January 30, 2015
Capitol Update

In this issue:

 

U.S. AND INDIA PLEDGE COOPERATION ON CLIMATE AND CLEAN ENERGY GOALS

To further support the achievement of ambitious climate and clean energy goals, the United States and India have pledged to enhance cooperation in these areas. The United States welcomes India's intention to increase the share of renewable energy in electricity generation consistent with its intended goal to increase India's solar capacity to 100 GW by 2022, and intends to support India's goal by enhancing cooperation in clean energy and climate change. The two countries already have a robust program of cooperation, including the highly successful U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) umbrella program and will expand policy dialogues and technical work on clean energy and low greenhouse gas emissions technologies.

The United States and India agreed on:

  • Enhancing Bilateral Climate Change Cooperation
  • Cooperating on Hydroflurocarbons (HFCs)
  • Expanding Partnership to Advance Clean Energy Research (PACE-R)
  • Accelerating Clean Energy Finance
  • Launching Air Quality Cooperation
  • Starting Technical Cooperation on Heavy-Duty Vehicles and Transportation Fuels
  • Demonstrating Clean Energy Initiatives on the Ground

A fact sheet of the agreement may be viewed at
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/25/fact-sheet-us-and-india-climate-and-clean-energy-cooperation

 

HOUSE PASSES THE NATURAL GAS PIPELINE PERMITTING REFORM ACT; ADMINISTRATION THREATENS VETO

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act by a bipartisan vote of 253 to 169. The legislation would expedite the construction of natural gas pipelines that deliver energy supplies to consumers. The legislation would also address the federal permitting process and enforce agency deadlines to provide for timely project approvals.

The Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act would amend the Natural Gas Act to direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve or deny a certificate of public convenience and necessity for a pre-filed project within 12 months after receiving a complete application that is ready to be processed. The legislation defines "pre-filed project" as a project for the siting, construction, expansion, or operation of a natural gas pipeline with respect to which a pre-filing docket number has been assigned by FERC pursuant to a pre-filing process established by FERC for the purpose of facilitating the formal application process for obtaining a certificate of public convenience and necessity.

In addition, H.R.161:

  • Requires the agency responsible for issuing any federal license, permit, or approval regarding the siting, construction, expansion, or operation of a project for which a certificate is sought to approve or deny issuance of the certificate within 90 days after FERC issues its final environmental document regarding the project;
  • Requires FERC to grant an agency request for a 30-day extension of the 90-day time period if the agency demonstrates that it cannot otherwise complete the process required to approve or deny the license, permit, or approval, and therefore will be compelled to deny it; and,
  • Declares that, if the agency fails to approve or deny issuance of a permit, license, or approval within the prescribed time-frame, the license, permit, or approval shall take effect upon expiration of 30 days after the period's end.

To read the full summary of the bill, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search by bill number.

Prior to the House action, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a Statement of Administration Policy stating “H.R. 161 could create conflicts with existing statutory and regulatory requirements and practices related to agencies' programs, and preclude opportunities for engaging the public and potentially impacted communities, thereby causing confusion and the risk of increased litigation, undermining the intent of the legislation... If the President were presented with H.R. 161, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

The complete Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 161 may be read at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy/

 

HOUSE SCIENCE COMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING ON UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology recently held a hearing titled Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Research and Development. The hearing reviewed research and development (R&D) performed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the area of UAS and their integration into the National Airspace System (NAS).

UAS is a general and complete term which includes aircraft as well as supporting ground, air, and communications infrastructure. UAS come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are viable for a broad range of civilian, commercial, and military applications. Current domestic use of UAS is limited to academic institutions, federal, state, and local government organizations that receive a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) and private sector entities that receive special airworthiness certificates by the FAA, and hobbyists who may only operate under tight restrictions. Typical domestic applications of UAS include border patrol, scientific research, and environmental monitoring.

Though military and civil government will likely dominate large UAS operations in the near term, the UAS market is dynamic and the commercial sector is poised for significant growth, particularly in the small UAS sector. The Teal Group, an aerospace and defense industry market intelligence firm, forecasts worldwide annual spending on UAS research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) activities and procurement rising from $6.4 billion in 2014 to $11.5 billion in 2024. Total worldwide spending for the period is forecast to amount to $91 billion. Throughout the forecast period, Teal expects the U.S. share of RDT&E to account for 65 percent of worldwide spending.

One witness, Dr. Edgar Waggoner, the Director of Integrated Aviation Systems Program at NASA, spoke about the R&D challenges which must be addressed as UAS are integrated or accommodated into the NAS, including:

  • Vulnerabilities in command and control of UAS operations;
  • Inability to detect, sense, and avoid other aircraft;
  • Lack of technological standards; and,
  • Potential Loss of Jobs and Industry Growth to Lagging International Competitiveness.

