June 2, 2014
Capitol Update

In this issue:

 

ADMINISTRATION REPORT DETAILS NATION'S ENERGY STRATEGY

In a new report released by the Council of Economic Advisers, the White House details President Obama's "all of the above" energy strategy as well as the administration's efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

"The President's plan is three-pronged: to support economic growth and job creation, to enhance energy security, and to lay the foundation for -- and take critical steps towards -- a low-carbon energy future," the White House said in a statement.

The report comes as the administration prepares to propose major new rules to lower power plants' greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama framed climate change as "a creeping national security crisis" during a major foreign policy speech at the U.S. Military Academy's graduation ceremony.

In the new report, the White House points to increased production across sectors like oil, natural gas and renewables. The administration is supporting those trends through "environmentally responsible" production of oil and natural gas, the White House said, while advancing the growth of energy sources with low or zero carbon emissions like wind, solar, other renewables and nuclear power.

The White House notes that natural gas consumption has risen 18 percent since 2005; total energy from wind, solar and geothermal has more than doubled since 2009; and the United States is a leading producer of petroleum and natural gas. Meanwhile, the United States has cut its total carbon dioxide emissions more than any other nation since 2005, and the administration says it is promoting energy efficiency and supporting "an ambitious program" of carbon capture, utilization and storage for coal and natural gas power plants and for industrial facilities, according to the report.

The full report can be reviewed at:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/aota_energy_strategy_as_a_path_to_sustainable_economic_growth.pdf

 

SCIENCE COMMITTEE APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL "FIRST ACT" ALONG PARTY LINES

After a lengthy and somewhat contentious markup, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee approved the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act (H.R. 4186) by a vote of 20-16 on May 28th. As discussed in previous editions of Capitol Update, the bill reauthorizes and prioritizes federal investments at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by funding research and development (R&D) to address national needs. The bill also sets priorities to drive the nation's investments in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs.

The FIRST Act would require that the NSF publish a justification of each grant's scientific merits and relevance to the broad national interest in order to meet minimum standards of public accountability and transparency in its grant funding decisions. The FIRST Act does not change NSF's peer review process. Provisions of the FIRST Act also broadens the definition of STEM education to include computer science and supports student participation in nonprofit competitions, out-of-school activities and field experiences related to STEM.

After the vote, the Committee Republicans issued the following statement:
http://science.house.gov/press-release/committee-approves-first-act-prioritize-nsf-research-national-interest.

In response, the Committee's Democrats issued a press release which highlighted the difference in support between the COMPETES Act of 2010 and the FIRST Act. COMPETES was endorsed by four university associations; thirteen business associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers; 26 scientific and professional societies; 37 additional associations; 576 private companies; and, 96 major colleges and universities. As far as Committee Democrats know, the FIRST Act has received no endorsements for the bill as a whole. In fact, many organizations expressed concern about authorized funding levels in the FIRST Act being below levels previously approved by the House Appropriations Committee. Additionally, outside organizations had concerns about the prescriptive nature of the legislation as it relates to the NSF grant process. Many groups believe the new policies will not significantly increase accountability or transparency beyond the policies NSF has already enacted.

To read the Science Democrats' press release, go to:
http://democrats.science.house.gov/press-release/committee-democrats-oppose-first-act

Detailed information on the markup itself is available at:
http://science.house.gov/markup/full-committee-markup-s-1254-hr-4186

ASME had joined on several letters calling for increased funding for the agencies covered by the FIRST Act. Copies of the letters can be found: https://www.asme.org/about-asme/get-involved/advocacy-government-relations/policy-publications/position-statements.

 

ENERGY AND COMMERCE SUBCOMMITTEE REVIEWS BILL TO BOOST MANUFACTURING

The House Energy and Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee held a hearing to review the draft text of the Promoting New Manufacturing Act. This legislation is a component of the committee’s effort to build the “Architecture of Abundance,” by facilitating construction of new factories and other energy intensive projects.

In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted how America’s new abundance of natural gas supplies could help support a manufacturing renaissance and stressed the need to cut bureaucratic red tape in order to advance manufacturing projects. The bill works toward that goal by advancing timely issuance of air permits under the Clean Air Act’s preconstruction permitting program known as the New Source Review (NSR).

The Promoting New Manufacturing Act will improve the permitting process for new U.S. factories and expansions by:

  • Increasing transparency by requiring EPA to publish the total number of major NSR preconstruction permits issued annually, the percentage of permits issued within one year of submittal of a completed application, and the average length of the review process;
  • Requiring EPA to provide guidance coinciding with new standards affecting the permit process so businesses understand how to comply; and,
  • Directing EPA to provide an annual report to Congress highlighting the actions the agency is taking to expedite the permitting process.

