February 3, 2017
Capitol Update

In this issue:


The U.S. House of Representatives recently unanimously approved the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act (H.R. 589), introduced by Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX). H.R. 589 provides policy direction to the Department of Energy (DOE) on basic science research, nuclear energy research and development (R&D), research coordination and priorities, and reforms to streamline national lab management.

Chairman Smith noted, “I am pleased to sponsor H.R. 589, the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act, which will advance basic research and set clear science priorities for the Department of Energy. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will enable the development of next generation technology and promote innovation and economic growth. I thank Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson and my colleagues on the Science Committee, Reps. Hultgren, Knight, and Weber, for their help writing this legislation. I look forward to the Senate approving this important legislation soon.”

Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) joined Smith in co-sponsoring the bill and hailing its passage: “This bill includes the first comprehensive authorization of the DOE Office of Science, which is the largest supporter of physical sciences research in the country. This is a nearly $6 billion office that manages 10 of our national laboratories, often called the crown jewels of our national research infrastructure.”

The bill provides DOE national labs increased flexibility to more efficiently partner with the private sector, and simplifies the DOE technology transfer process. It also reauthorizes a Strategic Research Portfolio Analysis that will help identify key areas for collaboration across science and applied research programs.

The bill provides statutory direction and priorities for basic research programs within DOE’s Office of Science. This includes research in basic energy sciences, biological and environmental research, high performance computing, nuclear physics, high energy physics, and fusion energy. Title III specifically authorizes basic research programs in solar fuels, electricity storage, exascale computing, and low dose radiation.

The bill includes the text of the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities (Title IV), which authorizes nuclear R&D activities at DOE and harnesses and combines the strengths of the national labs, universities, and the private sector in a joint innovation initiative. It also provides a clear timeline for DOE to complete a research reactor facility that will enable proprietary and academic research to develop supercomputing models and design next generation nuclear energy technology.

H.R. 589 includes language from the following bills that passed the House in the 114th Congress:

  • America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (Rep. Smith) (H.R. 1806)
  • DOE Lab Modernization and Technology Transfer Act (Rep. Hultgren) (H.R. 1158)
  • American Super Computing Leadership Act (Rep. Hultgren) (H.R. 874)
  • Low Dose Radiation Research Act (Rep. Hultgren) (H.R. 35)
  • Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (Rep. Weber) (H.R. 4084, H.R. 431 in the 115th Congress)
  • Solar Fuels Innovation Act (Rep. Knight) (H.R. 5638)
  • Electricity Storage Innovation Act (Rep. Smith) (H.R. 5640)

The full text of the bill is available at: https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hr589/BILLS-115hr589eh.xml


On January 20, 2017, the new White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.” The Memorandum, with an exception by the Director or Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget allowing for emergency situations or other urgent circumstances relating to health, safety, financial, or national security matters, or otherwise, is designed to ensure that the President's appointees or designees have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations. A freeze of this sort typically occurs at the start of a new Presidential Administration.

It asks departments and agencies to do to the following:

  • Send no regulations to the Federal Register until a department or agency head appointed or designated by the President reviews and approves the regulation.
  • For regulations that have been sent to the Federal Register, but not yet published, they will be immediately withdrawn, subject to certain exceptions.
  • For regulations that have been published in the Federal Register but have not taken effect, there is a temporary postponement of their effective date for 60 days.
  • Regulations subject to statutory or judicial deadlines are excluded.

To read the full memorandum, please visit: http://bit.ly/2kkOVYV


Key congressional appropriators are pushing back on the Trump Administration’s efforts to cut the budgets of EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE). EPA, for instance, could see nearly $1 billion in cuts in President Trump’s first budget request to Congress. EPA was funded at $8.1 billion in FY2016, while DOE was budgeted at approximately $30 billion. The current continuing resolution at these levels continues to April 28, 2017.

Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Center for Energy and Environment and the lead for Trump’s EPA transition team, is his advisor concerning these cuts. Under consideration is $513 million from “state and tribal assistance grant” programs, $193 million from EPA climate change programs and $109 million from environment programs and management.

