January 19, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:


The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing this week to examine the domestic and global energy outlook from the perspective of the International Energy Agency (IEA).  Senators received testimony from Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, who testified on recent trends in global energy markets and IEA efforts to promote international energy security, cooperation, and market stability. 

In her opening statement, Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) praised recent accomplishments in creating new opportunities for energy investment in the United States. “Allowing for increased exploration and production in the United States—as we did at the end of last year, with the opening of Alaska’s 1002 Area—will provide for our long-term security and allow us to extend our influence in world markets. At the same time, we know that these markets are cyclical, and that prices could rise substantially in the future if we do not take proactive steps to spur investment and supply. Just last March, the IEA warned that global oil supply could lag after 2020, if new investments are not made in the near term. That is a warning for all of us. I know the IEA has continued to conduct significant research on this matter and look forward to delving deeper into it here today.” 

In his testimony, Dr. Birol, noted four major shifts in global energy markets in the coming decades: “1) the U.S. becoming the undisputed global oil and gas leader; 2) the rapid deployment and falling costs of clean energy technologies; 3) the shift to a more services-oriented economy and a cleaner energy mix in China; and 4) the growing electrification of energy.”

Senator Murkowski and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) also noted the bipartisan agreement they have reached in the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017, S. 1460.  The new bill builds on the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, which passed the Senate with 85 votes but was not taken up by the House of Representatives at the end of last year. House Energy & Commerce leaders are turning this week to Department of Energy restructuring and reform priorities, as well as expiring energy tax credits.

To view an archived webcase of the hearing, visit:  https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings-and-business-meetings?ID=17EC6C2F-F572-4E03-8DB1-C07F6339557E

For more information on the Senate’s energy package, S. 1460, visit: https://www.energy.senate.gov/public//index.cfm//bipartisan-energy-bill


The first week of January, the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced it would hold a series of hearings to discuss the “modernization” of the Department of Energy (DOE). The first of these hearings took place January 9th, with ten witnesses, including DOE Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette and all three DOE Under Secretaries.

These hearings followed DOE Secretary Rick Perry’s own December 15th announcement to modernize the DOE, stemming from the Trump administration’s priorities of achieving “energy dominance”, enhancing security, and "ensuring the DOE remains the leader in scientific innovation."

The Trump administration has indicated that the DOE should shift focus away from “later-stage” R&D and technology commercialization activities, leaving this to industry, and limit focus to “early-stage” projects. DOE’s prioritization of R&D programming, in conjunction with the funding each office is allotted by Congress, will ultimately determine the extent of the agency’s research portfolio.  

Despite the administration’s preference, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in both the House and Senate are uniting to push legislation that encourages greater collaboration between DOE and industry. House leaders are also working this week to finalize a package of expiring energy tax credits, with renewed focus on carbon capture and storage credits, as well as a push from automakers for expanded transmission lines to feed more wind and solar into the grid.  General Motors plans to go fully renewable by 2050 and expects 20 percent of its global electric power demand to be met with renewable energy by the end of 2018. 

For further information on the January 9 hearing, see the January 12 edition of Capitol Update.

More information on DOE Reform initiatives can be found here: https://energycommerce.house.gov/hearings/discussion-draft-energy-star-reform-act-2017-h-r-3477-ceiling-fan-energy-conservation-harmonization-act/


FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., says the FDA is beginning a new era of 3D printing of medical products in providing a comprehensive regulatory pathway that will keep pace with advances and facilitate greater access to safe and effective innovations taking shape.

Already, the FDA has reviewed more than 100 medical devices on the market that were manufactured on 3D printers. Examples include knee replacements and implants designed specifically for a patient’s anatomy to fit like a missing piece into a patient’s skull. 3D printing is also applicable to drugs, as a 3D printer can create a more porous matrix compared with traditional drug manufacturing, thereby enabling the drug to dissolve more rapidly and work faster.

The FDA has also put state-of-the-art 3D printers in its facilities so that FDA scientists are able to conduct research to determine how the 3D printing impacts the drug’s ingredients.  Having direct access to the manufacturing process will allow the FDA to better regulate and asses 3D printed drugs and initiate a quality control process for their manufacturing. FDA engineers are also use these 3D facilitates to investigate the effect of design changes on the safety and performance of devices, and to determine how iterative changes alter the device’s fit and functionality.

