August 4, 2017
Capitol Update

In this issue:


NATIONAL ACADEMIES OF SCIENCES, ENGINEERING, AND MEDICINE REPORTS ON THE RESILIENCE OF U.S. ELECTRIC GRID

In a new congressionally mandated report, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine states that the United States’ electric grid remains vulnerable to natural disasters, cyber and physical attacks. These risks to the grid mean that the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security should work closely with utility operators and others to improve in the areas of cyber and physical security and resilience.

The recommendations to make the grid more resilient involve using technologies and organizational strategies that minimize the likelihood that outages will happen in the first place, reducing any negative impacts, and speeding up recovery when they do occur. Meanwhile, there should be the ongoing development of mechanisms for continual improvements as the nature of threats evolve.

Since there is no single entity involved in the grid’s integrity, an integrated perspective across the numerous, diverse institutions responsible for the resilience of electricity system is needed. There is also a need to improve the process of assessing large-area, long-duration grid disruptions that could have major economic, social, and other adverse consequences. Another recommendation is to expand efforts to convene regional emergency preparedness exercises with regional and state agencies, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.  Further, there was a call to increase investments through public and private funds to develop reliable inventories of backup power.

To read the study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy please visit: http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=24836


X-RAYS FROM COPPER SOURCE SET NEW GOLD STANDARD FOR MEASURING INDUSTRIAL MATERIALS

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have produced and precisely measured a spectrum of X-rays from a copper source using a state-of-the-art machine that will allow scientists to make some of the world’s most accurate measurements of materials. Being able to do so will ensure that measurements of materials from other labs around the world are reliable.

Taking twenty years to build the instrument for making the new measurements was painstaking. “This new specialized precision instrument required both a tremendous amount of mechanical innovation and theoretical modeling,” said James Cline, project leader of the NIST team that built the machine.

The wavelength of an X-ray is used as a ruler to measure the spacing of atoms in crystals and improves accuracy. Next the measurements of the lattice spacings are linked to the definition of the meter in the International System of Units (SI). Through the comparisons to the SI meter, one can obtain quality assurance at the smallest levels.

Additional information can be found at: https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2017/05/x-rays-copper-source-set-new-gold-standard-measuring-industrial-materials


NATIONAL ACADEMIES REPORT ON INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS

A National Academies Press released a report detailing the outcomes of a workshop series convened in New York and London by the Forum on Public–Private Partnerships for Global Health and Safety (PPP Forum).

During these public workshops, the centrality of health to sustainable economic and human development was explored as well as the potential of partnerships between the public and public sectors and civil society to advance both health and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

A few of the highlights from speakers were that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are defined by their broad and ambitious scope. Health is also a critical input and outcome of development as an integral part of the SDGs agenda, and progress in population health outcomes and the health-related targets of the SDGs requires consideration of health across the goals and the engagement of all sectors in the SDGs agenda. It is also essential for private capital and private sector innovation involvement to achieve the SDGs agenda.

To read the full report, please visit: http://nationalacademies.us8.list-manage.com/track/click?u=ab74d126b7d2db12591de5c2c&id=6af36ab535&e=88f4f634d4


THE CYBERSECURITY RISKS IN UPSTREAM DRILLING

The oil and gas industry has escaped a major operational catastrophe thus far due to cyberattacks, but as the industry has begun to use more IoT to control operational systems remotely, both engineering and IT expertise are needed to secure them appropriately.

Risks include hijacking a process control system and pushing production to unsafe levels or allowing a virus to migrate into the production environment, which can shut down Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and create unsafe working conditions.

Some vulnerabilities stem from the technologies, but there are also behavioral aspects which can compromise the operational systems such as a lack system of controls over inserting portable media infected with malware into the environment and a lack of urgency for employees to change their behaviors and implement new security protocols because they believe they are not targets.

Companies in this space can take steps to determine the maturity of their cyber security controls in an operational environment so that they are aware of the type of controls which are in place. They should also look for opportunities to make improvements by looking at the magnitude of the business risk from security breaches utilizing a multidisciplinary team of business, operations, engineering, and IT security professionals.

Read more: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Energy-and-Resources/intergrated-approach-combat-cyber-risk-oil-gas.pdf


A REVIEW OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY'S SCIENCE TO ACHIEVE RESULTS RESEARCH PROGRAM (STAR)

Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) primary extramural grants program is the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program. STAR has an integral role in addressing environmental and human health research priorities that improve air and drinking water quality and protect children’s health according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on the program.

Created in 1995, the STAR program provides research grants to support individual investigators, multidisciplinary centers, and graduate fellows. The research has resulted in improvements in public health, and the cost of regulatory compliance by improving environmental testing and modeling methods. The results are also utilized in government regulatory and decision support documents as well as the guidance documents of organizations.

The report has recommended that the EPA consistently track and synthesize the results of these research grants in a database so that the link between grants, fellowships, and public benefits are available. EPA could also partner with other federal agency efforts to improve its communications regarding the public impacts of its research. 

Download the report here: http://dels.nas.edu/Materials/Report-In-Brief/4213-EPA-STAR?bname=best&_ga=2.70268627.2114144047.1498576862-418055748.1498576862

Visit the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/ for daily news and policy developments, including the following:
http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/conversationist-the-internet-and-cybersecurity/
Scientists Store Film Clip in DNA, Pave the Way for AR Experience Sharing
http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/scientists-store-film-clip-in-dna-pave-the-way-for-ar-experience-sharing/
IoT Tech Accelerates Among Manufacturers: Survey
http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/iot-tech-accelerates-among-manufacturers-survey/
Robots, Start Your Engines!
http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/robots-start-your-engines/