August 19, 2016
Capitol Update

In this issue:


EPA Science Advisory Board Releases Assessment of Water Quality Study

The EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) has released its response to a request from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD) to review and provide advice on several scientific questions associated with the EPA’s draft Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources.

The EPA developed the draft Assessment Report in response to a request in 2009 from the U.S. Congress, which urged the EPA to examine the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources.

The draft water quality study, issued in June 2015, initially found that while hydraulic fracturing activities in the U.S. are carried out in a way that have not led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources, there are potential vulnerabilities in the water lifecycle that could impact drinking water.

In the SAB’s critique of the draft study, they found that the EPA’s approach to assess the potential impacts of the Hydraulic Fracturing Water Cycle (HFWC) processes for oil and gas production on drinking water resources, focusing on the individual stages in the HFWC, to be comprehensive but lacking in several critical areas. The SAB had concerns regarding various aspects of the draft Assessment Report, including regarding several major findings presented within the draft that seek to draw national-level conclusions regarding the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The SAB made recommendations for changes to text in the draft Assessment Report and for follow-on activities to address gaps.

Key findings included:

  • Recognition of Local Impacts: Include and critically analyze the status, data on potential releases, and any available findings from the EPA and state investigations conducted in Dimock, Pennsylvania; Pavillion, Wyoming; and Parker County, Texas, where many members of the public have stated that hydraulic fracturing activities have caused local impacts to drinking water resources.
  • Probability and Risk of Failure Scenarios: Clearly describe the probability, risk and relative significance of potential hydraulic fracturing-related failure mechanisms, and the frequency of occurrence and most likely magnitude and/or probability of risk of water quality impacts associated with such failure mechanisms.
  • Approach for Assessing Water Quality and Quantity Impacts: The SAB provides several suggestions to improve the agency’s approach for assessing the potential that the hydraulic fracturing water cycle processes for oil and gas production may change the quality or quantity of drinking water resources.
The full SAB assessment is available at: https://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/LookupWebReportsLastMonthBOARD/BB6910FEC10C01A18525800C00647104/$File/EPA-SAB-16-005+Unsigned.pdf


DOE REQUESTS $34 MILLION FOR GRID RELIABILITY AND SECURITY

In his testimony before a field hearing held today by Ranking Member Maria Cantwell and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz called for increased investments in U.S. energy emergency response. Secretary Moniz highlighted DOE’s expanded emergency response responsibilities, and the need for comprehensive and coordinated response capabilities in the face of increasingly integrated energy systems and an evolving threat environment.

“The Department of Energy uses its expertise in transformative science and technology solutions to support and enhance our Nation’s emergency response capabilities. Through our private and public partnerships, we apply these solutions to prepare for emergencies, mitigate risks, and expedite restoration and recovery from incidents impacting the energy sector,” said Secretary Moniz in his testimony. “Looking ahead, Congress will be a key partner in ensuring that we strengthen our prevention and response capabilities.”

In order to better harden energy systems against attacks, DOE has requested up to $34 million in funding for twelve projects representing energy sector organizations in nine states through the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability’s Cybersecurity of Energy Delivery Systems (CEDS) program.

The projects will include cybersecurity education for energy sector professionals and research and development of tools to strengthen protection of the nation’s energy infrastructure from cyberattacks. A detailed list of the award selections is available at http://www.energy.gov/oe/downloads/award-selections-development-next-generation-cybersecurity-technologies-and-tools-fact.

As the anniversaries of Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy approach, Secretary Moniz detailed DOE’s increased role in emergency response coordination as it relates to recovery from natural and manmade events such as severe weather, natural disasters, electromagnetic pulses (EMPs), and the impacts of climate change, aging infrastructure and cyber threats. Secretary Moniz also described the essential operational priorities of the DOE and the urgency required to ensure that the agency can continue to serve its most critical functions in the face of increasingly dynamic threats.

In addition to looking at lessons learned from previous disasters, Secretary Moniz also highlighted the importance of emergency preparedness exercises to coordinate response to future disasters, such as Clear Path IV, held in April 2016 in Portland, Oregon and Washington, DC.

