April 7, 2014
Capitol Update

In this issue:

 

HOUSE BUDGET CHAIRMAN RYAN INTRODUCES REPUBLICAN FY 2015 BUDGET

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has introduced the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 House Republican budget. The proposal cuts $5.1 trillion in government spending. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the proposed deficit reduction would balance the budget in ten years and starts paying down the debt.

The CBO analysis may be read at http://cbo.gov/publication/45211

Key Facts on the Budget proposal include the following:

  • Within ten years, the budget reaches balance and begins to pay down the debt;
  • It cuts government spending by $5.1 trillion over the next ten years;
  • It strengthens important priorities like Medicare and national security;
  • It repeals the Affordable Care Act;
  • It calls for reforms to repair the broken safety net and expand opportunity for all; and,
  • It overhauls the tax code and promotes American energy security.

To read the fiscal year 15 House Republican Budget, go to http://budget.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=374739#Comments,

For additional information, go to http://budget.house.gov/fy2015/

Meanwhile, Democrats on the House Budget Committee offered their own analysis of the proposal. To read that analysis, visit http://democrats.budget.house.gov/issue/republican-budget-fy-2015

The White House issued its own statement on the Republican FY 2015 budget which may be read at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/01/statement-press-secretary-house-republican-budget

 

COMPETES STEM EDUCATION REPORT SUBMITTED TO CONGRESS

As discussed in the March 31st version of Capitol Update, Dr. John Holdren, the President’s Science Advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology, testified in front of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on the Administration’s FY15 budget for the federal science and engineering agencies.

While the majority of his testimony focused on research and development (R&D), he announced the release of the Administration’s report to Congress on the current federal STEM programs, which is required by the America COMPETES Reauthorization of 2010. While this is the first report of its kind, the Administration released a STEM strategic plan last May. The strategic plan was met with some opposition from the STEM community, and the Administration took into consideration some of the objections voiced for this report.

In his testimony, Dr. Holdren said, “The President’s 2015 Budget maintains a strong commitment to STEM education and supports key principles from the 2014 Budget proposal and the goals of the Five-Year Strategic Plan, while making important changes that reflect input from the STEM education community and from the Committee. One change is that the Administration is not requesting a transfer of funding between agencies. As a result, some agencies have had a portion of their STEM education funds partially restored compared to the 2014 Budget proposal. This means, for example, that funding is provided to NASA, NIH, and NOAA to ensure that the STEM-education community can take advantage of these agencies’ respective areas of expertise.”

Dr. Holdren continued by saying, “Agencies will focus on internal consolidations and eliminations, while funding their most effective programs. As a result, the 2015 Budget continues to reduce fragmentation, building on the substantial number of internal consolidations and eliminations that agencies began implementing in 2013 and 2014.”

To review Dr. Holdren’s testimony, please visit http://science.house.gov/hearing/full-committee-hearing-review-president-s-fiscal-year-2015-budget-request-science-agencies

A copy of the new STEM report can be found at
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/STEM-ED_FY15_Final.pdf

 

ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES CLIMATE DATA INITIATIVE: INCLUDES PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS

The Administration has announced plans for a Climate Data Initiative as part of the Climate Action Plan. The Initiative is intended to strengthen resilience to climate change while increasing the accessibility of government climate data.  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have also introduced an Innovation Challenge on coastal vulnerability and preparedness.  The Geological Survey (USGS), the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency released a collection of datasets relating to national infrastructure and geographical features. The announcement also comes with commitments from the private sector from companies including Esri, Intel, Google, and Microsoft. 

Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, emphasized the need for preparation and the development of resilience methods to handle climate events.  He described http://climate.data.gov as a resource for companies, communities and the public to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change.  Initially in the pilot phase, the data will be related to coastal flooding and sea level rise.  

Industry partners will assist in the development of software tools that will serve the planning and emergency management sectors.  Jack Dangermond, Founder and CEO of Esri, described the capabilities of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and promoted the use of GIS as a framework for providing climate information to the community of users including to first responders.  Kathryn Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere of the Department of Commerce, highlighted that while NOAA produces 20 terabytes of data daily, only approximately 2 terabytes are actually used.  Under this new initiative, she hopes that more of NOAA's data can provide information to the broad community and can lead to subsequent actions to combat climate change.

 

SENATORS LANDRIEU, MURKOWSKI ASK INSPECTOR GENERAL TO EXAMINE LEAKS OF GRID VULNERABILITIES

U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have called on the Department of Energy’s inspector general to examine the leak of sensitive internal Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) information on potential physical vulnerabilities of the nation’s electric grid.
 
