January 22, 2015
Capitol Update

In this issue:



In the annual State of the Union speech, President Obama addressed a wide variety of topics, including transportation, research and development (R&D), and education. 

President Obama devoted a small part of the speech to transportation and infrastructure, including a push to enact a long-term highway bill. The administration has put forward a $302 billion, five-year proposal paid for by using an infusion of one-time money from a tax overhaul. Linking transportation and tax changes has some support in Congress, but it is unclear whether there is the kind of political will for lawmakers to pass such an ambitious piece of legislation. Obama specifically mentioned spending money on ports, bridges, trains and a faster internet as projects that would boost the economy.

The President also discussed how America's long-term economic competitiveness and growth depend on robust investments in research and development (R&D), which provide the foundation needed to further grow the economy.  For this reason, the President called for a major increase in R&D investments, including precision medicine, combatting antibiotic resistance, and the President’s signature BRAIN Initiative.

The President mentioned an upcoming announcement which will launch Next-Generation High Schools that will be laboratories for cutting-edge teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), with a focus on preparing many more women and students of color. The Administration will also host a Summit on Next-Generation High Schools later in the year. Additionally, the President proposed a new American Technical Training Fund that will help community colleges and other institutions develop programs that have strong employer partnerships and include work-based learning opportunities for students to lead to better employment outcomes. 

“I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs – converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay.  Last month, we launched a new spacecraft as part of a re-energized space program that will send American astronauts to Mars…Now, the truth is, when it comes to issues like infrastructure and basic research, I know there’s bipartisan support in this chamber.  Members of both parties have told me so.  Where we too often run onto the rocks is how to pay for these investments.”

Additional information on the State of the Union can be found on the PPEC under “Washington Insider” at http://ppec.asme.org/washington-insider/



Earlier this month, the President announced the latest in a series of partnerships aimed at boosting advanced manufacturing, fostering American innovation, and attracting well-paying jobs that will strengthen the middle class. After a decade of decline, American manufacturing is coming back, adding 786,000 new jobs since February 2010. This new action is the kind of investment the nation needs to build on this progress, creating the foundation needed for American manufacturing growth and competitiveness in the years to come.

The Department of Energy and a consortium of 122 companies, nonprofits, and universities led by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville will invest more than $250 million - $70 million in federal funds and more than $180 million in non-federal funds – to launch a Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Advanced Composites.

In addition to announcing the new hub, the President applauded the recent passage of bipartisan legislation in Congress that takes a significant step toward creating a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) consistent with his vision to strengthen the resurgence of American manufacturing and help to create new, 21st century job opportunities for American workers in high-demand sectors.

The President’s full remarks can be reviewed at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/manufacturing-innovation-competitiveness/

A fact sheet on the announcement may be read at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/09/fact-sheet-president-obama-announces-new-manufacturing-innovation-hub-kn

Additional information on NNMI is available at http://manufacturing.gov/nnmi_overview.html



The Department of Energy recently announced that its Illinois Basin-Decatur Project successfully captured and stored one million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and injected it into a deep saline formation. The project is part of the development phase of the Department’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships initiative, which is helping develop and deploy carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies across the country, and continuing the United States on a path towards a low carbon future. 
The carbon dioxide is captured from the Archer Daniels Midland Company ethanol-production facility in Decatur, Illinois, and is compressed before traveling across a mile-long pipeline and injected approximately 7,000 feet below the surface into the Mount Simon Sandstone formation. Since beginning in November 2011, the injection test performed better than expected, sustaining pressure increases well below regulatory limits. Over the course of 100 years, the injected CO2 is projected to remain hundreds of feet below a 300-foot thick shale formation that will act as a seal and inhibit upward migration of the CO2.
The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium, led by the Illinois State Geological Survey, is evaluating CCS options for the 60,000-square-mile Illinois Basin, which underlies most of Illinois, southwestern Indiana, and western Kentucky.