To read Secretary Moniz’s full testimony, visit: http://www.energy.gov/articles/secretary-monizs-testimony-senate-committee-energy-natural-resources-field-hearing-seattle


CALL FOR ORGANIZATIONS TO SIGN ON TO LETTER SUPPORTING THE MERITS OF THE MANUFACTURING UNIVERSITIES GRANT PROGRAM

The Senate version of the Department of Defense Authorization Bill includes language on the Manufacturing Universities Grant Program authorizing the Defense Department to support industry-relevant, manufacturing-focused, engineering training at U.S. universities. Institutions would be selected through a competitive grant-based process and would be required to better align their educational offerings with the needs of modern U.S. manufacturers. Designated schools would receive federal grant funding to meet specific goals, including focusing engineering programs on development of industry-relevant advanced manufacturing skills, building new partnerships with manufacturing firms, growing hands-on training opportunities for students, and fostering manufacturing entrepreneurship. The program would be run by the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with other federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Education.

ASME is circulating a letter in support of the merits of the Manufacturing Universities Grant Program at http://cqrcengage.com/asme/app/sign-petition?17&engagementId=234013. Professional societies and universities that support the program will have until August 26 to sign on to the letter. Don’t forget to click on “continue reading” to drop down the rest of the letter. Please feel free to share this link with other interested organizations.

Contact Samantha Fijacko at fijackos@asme.org for additional information.


THE INAUGURAL 2016 MFORESIGHT NATIONAL SUMMIT ON “AMERICA’S NEW MANUFACTURING MOMENT” ON SEP. 29 IN DC

The 2016 MForesight National Summit will be held at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, September 29. The theme of this year's conference is “America’s New Manufacturing Moment.” The daylong event will focus on identifying actionable steps for seizing momentum around new technological innovation and re-shoring trends as well as specific advice for the next Presidential Administration.

This year’s theme reflects the momentum and potential for domestic manufacturing. Speakers will examine how manufacturing can address our innovation needs, the trade deficit in advanced technology products, economic opportunity, and sustainable growth.

Featured Speakers and Panelists include:

  • Robert Atkinson, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) - President
  • Norman Augustine, Lockheed Martin Corp CEO (Ret.); Former Under Secretary of the Army
  • Kurt Bettenhausen, Siemens Corporation - Sr. Vice President for Technology,
  • Emily DeRocco, ACT Foundation - Sr. Strategic Advisor; LIFT – Education & Workforce Development - Director
  • Christine Furstoss, General Electric Global Research – Vice President & Technical Director
  • Ron Hira, Howard University – Professor of Public Policy; Economic Policy Institute
  • Thomas Kalil, The White House – Deputy Director of Technology and Innovation; National Economic Council – Senior Advisor
  • Dean Kamen, Inventor, DEKA Research and Development – Founder; FIRST Robotics – Founder
  • Bruce Kramer, National Science Foundation – Senior Advisor
  • Michael Molnar – NIST – Advanced Manufacturing National Program office - Director
  • Fernando Muzzio, Rutgers University – Distinguished Professor, Chemical & Biochemical Engineering
  • David Parrillo, Dow Chemicals Global R&D – Director
  • Scott Paul - Alliance for American Manufacturing – President
  • Martine Rothblatt, Inventor; United Therapeutics Corp – Founder & Chair of the Board; Sirius XM Radio – Founder

To register for the Summit, please visit the Summit’s webpage at http://mforesight.org/national-summit-2016/.


ASME STUDENT MEMBERS COMPLETE WISE POLICY INTERNSHIPS IN DC

ASME student members, Brenna Doherty and Emily Sheffield, recently served as ASME’s 2016 Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) interns. Ranked in the past as one of the best internships in the U.S. by the Princeton Review, WISE offers a unique opportunity to 3rd and 4th year engineering students to spend the summer of 2016 in Washington, D.C., learning about the interaction of technology and public policy. The dates of the 2016 WISE program were June 6- August 5, 2016.  Six other engineering professional societies also sponsored interns, so the total number of 2016 WISE interns was twelve.

Selected from a nationwide competition, Doherty and Sheffield spent nine weeks learning how government officials make decisions on complex technological issues and how engineers can contribute to legislative and regulatory public policy decisions. At the end of the nine weeks, the interns produced a public policy paper on a topic of interest to them and ASME, and then presented their findings on Capitol Hill.

Brenna Doherty’s policy topic was related to planetary defense, specifically focusing on tracking, deflecting, and destroying near earth objects (NEOs).  To mitigate NEOs, she recommended: increasing space-based tracking capabilities; testing kinetic impactor technology; analyzing nuclear device technology; increasing interagency roles; and, developing an emergency manual. She attends the University of Wyoming where she majors in mechanical engineering and minors in computer science. After graduating in December of 2017, Doherty plans to work in the aerospace and defense industry.