To read the FDA’s new guidance on the technical aspects of 3D printing, please visit: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/UCM499809.pdf


A new report recently released by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) warns that the U.S.’s weak participation in the ITER fusion project could have a negative impact on its fusion energy technology development. The report cautions that the U.S. “risks being left behind in the high-risk, high-reward pursuit of bountiful emissions-free energy.”

Since 2003, the U.S. has contributed $1.1 billion to ITER. However, according to ITER spokesperson Laban Coblentz, the U.S. didn’t pay any dues in 2016 or 2017, resulting in a debt of $65 million, and an unpaid 2017 in-kind contribution of $50 million. If the U.S. repays all its dues in 2018, the ongoing ITER machine construction should remain on schedule.

The report also outlines factors threatening the future of US nuclear energy research, including lack of national strategic approach to developing a fusion energy demonstration device:  The report cautions that strategic planning guides national research and innovation programs, helps to engage industrial partners, and sets national priorities, enabling research partnerships to develop key areas of expertise.  Conversely, the NAS authors note that, “The absence of such a nationally endorsed strategic plan for delivery of fusion energy in the United States inhibits the long-term planning of all participants in the fusion endeavor in the United States, from universities, to national laboratories, to industrial partners. Without a long-term plan, the United States risks being overtaken as our partners advance the science and technology required to deliver fusion energy.”

For further information, access the report here: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24971/interim-report-of-the-committee-on-a-strategic-plan-for-us-burning-plasma-research


The IEA Clean Coal Centre recently released its report on “Environmental and Other Effects of Mining and Transport.” The report discusses the environmental impact of the coal life-cycle, from the condition of the land pre-mining, the transportation and processing of coal, to the closure and sealing of retired mines. These impacts are juxtaposed with the guidelines currently in place, such as the United Nation’s  (UN) Berlin Guidelines, and UN Environment Programme’s “voluntary guidelines for activities related to Energy production” to highlight mining practices that minimize harmful environmental impacts as much as possible.

The social and political impacts of mining are also examined, using specific mines in a variety of countries as case studies. As the UN Economic Commission for Europe Committee on Sustainable Development explained, “Until recently, social and environmental factors have rarely been considered in the classification of natural resources. Their importance has grown considerably in the last few years. Many projects have been delayed or cancelled because they failed to meet social or environmental expectations, even though they met all other requirements.”

Read the report here: https://gallery.mailchimp.com/397422a79063537659926e34f/files/98e741c2-0309-4ecf-9a86-fdc8f89d4993/Environmental_and_other_effects_of_coal_mining_and_transport_ccc281.pdf


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced nearly $25 million for eight organizations to further the installation of cost-effective, highly-efficient, combined heat and power (CHP) technologies. CHP supports economic development, instills resiliency, and provides solutions for modernizing energy generation and delivery.

Similarly, CHP produces both electricity and thermal energy onsite, lessening the line losses and strain on grid infrastructure and represents approximately 8% of U.S. generating capacity.

The selected organizations will become regional CHP Technical Assistance Partnerships (CHP TAPs) supporting strategies to increase resilience and improving grid and electric delivery reliability. CHP TAPs located across the country will also offer assistance for evaluating the economic development, job creation, energy cost savings, and continuity and reliability of proposed CHP systems.

For more information about CHP and EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) visit: https://energy.gov/eere/amo/advanced-manufacturing-office


A new National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded study examines disparities in exposure to air pollution by race-ethnicity and by socioeconomic status, including the impacts of declining transportation-related air pollutant emissions.  The new study was designed to estimate changes over time (2000 to 2010) in disparities in exposure to outdoor concentrations of a transportation-related air pollutant, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), in the United States.

Previous U.S.-based air pollution environmental justice studies have focused on exposure to industrial air pollution or proximity to polluting industrial facilities. Those studies found that exposures decreased for all race-ethnicity groups over time, but that African Americans remained more exposed than whites and Hispanics "by a factor of ∼50%”, according to authors of the new study.

The new study found that estimated annual average NO2 concentrations decreased during the 2000-2010 periodfor all of the race-ethnicity and socioeconomic status groups. Even though the national nonwhite–white mean NO2 concentration disparity decreased from a difference of 5.0 ppb in 2000 to 2.9 ppb in 2010, estimated mean NO2 concentrations remained 37% higher for nonwhites than whites in 2010 (40% higher in 2000), relative NO2 exposure disparities persisted. There were higher NO2 concentrations for nonwhites than whites in 2010.

The study is available at: https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/EHP959.alt_.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.