“Recent reports in the Wall Street Journal about grid security were shocking in their detail and appear to have been based upon highly sensitive, narrowly distributed FERC documents that may have pinpointed vulnerabilities of the electric grid,” the Senators wrote in the letter to DOE Inspector General Gregory Freidman. “In the wrong hands, such documents potentially could provide a roadmap for those who would seek to harm the nation by intentionally causing one or more power blackouts.”
 
Landrieu and Murkowski, the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, requested the inspector general examine the legal or regulatory obligations of current and former FERC commissioners and employees to protect non-public information.

The full text of the letter is available on the energy committee’s website

 

HOUSE SCIENCE COMMITTEE: NASA'S PRIORITY SHOULD BE SPACE EXPLORATION

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr., to examine the Obama administration’s Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015) budget and its priorities. Members on both sides of the aisle raised numerous concerns with the priorities represented in the President’s proposal that cuts NASA’s funding by $185 million.

The President’s budget again seeks to fund an Asteroid Retrieval Mission (ARM), a mission that experts and Congress have sharply criticized. Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) highlighted testimony before the Committee by NASA Advisory Council Chairman, Dr. Steve Squyres, who said, “I see no obvious connection between [ARM] and any of the technologies or capabilities that are required for Martian exploration.”

Members questioned the Obama administration’s commitment to human spaceflight. Congress has made clear that the Space Launch System (SLS) is a top priority of the Human Exploration program, yet for the third year in a row the administration has reduced the budget for this vital asset. The President’s budget seeks a reduction of $219 million for launch vehicle development.  While over the last seven years, NASA’s Earth Science Division funding has increased over 63 percent.

For additional information on the hearing, including witness testimony, visit the Committee’s website at http://science.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-space-review-national-aeronautics-and-space-administration-budget-fiscal-year

 

DOE ANNOUNCES $6.5M FUNDING OPPORTUNITY FOR WAVE ENERGY CONVERTER (WEC) PRIZE INITIATIVE

The Department of Energy's (DOE) Water Power Program is seeking a Prize Administrator with expertise in prize competitions to collaborate with DOE, technical experts, and a wave tank testing facility in developing and implementing the Wave Energy Converter (WEC) Prize.

The WEC Prize competition aims to attract innovative ideas from developers new to the industry and next generation ideas from existing developers by offering a monetary prize purse and providing an opportunity for tank testing and evaluation of scaled WEC prototypes. The Program envisions that this competition will achieve game-changing performance enhancements to WEC devices, establishing a pathway to sweeping cost reductions at a commercial scale.

Administration of the WEC Prize will include: prize development, implementation of the WEC Prize competition stages (e.g. design, build, and test and evaluation), and post-competition publicity and evaluation of impact of the WEC Prize.

The full solicitation can be found here: https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/#FoaIdb90bb713-09f9-48d4-ae03-37263f4b0c5a

Please note that any questions related to the funding opportunity must be submitted to WECFOA979@go.doe.gov

 

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ANNOUNCES FIRST QUADRENNIAL ENERGY REVIEW PUBLIC MEETING

The Department of Energy (DOE) has released information on the first six public meetings to collect stakeholder input into the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER). As the Secretariat for the QER Task Force, DOE will hold a series of meetings to discuss and receive comments on issues related to the development of a comprehensive strategy for the infrastructure needed to transport, transmit and deliver energy to consumers.  Other federal agencies will also join these meetings.

The QER, officially launched by President Obama in January, is co-chaired by the White House Domestic Policy Council and Office of Science and Technology Policy, and includes representation from all relevant executive departments and agencies. DOE is playing a key role in development of the QER by providing policy analysis and modeling, and coordinating stakeholder engagement.

The first of these stakeholder and public engagement meetings is scheduled for 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Friday, April 11, 2014, at the U.S. Capital Visitor's Center in the Congressional Auditorium. The meeting will focus on infrastructure resilience and vulnerabilities, including cyber and physical threats, climate, and interdependencies.

The nation's current infrastructure is increasingly challenged by transformations in energy supply, markets, and patterns of end use; issues of ageing and capacity; impacts of climate change; and cyber and physical threats. The QER will serve as a roadmap to help address these challenges.

Details for the next five QER stakeholder public meetings are still being finalized, but will include a meetings on infrastructure constraints in New England, to be held in Hartford, CT; infrastructure constraints related to Bakken, to be held in North Dakota; electricity transmission storage and distribution in the west, to be held in Portland, OR; petroleum product transmission and distribution, including carbon dioxide and enhanced oil recovery, to be held in Louisiana; and rail, barge, and truck transportation, to be held in Chicago.
 

The Federal Register Notice, which contains additional information about the meeting and other ways to submit public comment, is available HERE.

 

The articles contained in Capitol Update are not positions of ASME or any of its sub-entities, unless specifically noted as such. This publication is designed to inform ASME members about issues of concern being debated and discussed in the halls of congress, in the states and in the federal agencies.

 

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