Additional information on the hearing, including hearing charter, witness testimony and an archived webcast, is available at http://science.house.gov/hearing/unmanned-aerial-systems-research-and-development

 

ENERGY SECRETARY MONIZ UNVEILS MORE THAN $55 MILLION TO ADVANCE FUEL EFFICIENT VEHICLE TECHNOLOGIES

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz recently announced more than $55 million to develop and deploy cutting-edge vehicle technologies that strengthen the clean energy economy. These technologies will play a key role in increasing fuel efficiency and reducing petroleum consumption, and support the Energy Department's EV Everywhere Grand Challenge to make plug-in electric vehicles as affordable to own and operate as today's gasoline-powered vehicles by 2022.

The funding opportunity will go towards a wide range of research, development, and demonstration projects that aim to reduce the price and improve the efficiency of plug-in electric, alternative fuel, and conventional vehicles. Topics addressed include:

  • Advanced batteries (including manufacturing processes) and electric drive R&D;
  • Lightweight materials;
  • Advanced combustion engine and enabling technologies R&D; and,
  • Fuels technologies (dedicated or dual-fuel natural gas engine technologies.

The Department will fund cost-shared projects with private industry, national laboratories, and university led-teams. For more information and application requirements, visit
https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/Default.aspx#FoaIdde6e1324-adfd-430a-bfef-198efa7bd9b6

In addition, the Energy Department has announced up to $35 million to advance fuel cell and hydrogen technologies, including enabling the early adoption of fuel cell applications, such as light duty fuel cell electric vehicles.  This new funding opportunity announcement will be available in early February.

 

NRC REPORT: ENERGY DEPARTMENT SHOULD RETAIN SOLE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE NATION'S NUCLEAR SECURITY LABORATORIES

A newly released report from the National Research Council, “Aligning the Governance Structure of the NNSA Laboratories to Meet 21st Century National Security Challenges,” is an independent assessment regarding the transition of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) laboratories - Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories - to multiagency, federally funded research and development centers with direct sustainment and sponsorship by multiple national security agencies.

This report makes recommendations for the governance of NNSA laboratories to better align with the evolving national security landscape and the laboratories' increasing engagement with the other national security agencies, while simultaneously encouraging the best technical solutions to national problems from the entire range of national security establishments. According to this report, the Department of Energy should remain the sole sponsor of the NNSA laboratories as federally funded research and development centers.

The NNSA laboratories will remain a critically important resource to meet U.S. national security needs for many decades to come. The recommendations of “Aligning the Governance Structure of the NNSA Laboratories to Meet 21st Century National Security Challenges” will improve the governance of the laboratories and strengthen their strategic relationship with the non-DOE national security agencies.

To read the report, go to http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy/

 

NIST MEETING: CYBERSECURITY IS A KEY INGREDIENT IN THE MANUFACTURING MIX

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is bringing experts together to discuss the cybersecurity challenges faced by the rapidly developing field of direct digital manufacturing (DDM) and to discuss methods for improvement. The February 3, 2015, meeting at the NIST Gaithersburg campus will inform NIST’s future efforts in the area.

DDM uses computer-controlled processes to streamline manufacturing by cutting out time-consuming and costly steps such as developing precise molds or cutting dies. Additive manufacturing and 3-D printing are some of the most well-known examples of DDM and are used to create physical objects directly from digital files. Today the technology is used to create a variety of products including bone replacements, airplane parts and even action figures using one’s very own image. In the future, it may be possible to “print” virtually anything you could want, from food to complex electronic components.

NIST conducts research in both additive manufacturing and cybersecurity. The symposium will explore cybersecurity needs for DDM, including ensuring the protection of intellectual property and the integrity of printers, elements being printed and design data. Speakers from industry, academia and government will discuss the industry’s current state, cybersecurity risks and solutions, and implications for information and communications technology supply chain risk management. Experts will share lessons learned, and participants will assist in identifying specific vulnerabilities and presenting possible solutions or ways forward.

To register and learn more details for “Cybersecurity for Direct Digital Manufacturing,” please see the event page at http://nist.gov/itl/csd/cybersecurity-for-direct-digital-manufacturing-symposium.cfm

 

EPA OFFERS GRANT FUNDS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION IN THE NORTHWEST

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting grant applications for its Environmental Education Grants Program. The grants seek to support locally-focused environmental education projects that promote environmental awareness and stewardship. Successful applicants will submit projects that design and demonstrate environmental education practices, methods, or techniques. Applications are due on March 6, 2015.

In 2014, the EPA Northwest regional office awarded two grants:

  • The Corvallis Environmental Research Center received a grant worth $200,000 to develop an online tool for students in Oregon and Washington to see real-time data about how their individual actions reduce carbon dioxide emissions and how their school-wide participation in the program collectively reduces emissions.
  • The second grant went to Educational School District #101, located in Spokane, Washington, to engage students in grades four through eight in hands-on community environmental projects. The grant funds teacher professional development workshops that include instruction on environmental education fundamentals and sections on the indicators, causes and impacts of climate change.

The EPA Northwest office expects to award three grants, each worth $91,000. The total estimated funding for this competitive opportunity is approximately $2,730,000 nationwide.

For more information on the grants and instructions to apply, visit
http://www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-12/documents/2014_ee_local_grants_rfp.pdf

 

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

 

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