December 8, 2017
Capitol Update

In this issue:


Manufacturing USA has released it 2016 Annual Report to Congress, which provides an analysis of the program’s success in supporting technology transfers in the U.S.

The advances made in each of the nine Manufacturing USA Institutes that were active in fiscal year 2016 have made it possible to move advanced discoveries at the nation’s universities and research laboratories to the shop floor here in the U.S. The Annual Report shows how the Institutes support U.S. global leadership in advanced manufacturing, not only by developing game-changing technology, but also by cultivating a skilled workforce that is sorely needed for the U.S. to truly take advantage of innovations that will lead to increased economic opportunity and high-paying jobs in America.

While the U.S. has had a strong history of manufacturing goods and selling them worldwide, it is widely recognized that the manufacturing jobs of the past will not be able to sustain today’s advanced, technical society or meet the needs of future generations. Now, however, with the Manufacturing USA program established and growing, the U.S. has the opportunity to ensure economic growth and employ millions of Americans in skilled manufacturing jobs that serve as an entry point for many into the middle-class. Manufacturing plays an oversized role in the U.S. economy as it has a high economic multiplier effect; each advanced manufacturing employee supports an estimated 16 jobs in other sectors of the economy.

Throughout the 20th century, the U.S. manufacturing sector has driven knowledge production and innovation by enabling the transition of research into products that are used throughout the world. However, with the transition from traditional manufacturing into advanced, technical manufacturing, our country’s historic leadership in the sector is at risk. The Manufacturing USA program, which if continued and scaled properly to meet the growing needs of the country, will counter the threat we face and ensure America’s economic prowess and role in the global manufacturing market well into the future.

As stated in the report, “The Manufacturing USA network progressed tremendously in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, meeting its mission of increasing U.S. competitiveness through innovations in manufacturing technology and workforce development.”

To find out more on how the program is achieving success, please download the Manufacturing USA 2016 report to Congress at this link:


According to a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), technology-based start-ups are an important driver of America’s economic growth and competitiveness. The report released last week examined data on more than 5 million firms in 10 technology-based industries from 2007 to 2016 and found that the number of technology-based start-ups have increased by 47 percent in the last decade, providing outsized contributions as compared to their non-tech counterparts in the areas of employment, innovation, exports, and productivity growth. 

However, the report cautions that policy makers should not become complacent in promoting policies to help current and future technology-based start-ups. The report took a look at data across 10 technology-based industries: aerospace parts & products, computer systems and design, computer and electronics, data processing, pharmaceuticals and medicine, software publishing, medical devices, scientific R&D, semiconductor components, and semiconductor machinery.

ITIF is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute with the mission to formulate, evaluate, and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress.

The full report is available at:


House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Environment Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) applauded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for finalizing the 2018 requirements for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) late last week. The RFS extends the time for biofuel refiners and producers to meet the requirements of the law.

The agency finalized a total renewable fuel volume of 19.29 billion gallons slightly up from its July proposal of 19.24 billion and 2017’s 19.28 billion. Fifteen billion gallons will come from conventional corn-based ethanol, while the other 4.29 billion gallons will come from advanced sources such as cellulosic biofuel.

“EPA appears to have absorbed the tens of thousands of comments from American ethanol producers, farmers, consumers, veterans, and others who suggested the proposed rule was unnecessarily pessimistic with regard to the total renewable fuel volumes, and cellulosic ethanol volumes specifically,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, the ethanol industry’s largest trade group. “The final rule is a marked improvement, increasing both total renewable fuel and cellulosic biofuel volumes by 50 million gallons over the proposed levels.”

The program was created by Congress in 2005 and sets annual minimum volumes of renewable fuels to be added to the country’s fuel supply. It has become a contentious issue as support and opposition come from different parts of the country where oil-producing states have called for a repeal or overhaul of the program. Meanwhile agricultural states want higher renewable fuel volumes.

For more information on the EPA’s new RFS volumes, visit:


The Department of Energy (DOE) last week issued a request for information on the U.S. Appliance and Equipment Energy Conservation Standards (ECS) program to evaluate the Department’s proposed changes that would incorporate market-based approaches, fee bate programs, or other approaches that may reduce compliance costs and/or increase consumer choice while preserving or enhancing appliance efficiency.

This request for information includes discussion on current approaches to the ECS program, and outlines the potential for DOE to create entirely new program mechanisms, which could entail a major shakeup to the DOE and EPA administered ENERGY STAR / ECS incentives programs: 

“DOE requests feedback on possible revisions to the ECS to adopt some type of market-based approach and/or other program flexibilities. DOE additionally requests feedback on possible impacts on consumer and manufacturer costs, estimated benefits of the program such as energy savings, design and implementation of such a program, and suggestions for a pilot product category and/or phase-in of revisions across ECS. DOE encourages the public to provide input on measures DOE could take to lower the cost of its regulations consistent with the requirements of EPCA... These market-based program options will differ from the current DOE compliance structure creating some uncertainty about implementation, interaction with voluntary programs such as ENERGY STAR, certification, and enforcement for both manufacturers and DOE. The scope of a tradable standards program could range from allowing averaging only across each company's appliances within a product category (that is, no trading across product categories or between companies).”

Comments are due by February 26, 2018. Further details are available in the Federal Register notice:

Congress has also been weighing changes to the ECS program, with the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy recently examining discussion draft legislation regarding the ENERGY STAR portion of the program. ENERGY STAR was designed to reduce energy waste and lower energy costs by promoting energy conservation best practices. The program is recognized widely as the world’s gold standard for public-private partnerships and is used by the European Union, Canada, Japan, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Thailand.

