December 7, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:


NEW WHITE HOUSE STEM REPORT IS “NORTH STAR” FOR FEDERAL STEM POLICY

The White House Committee on STEM Education of the National Science and Technology Council recently released its five year interagency report detailing the administration’s strategic plan for federal science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs. In discussing the new report, titled “Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education, ”White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios explained that it will focus on “the need to ensure that all Americans have a strong STEM foundation, even those who are not pursuing a STEM degree as we know it now.”

This new report, hailed as the “North Star” that “charts a course for the Nation’s success” is an update on the inaugural 5-year strategic plan issued under the Obama administration. “It represents an urgent call to action for a nationwide collaboration with learners, families, educators, communities, and employers.” The plan serves as a road map for future federal investment in STEM education. This includes strengthening partnerships between schools, businesses and other organization to make the best use of resources and expertise in the STEM field. It further calls on bolstering work-based learning experiences such as internships, apprenticeships and research experiences. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is congressionally mandated to release this interagency plan for federal STEM programs every five years.

The National Science Foundation also recently released a report of their own on STEM funding, noting that funding of higher education research and development (R&D) increased 4.7% from FY16, coming in at a total of $75.3 billion in FY17. This is the first time federal R&D funding has increased for two consecutive years since FY2009-2011.

The report explains that the federal government has continued to provide the highest share of this funding, providing more than 53% in FY16 and FY17. Of this amount, 25 percent, or roughly $19 billion, was spent on higher education R&D. Two-thirds of R&D growth expenditures came from increases in biological and biomedical sciences, with these life sciences receiving a $664 million increase, and health sciences receiving a $1.6 million increase.

To view the White House’s 5 Year Strategic Plan, click here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/STEM-Education-Strategic-Plan-2018.pdf

To view the NSF report, click here: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2019/nsf19302/nsf19302.pdf


TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SEEKS TO END ELECTRIC VEHICLE TAX CREDIT

Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council recently announced that the Trump administration will seek an end to electric car and renewable energy tax credits by 2020 or 2021.

Currently, owners of electric vehicles receive a federal tax credit of $7,500 per vehicle. However once a car company sells more than 200,000 cars, this credit begins to phase out. President Trump recently lashed out at General Motors following the closure of several production plants and resulting loss of roughly 15,000 jobs, threatening to cut all subsidies to the motor company. If the current subsidies remain in place, at the current sales rate GM customers in 2020 face receiving no credit whatsoever. Bloomberg explains that the $7,500 credit phases out over a one-year period starting the second calendar quarter after a manufacturer hits the 200,000-vehicle threshold -- a milestone GM is expected to reach in coming months.

Congress has tried to extend the credit through raising the 200,000 vehicle cap in place. However, earlier this week House Republicans introduced legislations that did not include any sort of electric-vehicle tax credit. The Senate has not yet released its version of the legislation, though Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) remarked on the possibility of an extension being included in the Senate’s bill.


WHITE HOUSE PRAISES RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE AS A TOP PRIORITY FOR OCEAN SCIENCE

The White House National Science and Technology Council recently released a report on the future of ocean and science technology. The report follows on a ten-year plan released in 2007 under the Bush administration, which was later updated in 2013 under the Obama administration. It seeks to provide guidance on how to proceed over the next ten years with regards to conserving the ecosystem of the oceans for generations to come, noting that “The ocean science and technology (S&T) enterprise can provide the foundational knowledge needed to address many complex ocean-related challenges and inform decision-making that will ultimately strengthen our Nation and its communities.”
The report identifies five goals to advance U.S. ocean science and technology over the next ten years, along with five areas of immediate ocean research and technology opportunities and cites research infrastructure as “one of the highest priorities of the ocean S&T community.” The goals are interlinked and support each other and include multiple ancillary goals within each primary goal. These five primary goals are:

  • Understand the Ocean in the Earth System
  • Promote Economic Prosperity
  • Ensure Maritime Security
  • Safeguard Human Health
  • Develop Resilient Coastal Communities
To view the report in full, click here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Science-and-Technology-for-Americas-Oceans-A-Decadal-Vision.pdf


ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY FINALIZES 2019 RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARDS

