August 29, 2014 Capitol Update

In this issue:

ENERGY DEPARTMENT INVESTS $67 MILLION TO ADVANCED NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY

The Energy Department recently announced nearly $67 million in nuclear energy research and infrastructure enhancement awards. 83 projects were selected from across the country based on their potential to create scientific breakthroughs that both help strengthen the nation’s energy security and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

As part of the announcement, the Energy Department is awarding over $30 million through its Nuclear Energy Research Programs (NEUP) to support 44 university-led nuclear energy research and development projects to develop innovative technologies and solutions. These projects will be led by 30 U.S. universities in 24 states.

The announcement includes approximately $4 million to 19 universities for research reactor and infrastructure improvements – providing important safety, performance, and student education-related upgrades to the nation’s 25 university research reactors as well as enhancing university research and training infrastructure.

The Energy Department is also awarding $20 million for 5 Integrated Research Projects (IRPs) that will deliver solutions to high priority nuclear energy research challenges, including instrumentation and vacuum drying systems associated with the storage of used nuclear fuel, an integrated approach to fluoride high temperature reactor technology development, and advanced instrumentation to support transient testing.

Additionally, $11 million will be awarded for 12 research and development projects led by U.S. universities, Department of Energy national laboratories and industry in support of the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies Crosscutting Technology Development Program (NEET CTD) to address crosscutting nuclear energy challenges.

Two infrastructure enhancement projects totaling over $1 million will be awarded to Department of Energy national laboratories to further reactor materials and instrumentation research.

Refer to https://inlportal.inl.gov/portal/server.pt/community/neup_home/600/fy14_NEET_awards
for additional information on all the previously mentioned projects.

 

NRC APPROVES FINAL RULE ON SPENT FUEL STORAGE AND ENDS SUSPENSION OF FINAL LICENSING ACTIONS


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved a final rule on the environmental effects of continued storage of spent nuclear fuel and will lift its suspension of final licensing actions on nuclear power plant licenses and renewals once the rule becomes effective.

The Commission’s action signals the end of a two-year effort to satisfy a remand by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court in June 2012 struck down the NRC’s 2010 revision of its “waste confidence” rule, directing the agency to consider the possibility that a geologic repository for permanent disposal of spent fuel might never be built, and to do further analysis of spent fuel pool leaks and fires. The Commission responded in August 2012 by suspending final licensing decisions on new reactors, reactor license renewals and spent fuel storage facility renewals. It subsequently directed the staff to develop a new rule and a supporting Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) within 24 months.

The continued storage rule adopts the findings of the GEIS regarding the environmental impacts of storing spent fuel at any reactor site after the reactor’s licensed period of operations. As a result, those generic impacts do not need to be re-analyzed in the environmental reviews for individual licenses. The GEIS analyzes the environmental impact of storing spent fuel beyond the licensed operating life of reactors over three timeframes: for 60 years (short-term), 100 years after the short-term scenario (long-term) and indefinitely.

The GEIS also analyzes impacts across a number of resource areas throughout each timeframe. Areas examined include land use, air and water quality, and historic and cultural resources. It also contains the NRC’s analysis of spent fuel pool leaks and fires in response to the Appeals Court remand. The rule does not authorize, license or otherwise permit nuclear power plant licensees to store spent fuel for any length of time.

The action approved the final rule and GEIS, renamed from “waste confidence” to “continued storage of spent nuclear fuel.” The name was changed in response to near-unanimous public comment to more accurately reflect the nature and content of the rule.

In a separate Order, the Commission approved lifting the suspensions and provided direction on the resolution of related contentions in 21 adjudications before the Commission and the Atomic Safety and Licensing Boards. The Order authorizes the NRC staff to issue final licensing decisions as appropriate once the final rule becomes effective, 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

More information about the rule and GEIS is available on the NRC website: http://www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage/wcd.html

The Commissioners’ individual vote records and comments on the final rule and GEIS will be posted at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/cvr/2014/ and the Memorandum and Order lifting the licensing suspensions and providing direction on the resolution of related adjudicatory contentions will be posted at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/cvr/2014/

 

NIST SEEKS TECHNOLOGY COMMERCIALIZATION SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is seeking an organization to support its Small Business Innovation Research(SBIR) awardees by providing technical and business expertise and resources to promote commercialization of the technologies developed through the SBIR program.

Through the SBIR program, NIST funds small businesses to conduct research projects related to its mission to advance measurement science, standards and technology to support U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness and to improve the nation's quality of life.

Nonprofit organizations, accredited institutions of higher education, state or local governments or commercial organizations within the United States are eligible to compete for a cooperative agreement under the Technology Commercialization Assistance Program (TCAP). The TCAP recipient will support SBIR awardees in making better technical decisions, solving technical problems, minimizing technical risks, and developing and commercializing new commercial products and processes.