The Energy Star Reform Act discussion draft contains several suggested modifications to the ENERGY STAR program. One, it would change the way program responsibilities are set by making the DOE as the permanent lead agency, but allowing the Secretary to delegate responsibilities to EPA. Second, it would subject the program to the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) so that ENERGY STAR would be treated as agency rulemakings, including notice and comment requirements, and third, it creates limited liability protections for program participants that have products not in compliance that would be subject to corrective measures and penalties, but would not be subject to litigation related to the non-compliance. Fourth, the draft also provides limited exceptions from the requirement that all products participating in ENERGY STAR be tested by a third-party certification body.

The Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit coalition, urged a cautious approach in its testimony on proposed modifications to the program during. Recent threats to the ENERGY STAR Program include the Trump Administration’s FY2018 budget proposal, which would eliminate it, and the House FY2018 Interior Appropriations bill, which includes only $31 million for ENERGY STAR, a 25 percent reduction from last year. 

Joseph M. McGuire, President and Chief Executive Officer Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) testified that the program for home appliances should be moved from EPA back to DOE where the program originated, allowing full and seamless integration with the appliance standards rulemaking process. AHAM also testified that the APA process should be applied to ENERGY STAR, and supported efforts to preempt ENERGY STAR class action lawsuits, as proposed in the discussion draft. 

CREE, a manufacturer of LED products and semiconductor components, testified to support full funding of the ENERGY STAR program, and was against transferring the program to DOE management. In addition, CREE argued that applying the APA to ENERGY STAR would make the program more time-consuming, burdensome, and inflexible to the rapidly changing marketplace for consumer products.  CREE also opposed providing exemptions for specific manufacturers or products from third-party certification, as certification is necessary to catch bad actors misusing the program with products that don’t meet ENERGY STAR standards. 

For more information on the discussion draft for the ENERGY STAR program, visit:


With the advent of the shale gas boom over the last several years, the United States has transformed from a growing importer of natural gas to a burgeoning exporter. Exports by both pipeline and ship have grown risen steadily; liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports in 2013 were about 13 billion cubic feet (bcf), while in 2016 that figure jumped to almost 184 bcf. This increase can mostly be attributed to the opening of the Sabine Pass Liquefaction facility in Louisiana in February 2016.

Despite the large volumes associated with the large-scale U.S. LNG export terminals, like Sabine Pass, there has also been a growing interest in small-scale LNG exports, mainly in cryogenic containers, to the Caribbean. Currently, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which permits the export of natural gas as a commodity, has received 13 applications from companies seeking approval to export relatively small quantities of LNG primarily to destinations in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Of the 13, 11 applications are to export natural gas to Free Trade Agreement (FTA) countries, and all have been approved. Seven of the nine applications to export to non-FTA countries have been approved, with two non-FTA applications under review.

Globally, large quantities of LNG liquefaction capacity are projected to come into operation within the next decade. Most of those projected projects, including those in the United States, are large-capacity facilities targeting the biggest LNG importers, like Japan and South Korea. However, there is a subset of the U.S. projects that are small-scale in capacity and targeting a small market—the Caribbean. In 2016, three Caribbean countries—Barbados (0.10 bcf), the Dominican Republic (41.32 bcf), and Jamaica (0.35 bcf)—imported LNG. Puerto Rico was the largest importer of LNG in the region, with 57.56 bcf in 2016, predominantly on tankers. Barbados and Dominican Republic imported LNG from the United States. Puerto Rico, in part because of the Jones Act, is not able to import LNG on LNG tankers, but has imported LNG from the continental United States in cryogenic containers. The United States has not made an LNG tanker in almost 40 years. 

For more information on LNG exports, visit:


A Workshop on Women of Color in STEM was recently held in Washington, DC. The first panel was entitled, “Progress to Date, Issues That Still Remain, New Issues” moderated by  Evelynn Hammonds, Professor of African and African American Studies, and Chair, Department of the History of Science, Harvard University, and included:

  • Sarita Brown, President, Excelencia in Education
  • Maria (Mia) Ong, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist and Evaluator at the Technical Education Research Centers, Inc. (TERC)
  • Yolanda Moses, Professor at UC Riverside and former president, City College
  • Joan Reede, Dean for Diversity and Community Partnership, and Professor in the Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Harvard University
  • Shirley Malcom, Head of Education and Human Resources Programs at AAAS

During the first session, AAAS promoted a type of voluntary assessment to examine the diversity of the faculty and students and developing a certification method similar to how buildings obtain LEED Green building certification.  Certification would establish a base line on diversity within an institution, and there could be voluntary recertification every 5 years.

Panelists also discussed how to best determine the obstacles to improving diversity and methods to improve recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and students. Dean Reede gave an example of a deliberate program in the medical field to identify individuals who wanted to move into leadership to promote diversity in their field. One way of influencing policy on diversity is to ask for disaggregated data that explicitly pulls out the ethnicity of those that fall within “women of color” and within each STEM discipline. Another way is to publically engage on the issue so that removing barriers for one group does the same for a larger groups.

The second panel: “Current Initiatives and Programs,” was moderated by Vivian Pinn,

former Director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health at the NIH, who said that this issue could be highlighted more prominently on organizational websites.

  • Akua Asa-Awuku, Associate Professor, University of Maryland, College Park, Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Sandra Begay, Principal Member of Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories
  • Gilda Barabino, Dean of Engineering at City College of New York
  • Shawndra Hill, Senior Researcher in the Computational Social Science Group at Microsoft Research NYC

Panelists noted that many types of mentors are needed for women to move up in their careers and that they have developed personal relationships with each other to drive the creation of a supportive environment for women of color in particular, as these women are often alone within their institutions. Merely having institutional policy and practices is not enough to promote diversity, and how they are implemented is critical.

Learn more at women in engineering at this link: and obtain resource materials at this link:

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