade policy contributes to the economic strength and manufacturing base necessary to maintain – and improve – our national security.
  • Strongly advocating for all U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, services providers, and businesses, large and small – to assure the fairest possible treatment of American interests in the U.S. market and in other markets around the world.

To review the report, go to: http://bit.ly/2mvcLGq


A recent Congressional Research Service report delves into the definition of traditional manufacturing and how it has changed.

Current federal laws written to support manufacturing in the United States have defined manufacturing as the physical transformation of goods through methods such as molding, cutting, and assembly. Where these physical transformation activities took place has determined the associated benefits, preferences, or penalties imposed.

What is currently considered federal manufacturing is based on two premises. The first being that each manufactured product has a single country of origin based on whether it was made in United States or imported. However, this does not fit within the new global value chains being used that combine raw materials, components, services, and intellectual property from multiple countries into a single product. The second premise is that the act of physical transformation is what creates economic benefits. These two premises may be insufficient as there are a variety of other activities related to making a product that may be substantially conducted in the United States, but do not count toward the determination of “Made in the United States.” Conversely, a good may be treated as U.S.-made if significant parts are of U.S. origin and if the good was transformed in the United States, even though all the research, design, software development, and other nonphysical activities related to its production occurred in other countries.

The report also highlights how the traditional classification of a manufacturing worker has changed so that more people whose jobs are in not in the physical transformation of the good—but in providing business services, software development, and after-sales service—are encroaching into this classification.  The definition of who is a manufacturing worker has broadened so much that government policies cannot as easily support manufacturing-related value added and employment in the United States.

The full report is available at: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44755.pdf


The US Navy recently hosted a 3D Print-a-thon to showcase the latest innovations and technology. 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is playing a significant part in America’s innovation ecosystem. Outside of the civil world, the military has found ways to use it. For example, the Navy’s engineering and science community is actively expanding its use of 3D printing. In fact, a 3D printer was installed on one of its ships, the USS Essex, to see how the technology would handle extended time at sea. It is being used to print out parts that were used to construct and assemble custom drones.

At the aforementioned Print-A-Thon, twenty different naval organizations gathered to see examples how this technology was being used to make entire components or major parts of larger components, such as antennas and unmanned vehicle customized propellers. In one example, sailors reverse engineered and manufactured replacement electric motor cooling fans for a $1.39 per fan, compared to the $375 open purchase price.

“Additive Manufacturing is a potential game-changing technology for naval warfare,” said the event's keynote speaker, Dr. John Burrow, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development, test and evaluation (DASN RDT&E). Through the Mobile Fab Lab, sailors and civilian personnel can transform their innovative ideas into designs and rapid prototypes that can be certified for wider Fleet use, thereby saving money and time.

For more information, please visit: http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=99371


A new Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, Grants Work in a Congressional Office, provides insights into how Members of Congress interact with constituents seeking grants.

First, a Congressional office will determine its priorities regarding the level of assistance to give constituents from providing basic information on grants programs to actively advocating for projects. Depending on the office, there may be dedicated grants staff located in the Washington, DC or the district office who can assist grant seekers in gaining some understanding of the grants process. These staff often develop working relationships with grants officers in federal and state departments and agencies and have knowledge of other sources of nongovernment funding, such as private sector or foundation support, especially in the current environment of potential reductions in federal programs. Private sources can be found at Foundationcenter.org and the Council on Foundations, which is directed at local projects.

Constituents can also visit the website of their Member of Congress, which may provide links to grants sources, such as the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), Grants.gov, and the Congressional Research Service (CRS) web page, Grants and Federal Domestic Assistance, which is updated automatically. An example of a Member’s grants site can be found at: https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/grants-and-federal-domestic-assistance

State by state funding is also available at the Grantsmanship Center: http://tgci.com/funding-sources.

To review the report, go to: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL34035.pdf

Visit the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/ for daily news and policy developments, including the following:

*Secretary of Energy Rick Perry Press Statement on the G-7 Energy Ministerial
*SME and NASA’s HUNCH Partner to Engage Youth in Advanced Manufacturing
*Toyota Shows Robotic Leg Brace to Help Paralyzed People Walk
*Fostering Integrity in Research


ASME Government Relations
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20036
Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations

  • Melissa Carl covers public policy-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and diversity issues for ASME. She can be reached at carlm@asme.org
  • Paul Fakes covers public policy-related energy, standards and environmental issues for ASME. He can be reached at fakesp@asme.org
  • Roy Chrobocinski covers public policy-related research and development (R&D) and manufacturing issues for ASME. He can be reached at chrobocinski@asme.org