January 12, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:


For the past four decades, ASME has sponsored over 119 Federal Fellows who have served in the Executive Office of the White House and the US Congress applying their engineering expertise to complex issues. ASME Federal Government Fellowships are a life-changing experience resulting in new professional qualifications and providing Fellows with the satisfaction of having served the public good at the highest levels.

ASME Members with strong backgrounds in “Energy” and “Bioengineering,” have until January 31, 2018 to apply for our 2018-2019 ASME Congressional Fellowships. Additional Information about the Fellows Programs is available on our website and in our “Engineering the Greater Good” Brochure.” Apply online today!

If you’re interested in learning more about the ASME Federal Government Fellowship Program, visit our November 2017 webinar featuring two Fellows—one in the U. S. Senate and another in the U.S. House of Representatives – discussing what it is like to be an ASME Federal Government Fellow in Congress. The Fellows provided valuable personal insights on their experiences working on Capitol Hill, including the expectations associated with managing a broad range of diverse issues, writing legislation, preparing floor remarks for their Member of Congress and meeting with constituents.

The webinar recording is available at: http://tinyurl.com/yd7hhgds

Please contact Ellen Kuo, kuoe@asme.org, if you need any assistance.


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) this week rejected the Department of Energy’s (DOE) September 29th proposal on grid reliability and resilience pricing for coal and nuclear power plants. While DOE’s proposed rule was closed without action, FERC noted that it was initiating a new effort to “holistically examine the resilience of the bulk power system,” and that resilience issues remain an important topic under the Commission’s consideration. 

FERC’s new proceeding (Docket No. AD18-7-000), will specifically evaluate the resilience of the bulk power system in the regions operated by regional transmission organizations (RTO) and independent system operators (ISO). In the new order, FERC directs each RTO and ISO to submit information to the Commission on certain resilience issues. 

The goals of this new proceeding are to develop a common understanding among the Commission, industry and others of what resilience of the bulk power system means and requires; to understand how each regional transmission organization and independent system operator assesses resilience in its geographic footprint; and to use this information to evaluate whether additional Commission action regarding resilience is appropriate.

FERC has taken other steps in recent years to address resilience and reliability issues affecting the bulk power system. For example, in response to the increasing use of natural gas for electric generation, FERC conducted a multi-year effort to evaluate the coordination of wholesale natural gas and electricity market scheduling, resulting in significant improvements to those scheduling and coordination processes and improve reliability of the grid. 

FERC expects to review the additional material promptly. Each regional market operator must submit the newly required information within 60 days of issuance of the order. FERC also invited other interested entities to respond to the market operators’ comments.

Read FERC’s full order terminating DOE’s proposed rulemaking at: https://www.ferc.gov/CalendarFiles/20180108161614-RM18-1-000.pdf.


On January 9th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on Department of Energy (DOE) Modernization: Advancing DOE’s Mission for National, Economic, and Energy Security of the United States. The hearing was broken up into two panels with the first panel comprised of Department of Energy (DOE) Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette, and Undersecretaries Mark Menezes, Paul Dabbar, and Frank Klotz. The second panel was comprised of a series of subject matter experts.

In opening remarks, Chairman Walden articulated some of the modernization challenges the DOE faces in protecting critical infrastructures against both physical and cyber-attacks, and asked panelists for recommendations on evolving cyber threats.  Panel member Sarah Ladislaw, Director of Director of the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies provided seven recommendations to assist the agency in modernizing and preparing for future challenges, recommending that the DOE take a leadership role in conducting analysis regarding the safety, reliability, and optimization of the nation’s energy infrastructure, as well as promoting energy efficiency, innovation, and supply. 

Other witnesses testified that despite the U.S.’s status as a key energy producer, the nation is still falling behind China in many respects. Panel member Dan Reicher, Senior Fellow at Brookings and Executive Director of Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, explained that China is currently the leader in clean energy, producing 70 percent of the world’s solar panels. China is also a leader in manufacturing and development of key energy technologies, and is increasing its capabilities in R&D and commercialization.

However, Reicher emphasized technology development as a key competitive advantage for the United States, and urged support for DOE’s collaboration with the standards setting community as part of DOE’s efforts to advance technology development and innovation. DOE and Congress are currently considering reforms to DOE’s Appliance and Equipment Standards program, but Reicher urged caution in reforming the current system, as major changes may undermine regulatory predictability for manufacturers. 

An archived video of the hearing can be found at this link: https://energycommerce.house.gov/hearings/doe-modernization-advancing-mission-national-economic-energy-security-united-states/


The U.S. Geological Survey recently reported that Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve and adjacent lands have close to 8.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil, much more than the original 2010 estimate of 1.5 million barrels.

The revised numbers also show an estimated 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the NPR-A, located on Alaska’s North Slope. In totality, the USGS estimated that there is about 17.6 billion barrels of oil in both the NPR-A, Western Beaufort Sea and adjacent lands.

Besides oil in Alaska, a partnership between Federal and State governmental agencies and the Government of Japan was formed to explore the natural gas hydrate potential of the state. Natural gas hydrates are hydrocarbons which have solid crystalline structures filled with super-concentrated methane gas. This research is focused on the Alaska North Slope, where a previous 2008 USGS assessment of undiscovered gas hydrate resources estimated that 85.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be recovered.

