January 22, 2016
Capitol Update

In this issue:


Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) has sponsored the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA), which is being introduced as a stand-alone bill with potential to be included in a larger energy package in the Senate. The measure has bipartisan support as it is co-sponsored by Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey).

NEICA would require the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to carry out a program enabling the testing and demonstration of new reactor concepts proposed by nuclear innovators in the private sector. The DOE would also report to Congress on the mission need for a versatile neutron source, including fast neutron spectrum irradiation capability—another potential mission for INL researchers.

NEICA is the Senate companion to the House measure of the same name, H.R. 4084, offered by Representatives Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Randy Weber (R-Texas). Senator Crapo’s measure builds upon the House companion to incorporate the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. H.R. 4084 was approved last week by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Science, Space and Technology. Refer to: https://science.house.gov/news/press-releases/committee-approves-bipartisan-nuclear-energy-bill


Last week, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz announced the release of DOE’s comprehensive new Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan, a blueprint for modernizing the grid. The Secretary also announced the award of up to $220 million over three years, subject to Congressional appropriations, to DOE’s National Laboratories and partners to support critical research and development in advanced storage systems, clean energy integration, standards and test procedures, and a number of other key grid modernization areas. Additional programs, initiatives, and funding opportunity announcements related to the Grid Modernization Initiative will be announced in the coming days.

The Grid Modernization Initiative represents a comprehensive DOE effort to help shape the future of our nation’s grid and solve the challenges of integrating conventional and renewable sources with energy storage and smart buildings, while ensuring that the grid is resilient and secure to withstand growing cyber security and climate challenges. The announcements fall under the Grid Modernization Initiative’s framework:

  • The Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program was developed by DOE in close collaboration with a wide range of key external partners. The program lays out a blueprint for the Department’s research, development, and demonstration agenda to enable a modernized grid, building on concepts and recommendations from DOE’s recently released Quadrennial Energy Review and Quadrennial Technology Review.
  • The up to $220 million in research and development funding falls under the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium. The consortium involves 14 DOE National Laboratories and dozens of industry, academia, and state and local government agency partners across the country. These funds are being awarded in response to a challenge to the National Laboratories to establish a comprehensive grid-related research and development effort to address a range of emerging challenges and opportunities in the nation’s power grid.


Find more information on the Grid Modernization Initiative at Energy.gov and on the selected National Laboratories partnership projects at: http://energy.gov/doe-grid-modernization-laboratory-consortium-gmlc-awards


The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), an advisory committee that reports to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Congress, has issued its 2015 annual report examining NASA’s safety performance over the past year, highlighting accomplishments, issues, and concerns.

The report, released on January 13th, is based on the panel’s 2015 fact-finding and quarterly public meetings; “insight” visits and meetings; direct observations of NASA operations and decision-making processes; discussions with NASA management, employees and contractors; and the panel members’ own experience.

The 2015 report highlights include:

  • Funding adequacy and profiles;
  • Accretion of risk that is impacting safety;
  • Program assessments -- Exploration Systems Development, Commercial Crew Program, and International Space Station;
  • Accomplishments in 2015; and,
  • Other topics of interest, including the Journey to Mars plan, NASA’s Aircraft Management Information System, and human spaceflight mishap investigation planning.

For more information about the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, and to view the 2015 report, visit: http://oiir.hq.nasa.gov/asap/index.html


From 2003 to 2013, the number of scientists and engineers residing in the United States rose from 21.6 million to 29 million. This 10-year increase included significant growth in the number of immigrant scientists and engineers, from 3.4 million to 5.2 million.

Immigrants went from making up 16 percent of the science and engineering workforce to 18 percent, according to a report from the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). In 2013, the latest year for which numbers are available, 63 percent of U.S. immigrant scientists and engineers were naturalized citizens, while 22 percent were permanent residents and 15 percent were temporary visa holders.

Of the immigrant scientists and engineers in the United States in 2013:

  • 57 percent were born in Asia;
  • 20 percent were born in North America (excluding the United States), Central America, the Caribbean, or South America;
  • 16 percent were born in Europe;
  • Six percent were born in Africa; and,
  • Fewer than one percent were born in Oceania.

Among Asian countries, India continued its trend of being the top country of birth for immigrant scientists and engineers, with 950,000 out of Asia’s total 2.96 million. India’s 2013 figure represented an 85 percent increase from 2003. Also since 2003, the number of scientists and engineers from the Philippines increased 53 percent and the number from China, including Hong Kong and Macau, increased 34 percent.

The NCSES report found that immigrant scientists and engineers were more likely to have earned post-baccalaureate degrees than their U.S.-born counterparts. In 2013, 32 percent of immigrant scientists reported their highest degree was a master’s (compared to 29 percent of U.S.-born counterparts) and nine percent reported it was a doctorate (compared to four percent of U.S.-born counterparts). The most common fields of study for immigrant scientist and engineers in 2013 were engineering, computer and mathematical sciences, and social and related sciences.

Over 80 percent of immigrant scientists and engineers were employed in 2013, the same percentage as their U.S.-born counterparts. Among the immigrants in the science and engineering workforce, the largest share (18 percent) worked in computer and mathematical sciences, while the second-largest share (8 percent) worked in engineering. Three occupations -- life scientist, computer and mathematics scientist and social and related scientist -- saw substantial immigrant employment growth from 2003 to 2013.

The report is available at: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2015/nsf15328/


Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honors individuals, businesses and organizations that have contributed significantly to improving the environment and protecting public health in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally recognized Indian Nations. EPA is encouraging nominations for this annual award. Winners will be honored at an awards event on May 13, 2016 at EPA’s regional office in Manhattan. The Agency is accepting nominations for its Environmental Champion Awards until March 1, 2016.

The awards recognize achievement in six categories:

  • Business and Industry 
  • Individual Citizen 
  • Non-Profit Organization, Environmental or Community Group 
  • Environmental Education
  • Federal, State, Local or Tribal Government or Agency
  • Media

For award criteria, prior winners and nomination instructions, visit EPA’s Environmental Champion Award webpage at: http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/environmental-champion-awards

Visit the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/ for daily news and policy developments, including the following:

ASME Government Relations
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20036
Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations