April 5, 2019
Capitol Update

In this issue:

ASME Government Relations will be convening the 16th Annual Engineering Public Policy Symposium in Washington, DC the week of April 7th, so ASME Capitol Update will not be issued next week. The next edition of ASME Capitol Update will be issued on April 19th.


The House Committee on Foreign Affairs recently held a hearing on “How Climate Change Threatens U.S. National Security”. Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA), chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment opened the briefing by noting that climate change and its impact on national security is something the government has been monitoring for decades. He backed up the seriousness with which the government views this issue by asserting, “It’s absolutely imperative that we grapple with the challenge of climate change.”

While the focus of the hearing was on how climate change is affecting U.S. national security with other foreign players, witness Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn, USN (Ret), Former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment also made a point of noting that here in the U.S., the effects of climate change have been felt very deeply by the armed forces and had a direct impact on military installations. He explained that increased extreme weather such as flooding and wildfires had prompted the evacuations of several bases located around the country including Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Point Mugu in North Carolina.

Looking globally, Vice Adm. McGinn noted that conflicts due to climate change will increasingly draw U.S. military intervention. “We are increasingly seeing the prospect of conflict driven by control of rivers, and the possibility of one nation trying to limit water to another.” Additionally, McGinn noted the rise of climate-driven unemployment, displacement and migration will have an effect on national security, “creating a pool of prospective recruits for violent, extremist organizations.”

Along with Vice Adm. McGinn, Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Security Sherri Goodman also testified. She opened her testimony asserting that “While climate discussions have been polarized, there has been one exception: security.” Goodman also touched on the issue of shared resources and access to water and the impact this will have in drawing outside military intervention. Goodman also noted that the arctic is an area of concern. As the ice melts and more of the arctic becomes accessible, this could “embolden our adversaries” to become more aggressive and pose a greater threat to U.S. national security down the line.

To view an archived version of the webcast in full, click here: https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/2019/4/how-climate-change-threatens-u-s-national-security


With the Senate’s recent vote on the Green New Deal, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) recently introduced a new proposal he dubbed the “New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy.” Sen. Alexander is a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.

Sen. Alexander’s proposal is a five year project comprised of ten grand challenges. These challenges serve as building blocks that Alexander asserts would allow the U.S. to develop and use cleaner, cheaper energy. Alexander also states that achieving these ten grand challenges will strengthen U.S. research and development capabilities and reinstate the U.S. as a global leader.

“Meeting these Grand Challenges would create breakthroughs in advanced nuclear reactors, natural gas, carbon capture, better batteries, greener buildings, electric vehicles, cheaper solar and fusion,” Lamar explained. “To provide the tools to create these breakthroughs, the federal government should double its funding for energy research and keep the United States number one in the world in advanced computing. This strategy takes advantage of the United States’ secret weapon, our extraordinary capacity for basic research, especially at our 17 national laboratories. It will strengthen our economy and raise our family incomes.”

These ten grand challenges are:

  • Advanced Nuclear
  • Natural Gas
  • Carbon Capture
  • Better Batteries
  • Greener Buildings
  • Electric Vehicles
  • Cheaper Solar
  • Fusion
  • Advanced Computing
  • Double Energy Research Funding

For further information on Sen. Alexander’s new proposal, click here: https://www.alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2019/3/one-republican-s-response-to-climate-change-a-new-manhattan-project-for-clean-energy-10-grand-challenges-for-the-next-five-years


The Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced several new funding opportunity announcements (FOA).

The first FOA is for up to $26.1 million to drive innovative industry-led technology solutions to advance the marine and hydrokinetics (MHK) industry and increase hydropower’s ability to serve as a flexible grid resource. The FOA is led by the Water Power Technologies Office (WPTO) and seeks projects that strive to make hydropower and marine energy a more affordable energy source, strengthens U.S. manufacturing competitiveness, and builds on current DOE energy storage initiatives that aim to strengthen the electric grid.

Under this FOA are four areas of interest under which proposals can be submitted: Hydropower Operational Flexibility; Low Head Hydropower and In-Stream Hydrokinetic Technologies; Advancing Wave Energy Device Design; and Marine Energy Centers Research Infrastructure Upgrades.

Proposal concept paper submissions are due by 5pm EST on May 13, full applications are due by 5pm EST on June 9.

For further information and to submit a proposal, click here: https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/Default.aspx#FoaId65c1ef13-e519-465c-86f1-70ad805ad1ec

The second FOA recently released by DOE is for up to $20 million for cooperative agreements that will aid in the acceleration of the deployment of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). These projects will support the Office of Fossil Energy’s Carbon Storage Program.