Congress’ recently passed tax reform bill includes a provision to allow for drilling in ANWR. However it will likely be many years before oil is potentially extracted.

To read more about the rich reserves of Alaska for oil, please visit https://energy.usgs.gov/GeneralInfo/EnergyNewsroomAll/TabId/770/ArtMID/3941/ArticleID/1342/New-Interior-Department-Survey-Shows-Significant-Increase-in-Recoverable-Energy-Resources-in-Federal-State-and-Tribal-Lands-and-Waters-in-Alaska.aspx  and for natural gas hydrates, visit: https://www.usgs.gov/news/exploring-gas-hydrates-a-future-energy-source


A new FAA study, The UAS Air-to-Air Collision Severity Evaluation Final Report, finds that drones that collide with aircrafts are more damaging than bird strikes. The study suggests that new aircraft manufacturing standards be developed and required so that planes can better withstand such strikes. Another recommendation was that technology needs to be improved to help drones detect and avoid planes.

The team of researchers from four universities—Mississippi State University, Montana State University, Ohio State University, and Wichita State University—conducted the research, using drones weighing 2.7lb to 8lb over a 14 month period under 140 scenarios. The results were that "a significant economic burden" is produced for aircraft operators, due to downtime and repairs to items such as windscreens on aircraft.

A similar study was performed in the United Kingdom for its own government. That study suggests that drone strikes could cause critical damage to planes. The UK government has since proposed licensing for all drone operators from next year onward.

To learn more about the FAA’s efforts in this area, please visit: https://www.faa.gov/news/updates/?newsId=89246  and to download the report, please visit http://www.assureuas.org/projects/deliverables/sUASAirborneCollisionReport.php


BioFab USA held its 2018 Winter Summit on Accelerating the Commercialization of Engineered Tissues in Manchester, NH, from January 4-5. Dean Kamen, Executive Director of ARMI—the Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute, which is a member-institute of the federal Manufacturing USA program—provided the opening keynote speech, in which he discussed the need for greater collaboration amongst technology sectors to strengthen manufacturing. He later commented on the role of ARMI as convener, not only for these different technologies, but also for industry, academia, and government to come together to address a large-scale technological challenge that holds immense benefits for the U.S. This proved to be a common theme reiterated by many of the presenters at BIOFABUSA. 

ARMI’s collaborative efforts also include to standards development activities. While the FDA is working on standards development and increasing regulatory acceptance, there remains a need for coordinated action and additional standards development between the FDA, industry, and other stakeholders. ARMI is working to ensure all players work together to develop these standards and provide common base-level requirements in the future, avoiding the need for every manufacturer to start at square one when developing their products.

In addition to public-private collaborative efforts, the ARMI Winter Summit focused on the critical need for workforce development paired with increased automation in industry. To tackle the issue of appropriately scaling up, it is imperative to have a workforce that can seamlessly integrate with automation efforts, having each compliment the other. As ARMI is a DOD-led Manufacturing USA institute, there was discussion around filling the workforce gap by giving our veterans an opportunity to gain the hard-skills they need to enter such a field upon leaving military service. Veterans have a swath of soft skills well suited to the manufacturing industry, such as the ability to work in teams, follow instructions, and problem solve. Many universities such as the University of Minnesota and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) are also offering programs and courses that prepare students for successful careers in the manufacturing industry.

Despite all of the work still to be done, there have been many advances in engineering, which in turn, have had a positive impact on other industries. In her address on the second day of the event, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reinforced this point, stating that the views and goals of the manufacturing industry encapsulate the “kind of visionary perspective that is going to lead the world…[which is why] it is important to support scientific advancement at all levels.”

Further information about BioFabUSA can be found here: https://www.armiusa.org/about-us


On December 18, 2017 the White House released the National Security Strategy of the United States. The Strategy discussed the importance of reducing the regulatory burdens that stifle growth and increase the costs of developing new technologies. The Strategy also stated the Administration’s intentions to prioritize emerging technologies and incentivize private sector growth. Emphasis was placed on private sector growth as it helps the U.S. maintain its economic competitive advantage and foster further growth through cross collaboration between the Department of Defense and the private sector.

The Strategy further pledged to invest in early stage R&D that focuses on more efficient processes and eschew the archaic processes that slow innovation and hinder the U.S.’s ability to remain ahead of the pack. Government agencies must adopt a more aggressive R&&D policy that rewards rapid fielding and risk taking, a notion often supported and advocated for by industry.

The importance of STEM education was heavily recognized, backed by statements of support for apprenticeships and workforce development programs that provide American workers with the requisite training to go into these fields. In further efforts to attract federal STEM employees, the Strategy discussed initiatives that will facilitate the recruitment and retention of these employees, such as competitive salaries and rapid hiring.

For more information, the report can be accessed at this link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf.

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 510
Washington, DC 20036
Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations

Paul Fakes is the Regulatory and Government Relations Manager, Technology Policy. He covers Standards and Energy and Environment.

Samantha Fijacko is the Senior Government Relations Representative. She covers Advanced Manufacturing, Robotics and R&D.

Anne Nadler is the Government Relations Representative. She covers Bioengineering, STEM Education and R&D.