Emily Sheffield served as the joint ASME/ Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office WISE intern. Sheffield’s research paper dealt with how to improve the public’s perception of manufacturing. Her specific focus was on K-12 aged students and how they should be more greatly encouraged to pursue career and technical education (CTE). Her paper’s recommendations included that the National Academy of Engineering produce a report reviewing the present scope and impact of K-12 manufacturing-related education efforts and its effects on the manufacturing image and workforce skills gap. Sheffield is currently a student at Harding University where she studies both mechanical engineering and pre-law. After graduating in 2018, Sheffield plans to attend law school to study intellectual property law.

To review Doherty’s and Sheffield’s policy papers, please visit: http://www.wise-intern.org/journal/2016/WISE2016.html For additional information about the WISE program, please visit: www.wise-intern.org

For more information, please visit the ASME WISE program website at https://www.asme.org/About-ASME/Get-Involved/Advocacy-Government-Relations/Washington-Internships-for-Students-of-Engineering or contact Melissa Carl, Government Relations Manager, at carlm@asme.org


WHITE HOUSE PURSUES AND IMPLEMENTS RULES ON DRONES

As drone technology continues to develop, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has struggled to keep up. This year, the Obama Administration has made efforts to develop a plan to integrate drones into the national airspace. While these efforts were slow to start, the White House is now trying to fully develop an integration plan before the next President takes office.

Earlier this month, the Administration established new policies governing drones, which can be seen in “FACT SHEET: New Commitments to Accelerate the Safe Integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).” Key actions announced include:

  • $35 million in research funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF) over the next five years to accelerate the understanding of how to intelligently and effectively design, control, and apply UAS to beneficial applications.  This will include areas such as monitoring and inspection of physical infrastructure, smart disaster response, agricultural monitoring, the study of severe storms, and more;
  • A broad range of actions by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to use UAS to support search and rescue operations, to augment manned aircraft operations, and improve government processes around technological adoption;
  • A $5 million down-payment by the state of New York to support the growth of the emerging UAS industry across New York; and
  • A collective commitment made by UAS industry associations to implement a broad educational effort around privacy best practices for users of UAS technology, among other private-sector commitments to support UAS technologies.

These new rules governing small commercial drone use will go into effect this month and the Administration is expected to offer more regulations on drone usage before the end of the year.

While the rulemaking process around drones is in its infancy, many in the industry have applauded recent actions and believe these are the first steps in promoting widespread drone usage in the United States. There has been much debate on how to ensure safety as technology advances, which has led to the slow adoption of rules around new and advancing drone technology.

Until now, a commercial drone had to apply for a special waiver exemption from the FAA if they wanted to fly, a lengthy and costly processes. But after new rules go into effect, commercial drones weighing less than 55 pounds will no longer have to use the FAA’s application waiver process as of August 29, 2015.

For more information, the aforementioned fact sheet can be found at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/08/02/fact-sheet-new-commitments-accelerate-safe-integration-unmanned-aircraft


NSF ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS FOR THE 2017 ALAN T. WATERMAN AWARD

National Science Foundation Director France A. Córdova is calling for nominations for the 2017 Alan T. Waterman Award in recognition of the talent, creativity, and influence of a promising, early-career researcher.

Nominees are accepted from any field of science and engineering that NSF supports. The award recipient will receive a medal and an invitation to the formal awards ceremony in Washington, DC. In addition, the recipient will receive a grant of $1,000,000 over a five-year period for scientific research or advanced study in any field of science or engineering supported by the NSF at any institution of the recipient's choice. We are especially interested in nominations for women, members of underrepresented groups in science and engineering, and persons with disabilities.

Eligibility and Selection Criteria

  1. A candidate must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. He or she must be 35 years of age or younger, or not more than 7 years beyond receipt of the Ph.D. degree, by December 31, 2016.
  2. A candidate should have demonstrated exceptional individual achievement in scientific or engineering research of sufficient quality, originality, innovation, and significant impact on the field so as to situate him or her as a leader among peers.

Nominations are due by October 21, 2016 through the FastLane system. To submit a nomination, please visit https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/honawards/.

Additional information can be found at: http://www.nsf.gov/od/waterman/waterman.jsp and http://www.nsf.gov/od/waterman/nsf_watermanaward_2017callfornominations_160708.pdf

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

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