However, state grant programs are used by states to support their environmental agencies and will not be popular cuts.

Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation’s conservative budget blueprint is targeted at programs such as the International Trade Administration and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, as well as rolling back DOE funding for nuclear physics and advanced scientific computing research to 2008 levels, eliminating the Office of Electricity, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Fossil Energy as an effort to reduce the federal deficit. It also calls for an end to the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy; Biological and Environmental Research; Energy Innovation Hubs; and funding for the Small Business Innovative Research and Technology Transfer. At the Commerce Department, the Heritage blueprint calls for eliminating the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia.

For more information about the aforementioned proposed budget cuts, go to:

The Heritage blueprint is also available at:


President Trump’s pick to lead the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, said in his January 18th nomination hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that he affirmed climate change, but was unsure on the human role and wanted to promote “a strong and healthy” environment. He also said that it is a false paradigm that if you’re pro-energy, you’re anti-environment. Among conservatives, he has a reputation for being tough on the Obama administration, having frequently sued the EPA during the previous Administration for what he said are burdensome environmental and clean air regulations.

In his written remarks, he called for the EPA to have a cooperative and collaborative relationship with Congress to implement its direction, so that Congress may decide the proper policies while the EPA goes about enacting effective regulations that survive legal scrutiny. He also wrote that, “Environmental regulations should not occur in an economic vacuum. We can simultaneously pursue the mutual goals of environmental protection and economic growth. But that can only happen if EPA listens—listens to the views of all interested stakeholders, including the States, so that it can determine how to realize its mission while considering the pragmatic impacts of its decisions on jobs, communities, and most importantly, families.”

Lastly he supports cooperative federalism where the EPA should utilize the expertise and resources of the States and where the States are the nation’s frontline environmental implementers and enforcers.

If selected as EPA Administrator, he has no plans to recuse himself from issues over which he has sued the agency, including EPA regulations like the Clean Power Plan, the Clean Water Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule.

Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., demanded that Pruitt pledge to recuse himself from issues related to the multiple lawsuits he has brought against the agency. Pruitt declined to agree to that at this time.

To review Scott Pruitt’s testimony, please visit:http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/0e505de4-aa91-4dcc-ba23-dc9ddab01c0b/scott-pruitt-opening-statement-final-.pdf


The U.S. Department of State announced at the end of Obama’s presidency that an additional $500 million grant to support the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was being made in support of climate change programs. As the world’s largest multilateral finance institution dedicated to advancing low-emission, climate-resilient development, the GCF was created to help protect vulnerable populations and drive clean energy deployment, while doing so with a special focus on engaging the private sector and mobilizing private capital.

With over 180 countries having plans to cut emissions, there is an increase in policy and regulatory reforms to spur private sector investments in energy efficient and low-emissions technologies. The GCF supports developing nations in their efforts to achieve those objectives and to become more resilient to climate change

To learn more, go to: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/18/us-gives-green-climate-fund-additional-500-million-grant.html


Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the U.S. Department of Energy’s new report on national energy employment and urged support of energy workforce training programs. She said there was a need to work to shrink the skills gap and fill the more than 300,000 expected new, good-paying energy jobs in 2017 alone, by investing in workforce training and apprenticeship programs.

Commissioned by former Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, the Energy Jobs Strategy Council released the 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, which analyzes current and anticipated energy sector employment needs. The report found that 6.4 million Americans now work in the traditional energy and energy efficiency industries. Nationwide, the energy industry is expected to add 198,000 energy efficiency jobs, 78,000 transmission jobs, 76,000 solar and wind jobs, and 81,000 jobs in the motor vehicles sector in 2017. Yet the energy industry is facing a shortage of qualified employees to fill these high-paying jobs.

The report has a 50-state breakdown of employment needs across the aforementioned five energy sectors. To download the full report, visit: https://www.energy.gov/downloads/2017-us-energy-and-employment-report

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