Additional information on the legislation and the hearing, including prepared witness statements and an archived video of the hearing itself, may be viewed at: http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/promoting-new-manufacturing-act

For information about the Committee’s “Architecture of Abundance,” please visit: http://energycommerce.house.gov/icymi/opinion-rep-fred-upton-reuters-architecture-abundance-building-energy-infrastructure

 

NIST AWARDS 19 ADVANCED MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY PLANNING GRANTS

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently awarded 19 advanced manufacturing technology planning grants totaling $9 million to new or existing industry-driven consortia to develop technology roadmaps aimed at strengthening U.S. manufacturing and innovation performance across industries.

The grants, awarded to universities and other nonprofit organizations, are the first conferred by NIST's new Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) Program. They range from $378,900 to $540,000 for a period of up to two years.

The funded projects will identify and rank research and development goals, define workforce needs, and initiate other steps toward speeding technology development and transfer and improving manufacturing capabilities. Project collaborations span a wide variety of industries and technologies, from flexible-electronics manufacturing to biomanufacturing.

Technology roadmapping is a key component of all funded projects. Each consortium will engage manufacturers of all sizes, university researchers, trade associations and other stakeholders in an interactive process to identify and prioritize research projects that reduce shared barriers to the growth of advanced manufacturing in the United States. In conjunction with developing technology roadmaps, the projects will undertake related tasks such as defining challenges specific to building robust domestic supply chains and establishing skill-set requirements for an advanced manufacturing workforce.

Established in 2013, the AMTech program aims to catalyze partnerships between U.S. industry, academia, and government that will support efforts to meet the long-term research needs of U.S. industry. A specific objective is to enable new, or to strengthen existing, industry-led technology consortia for the purpose of identifying and prioritizing research projects that reduce barriers to the growth of advanced manufacturing.

To read summaries of the AMTech-funded projects and to see maps showing the locations of the projects' lead organizations and their funded partners, go to: www.nist.gov/amo/fundedawards.cfm

 

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING REPORT EXAMINES "STEM INTEGRATION IN K-12 EDUCATION"

K-12 STEM education has tended to focus on the individual subjects, most often science and mathematics. However, recent reform efforts, like the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), are stressing STEM connections - in the case of NGSS, between science and engineering.

“STEM Integration in K-12 Education” examines current efforts to connect the STEM disciplines in K-12 education. This report identifies and characterizes existing approaches to integrated STEM education, both in formal and after- and out-of-school settings. The report reviews the evidence for the impact of integrated approaches on various student outcomes, and it proposes a set of priority research questions to advance the understanding of integrated STEM education. “STEM Integration in K-12 Education” proposes a framework to provide a common perspective and vocabulary for researchers, practitioners, and others to identify, discuss, and investigate specific integrated STEM initiatives within the K-12 education system of the United States.

Finally, the report makes recommendations for designers of integrated STEM experiences, assessment developers, and researchers to design and document effective integrated STEM education.

To read the180-page publication on-line, visit: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=18612&page=1

 

NEW NSF DATA: FOREIGN GRADUATE ENROLLMENT IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING CONTINUES TO RISE

According to new data from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the number of citizens and permanent residents enrolled in science and engineering (S&E) graduate programs in the United States declined in 2012, while the number of foreign students studying on temporary visas increased.

The 1.7 percent drop in U.S. citizens and permanent residents was countered by a 4.3 percent increase in enrollment of foreign S&E graduate students on temporary visas. Overall growth of S&E graduate student enrollment stalled for the second year in a row in 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, after experiencing annual increases of 2 to 3 percent from 2005 to 2010. S&E graduate enrollment grew by less than 1 percent in 2011 and 2012.

These findings are from the fall 2012 Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering, cosponsored by the NSF and the National Institutes of Health. More information can be found at: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf14313/

 

NASA INVITES PUBLIC TO SELECT FAVORITE MOON IMAGE FOR LUNAR ORBITER ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will celebrate five years in orbit June 18. To celebrate the anniversary and LRO's many scientific contributions, NASA invites the public to select a favorite orbiter image of the moon for the cover a special image collection.

“The Moon as Art” collection gives the public the opportunity to see the moon as others have seen it for centuries – as an inspirational muse – but this time from the perspective of being in orbit with a series of 'eyes' that see in different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The public can vote on the final cover image from five possible candidates selected because of their beauty and/or scientific value by orbiter mission team members. The winning cover image will be announced June 18 with the release of the full “Moon as Art” collection of 24 images.

Voting will close June 6. The public can vote at http://lro.gsfc.nasa.gov/MoonArt

For more information on LRO, visit http://www.nasa.gov/lro

 

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 810
Washington, DC 20036
Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations

  • Melissa Carl covers public policy-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and diversity issues for ASME. She can be reached at carlm@asme.org
  • Paul Fakes covers public policy-related energy, standards and environmental issues for ASME. He can be reached at fakesp@asme.org
  • Roy Chrobocinski covers public policy-related research and development (R&D) and manufacturing issues for ASME. He can be reached at chrobocinski@asme.org