In this FOA, DOE will award cooperative agreements to research and development projects that will help address the storage and transport issues. Under this FOA, DOE seeks proposals that will advance R&D and respond to the CCUS transportation and storage issues by:

  • Addressing key technical challenges
  • Facilitating data collection, sharing, and analysis
  • Evaluating regional infrastructure
  • Promoting regional technology transfer

For further information and to submit a proposal, click here: https://www.fedconnect.net/FedConnect/default.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fFedConnect%2f%3fdoc%3dDE-FOA-0002000%26agency%3dDOE&doc=DE-FOA-0002000&agency=DOE


The National Science and Technology Council recently released a new report detailing its plans to increase American resilience against the effects of space weather. The National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan identifies key and objectives to bolster the U.S.’s defenses against weather and other events that take place in space that will have an effect, ancillary or otherwise, on national security as well as everyday operations.

“The focus of space weather activities must evolve as the Nation reinvigorates its human space exploration program, reinforces the importance of space-based capabilities for critical national functions and security, and enhances its overall resilience,” Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Kelvin Droegemeier notes in the report.

The strategy provides a set of three objectives, each supported by a set of high-level goals that will help prepare the U.S. against the adverse effects of weather in space. Those objectives are:

  • Enhance the Protection of National Security, Homeland Security, and Commercial Assets and Operations against the Effects of Space Weather;
  • Develop and Disseminate Accurate and Timely Space Weather Characterization and Forecasts; and
  • Establish Plans and Procedures for Responding to and Recovering from Space Weather Events.

To view the report in full, click here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/National-Space-Weather-Strategy-and-Action-Plan-2019.pdf


Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), along with a bipartisan group of senate colleagues recently reintroduced legislation to increase nuclear energy innovation, and make sure that advanced reactors will provide clean, safe, affordable, and reliable power to satisfy the country’s needs, as well as globally. The Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA) seeks to reestablish the U.S. as a global leader in nuclear energy and will bring together innovators from both the public and private sectors to develop next-generation advanced reactor concepts.

The bill covers a wide swath of topics under the subject matter, including:

  • Advanced Nuclear Reactor Research and Development Goals;
  • Nuclear Energy Strategic Plan;
  • Advanced Nuclear Fuel Security Programs; and a
  • University Nuclear Leadership Program.

“As we seek to maintain electric reliability, keep energy prices affordable, and address climate change, nuclear power stands out as one of our very best options,” Murkowski said. “We once led the world in nuclear energy, but have surrendered that position to Russia and China. It is imperative that we reverse that trend and develop advanced nuclear technologies domestically. Our bipartisan bill will provide the tools, resources, and partnerships necessary to reestablish U.S. global leadership, and I thank my colleagues for sponsoring it with me.”

To view the bill in full, click here: https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=files.serve&File_id=0C3B0D2E-1716-4BAE-A938-F5CC6F86CACA


The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering Division of Information and Intelligent Systems and the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences have partnered up with Amazon to commit up to $10 million each in research grants over the next three years that will focus on fairness in Artificial Intelligence (AI). As AI capabilities grow more refined, the economic, security and social welfare benefits it AI brings with it will also grow. But it is also important that these systems be trustworthy and demonstrate transparency, accountability and fairness in their operations.

“We are excited to announce this new collaboration with Amazon to fund research focused on fairness in AI,” said Jim Kurose, NSF’s head for Computer and Information Science and Engineering. “This program will support research related to the development and implementation of trustworthy AI systems that incorporate transparency, fairness, and accountability into the design from the beginning.”

The grants seek computational research focused on fairness in AI with specific topics of research including:

  • Transparency;
  • Explainability;
  • Accountability;
  • Potential adverse biases and effects;
  • Mitigation strategies;
  • Validation of fairness; and
  • Considerations of inclusivity.

Due to the inherently interdisciplinary nature of AI, NSF and Amazon are looking for a wide range of perspectives in these projects, as well as projects that are able to bring together multiple perspectives. While Amazon will partially fund the projects, it will have no role is selecting proposals to be awarded funding. Looking ahead to the future, NSF and Amazon state that they plan to continue the program and seek further proposals in 2020 and 2021.

All applicants must submit a letter of intent by 5pm on May 10, followed by a full proposal no later than 5pm on June 25.

For further information and to submit an application, click here: https://nsf.gov/pubs/2019/nsf19571/nsf19571.htm?org=NSF

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