NIST anticipates funding a five-year project beginning in fiscal year 2015 with approximately $60,000 per year, subject to the availability of funds. The complete announcement of this Federal Funding Opportunity, 2014-NIST-SBIR-02, including details on how to apply, is available at Grants.gov at www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=262612

 Applications are due by September 23, 2014.

 

NASA ANNOUNCES AWARDS TO EXPAND INFORMAL STEM EDUCATION NETWORK

NASA has selected 12 informal educational institutions to receive approximately $6 million in agency funding to provide compelling science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities in informal education settings, such as museums, science centers, planetariums and NASA visitor centers.

The selected projects will complement and enhance STEM curricula taught in traditional kindergarten through 12th grade academic settings.

These education grants were awarded through NASA's Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums and NASA Visitor Centers Plus Other Opportunities (CP4SMPVC) in response to a solicitation issued in April 2013. The solicitation sought STEM projects to infuse cutting-edge NASA research and development activities into curriculum development and implementation, teacher preparation and professional development, effective teaching, out-of-school activities and educational technology.

These projects are designed to engage youth, families, educators and the public through educator professional development, webcasts, digital and traveling exhibits and community-based programming. They have performance periods from one to five years and range in value from approximately $150,000 to $900,000. Final funding is contingent upon NASA's approval of each organization's detailed business plan.

The selected institutions will partner with NASA's Museum Alliance, a nationwide network of education professionals at more than 575 science museums, planetariums, NASA visitor centers, Challenger Centers, and visitor centers at observatories and parks, nature centers, aquariums and zoos.

For more information about this year's CP4SMPVC winners, including project descriptions, visit http://go.nasa.gov/18U8PAO

NIST SEEKS INFO ON USER EXPERIENCES WITH CYBERSECURITY FRAMEWORK

Six months ago, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released version 1.0 of its voluntary Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (http://www.nist.gov/cyberframework/upload/cybersecurity-framework-021214-final.pdf),
a methodical approach that organizations of all types can use to create, guide, assess or improve their cybersecurity plans. The framework was developed with industry in a collaborative and open process over the course of a year, as directed by President Obama in Executive Order 13636 (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-02-19/pdf/2013-03915.pdf). NIST is now seeking public feedback on the framework.

NIST has posted to its Cybersecurity Framework website a preview version of a request for information (RFI) it intends to announce in an upcoming issue of the Federal Register. The goal of the RFI is to gain understanding of organizations' awareness of and experiences with the framework. NIST is posting the preview to provide organizations additional time to consider the RFI.

Over the past six months, NIST has worked closely with industry groups, associations, non-profits, government agencies and international standards bodies to strengthen awareness of the framework and to promote its use as a basic, flexible and adaptable tool for managing and reducing cybersecurity risks.

Responses to the RFI will affect NIST's planning and decisions about possible tools and resources to help organizations use the framework more effectively and efficiently. They also will inform the Department of Homeland Security's Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community C³ Voluntary Program (https://www.us-cert.gov/ccubedvp) and frame discussion at the October 29 and 30, 2014, Cybersecurity Framework Workshop, in Tampa, FL.

All responses will be posted on the framework website after the comment period closes, 45 days after the RFI is published in the Federal Register. NIST is especially interested in comments that will help to determine the framework's usefulness and applicability throughout industry, but input from all organizations is encouraged.

In addition to feedback on the framework itself, the RFI asks for input on its accompanying Roadmap (http://www.nist.gov/cyberframework/upload/roadmap-021214.pdf), which outlines issues and challenges that should be addressed in order to improve future versions of the framework.

NEW AND UPDATED MOBILE APPS FOR NSB SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING INDICATORS

The National Science Board (NSB) recently announced the launch of Science and Engineering Indicators (SEI) for Android. The new app joins the existing and recently updated SEI App for iPad. Both free apps provide users with access to the full content of the 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators report (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind14/), the premier source of information and analysis of the nation's position in science and engineering (S&E) education and research.

Produced by the NSB and the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), SEI is used by Congress, the administration, the science and engineering (S&E) research and education communities, journalists and others who seek unbiased, high-quality, quantitative data related to science and technology.

SEI includes information on science, mathematics and engineering education at all levels; the S&E workforce, domestic and international R&D performance; U.S. competitiveness in high technology and public attitudes towards and understanding of the sciences. The publication is subject to extensive review by outside experts, other federal agencies, NSB members and NCSES reviewers.

Visit Google Play to download the free SEI app for Android (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.nsf.sei) and the App Store to download the free SEI app for iPad (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/science-engineering-indicators/id688898067?mt=8&ls=1)

 

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