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it has finalized a rule establishing the mandated renewable fuel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for 2019, and biomass-based diesel for 2020. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to set annual transportation biofuel RFS volumes in four categories: total, advanced, cellulosic, and biomass-based diesel.
“Issuing the annual renewable volume obligations rule on time is extremely important to all stakeholders impacted by the Renewable Fuel Standard program,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
The 2019 finalized rule includes the following actions:

  • “Conventional” renewable fuel volumes, primarily met by corn ethanol, will be maintained at the implied 15-billion gallon target set by Congress for 2019.
  • Advanced biofuel volumes for 2019 will increase by 630 million gallons over the 2018 standard.
  • Cellulosic biofuel volumes for 2019 will increase by almost 130 million gallons over the 2018 standard.
  • Biomass-based diesel volumes for 2020 will increase by 330 million gallons over the standard for 2019. 
To view the final rule in full, click here: https://www.epa.gov/renewable-fuel-standard-program/final-renewable-fuel-standards-2019-and-biomass-based-diesel-volume


PUBLIC FEEDBACK SOUGHT BY BOTH DEPARTMENTS OF ENERGY AND COMMERCE IN DRAFTING OF NEW POLICIES

The Department of Energy (DOE) is currently soliciting feedback on Request for Information (RFI) regarding Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF). The RFI is seeking input on how DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions (OTT) can improve the TCF through programmatic and structural changes. Specific input on factors such as the TCF’s structure and process, role of project partners, and cost share arrangements are particularly sought. All comments must be received by January 11, 2019.
The Department of Commerce (Commerce) recently issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) seeking public input on how it should identify “emerging technologies” critical to U.S. national security. This ANPRM is in response to the National Defense Authorization Act released earlier this year, which calls on the president to create an interagency process to establishing export controls on “emerging and foundational technologies.” The ANPRM lists 14 technology categories that Commerce considers the most pertinent. It requests feedback on the following points:

  • How to define emerging technology to assist identification of such technology in the future
  • Criteria to apply to determine whether there are specific technologies within these categories important to U.S. national security
  • Sources to identify such technologies
  • Other general technology categories that warrant review to identify emerging technology that are important to U.S. national security
  • The status of development of these technologies  in the U.S. and abroad
  • The impact specific emerging technology controls would have on U.S. technological leadership
  • Any other approaches to the issue of identifying emerging technologies important to U.S. national security

All comments must be submitted by December 19, 2018
To view and respond to the DOE RFI, click here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/11/27/2018-25838/notice-of-request-for-information-rfi-technology-commercialization-fund?utm_source=SSTI+Weekly+Digest

To view and respond to the Commerce ANPRM, click here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/11/19/2018-25221/review-of-controls-for-certain-emerging-technologies


NATIONAL ACADEMIES EXPLORES THE TECHNICAL RISKS AND LOGISTICAL DETAILS OF QUANTUM COMPUTING

The National Academies recently hosted a webinar event to mark the release of its report on Quantum Computing. The Technical Assessment of the Feasibility and Implications of Quantum Computing provides an overview and evaluation of the feasibility and implications of creating a functional quantum computer capable of addressing real-world problems.
The report was developed by the National Academies’ Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB), in conjunction with the Intelligence Community Studies Board. The report considers the following points, without providing any official recommendations:

  • What are the technical risks associated with developing a quantum computer, and what are realistic timelines to achieve a functionally useful machine?  Who are the primary players capable of producing and using a quantum computer?
  • What are the implications of having a quantum computer, for example on signals intelligence, communications, banking, and commerce?
  • What is the future of public key cryptography? What are the prospects and timescales for developing and deploying quantum-resistant encryption?
  • What are the costs and benefits from a national security perspective of quantum computing, under various assumptions of time, cost, non-US development, alternative technologies, etc.?

To view the report in full, click here: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/CSTB/CurrentProjects/CSTB_173986

Effective communication, consent and data protection of our members, customers and volunteers are top priorities of ASME's. A new European legislation impacting consent and data policies with global implications went into effect in May 2018 therefore, ASME is updating our policies to require permission to contact you.

To continue to receive Capitol Updates, please visit the ASME Preference Center and select Capitol Updates under the Newsletter category. All you need to access the Preference Center is your ASME account login to manage the communications you want to receive. The Preference Center provides you with full control of your email preferences - with more options to fine-tune what you receive from us than ever before. We hope you'll find this improves your experience with ASME.