For additional information, visit http://www.sequestration.org/



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has outlined a series of steps it plans to take to address methane and smog-forming VOC emissions from the oil and gas industry, in order to ensure continued growth in U.S. oil and natural gas production. The agency’s strategy will reduce methane pollution from new sources in this rapidly growing industry, reduce ozone-forming pollutants from existing sources in areas that do not meet federal ozone health standards, and build on work that states and industry are doing to address emissions from existing sources elsewhere.

Methane –the key constituent of natural gas – is a greenhouse gas with a climate change potential more than 25 times greater than that of carbon dioxide. Nearly 30 percent of methane emissions in the U.S. in 2012 came from oil production and the production, processing, transmission and distribution of natural gas. While methane emissions from the oil and gas industry have declined 16 percent since 1990, they are projected to increase by about 25 percent over the next decade if additional steps are not taken to reduce emissions from this rapidly growing industry.

EPA’s strategy is intended to help avoid this anticipated increase in methane emissions from new sources, and will use both regulatory and voluntary approaches to accomplish this goal. The agency also will extend requirements for addressing emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to additional sources, further reducing this key ingredient of ground-level ozone (smog).

For additional information on EPA’s 2012 New Source Performance Standards, visit: http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy/



The National Academies of Science (NAS) is now accepting proposals for its 2015
Gulf Research Program exploratory grants program.  Many areas of research and development pertaining to the enhancement of oil system safety, human health, and the environment of the Gulf of Mexico and other offshore energy production regions could benefit from innovations. Innovative ideas or technologies often need time and testing to develop and evolve.

The Gulf Research Program exploratory grants aim to jumpstart innovations and transformative ideas by providing seed money for research in its early conceptual phase, activities that can accelerate concept to testing, or development of novel approaches. The funding opportunity encourages innovators to explore and test ideas, collect preliminary data, or use the lessons learned from failed ideas to change course. The grants also could support the use of novel approaches, application of new expertise, or engagement of non-traditional disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives to break new ground on an old or a new problem.

The Gulf Research Program welcomes proposals from non-federal organizations on behalf of all qualified scientists, engineers, health professionals, and educators on one of the following topics:

  • Exploring Approaches for Effective Education and Training of Workers in the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry and Health Professions; and,
  • Linking Ecosystem Services Related to and Influenced by Oil and Gas Production to Human Health and Wellbeing.

Key dates associated with the proposal process are as follows:

  • January 29, 2015, 8:00pm ET: Letter of Intent Due Date;
  • No later than February 1, 2015: Online Submission of Full Proposal Opens to Applicants Who Submitted a Letter of Intent; and,
  • March 30, 2015, 8:00pm ET: Proposal Due Date

Detailed information on how to submit a proposal is available at http://www.nationalacademies.org/gulf/grants/index.html



Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has announced members selected to serve as subcommittee chairmen and vice chairmen in the 114th Congress. They are as follows:

  • Full Committee: Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX); Vice-Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK); Chairman Emeritus F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI).
  • Subcommittee on Energy: Chairman Randy Weber (R-TX); Vice-Chairman Dan Newhouse* (R-WA).
  • Subcommittee on Environment: Chairman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK); Vice-Chairman Bruce Westerman* (R-AR).
  • Subcommittee on Oversight: Chairman Barry Loudermilk* (R-GA); Vice-Chairman Bill Johnson (R-OH).
  • Subcommittee on Research and Technology: Chairwoman Barbara Comstock* (R-VA); Vice-Chairman John Moolenaar* (R-MI).
  • Subcommittee on Space: Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-MS); Vice-Chairman Mo Brooks (R-AL).

*- Denotes newly-elected Members of Congress.  Congressman Westerman is an agricultural engineer.  Congressman Moolenaar previously worked for The Dow Chemical Company.

For daily coverage of developments on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, bookmark: http://ppec.asme.org


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