June 23, 2014
Capitol Update

In this issue:

 

ASME CONVENES CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING ON ADVANCED MANUFACTURING

ASME partnered with the National Science Foundation and DISCOVER Magazine to convene a briefing for Congress to highlight “Customization in Internet-Enabled Manufacturing”. The purpose of the briefing was to provide information to Congressional staff on the advances in manufacturing technology, especially as it deals with the “maker movement” and significant advances in 3D printing.

The speakers detailed how the ability of manufacturing to be “made to order” is vital to the future of U.S. manufacturing. Manufacturing production has grown at its fastest pace in more than a decade, creating more economic value per dollar spent than any other sector. Adding to this surge is customization, the ability to quickly and efficiently make what you want, when you want it.

Dr. Steven Schmid, a professor from the University of Notre Dame and former ASME Foundation Swanson Fellow, opened the briefing by discussing the significant advances in manufacturing technology. He also showed how the United States is being out invested by countries around the world when it comes to manufacturing research. If the United States is to remain an economic leader with future industries, there is a great need for the U.S. to invest in the manufacturing sector now to ensure industry has the latest and greatest technology moving forward.

Dr. Neil Gershenfeld, a professor at MIT, talked about how large-scale customization is now possible due to a combination of Internet-based business platforms and technological advances in manufacturing. From 3-D printing to cyber-physical manufacturing systems, today’s and tomorrow’s engineering research holds promise to improve productivity in both production and the supply chain, benefiting suppliers and customers along the way.

This briefing was held a day before the White House held the first ever Maker Faire, a day to celebrate Makers, innovators, and entrepreneurs of all ages who are using cutting-edge tools like 3D printers and easy-to-use design software to bring their ideas to life.

At the White House Maker Faire, it was announced that NASA would be partnering with the ASME Foundation on the "Future Engineers" printing challenges for the first 3D printer aboard the International Space Station. Middle and high school students will design items for 3D printing on ISS, and the winning student will watch from NASA’s Payload Operations Center with the mission control team as the item is printed in space.  NASA and the ASME Foundation will also promote these projects and others in Maker Community Challenge Showcases, in which student participants would have the opportunity to have their 3D designs printed at local Maker community locations and student participants would showcase their 3D designs in on online open hardware design repository.

For more information about the Maker Faire, including the Future Engineers competition, please visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/06/18/president-obama-white-house-maker-faire-today-s-diy-tomorrow-s-made-america

The Future Engineers web site is now live at http://www.futureengineers.org

Additional information about the ASME briefing, including video of the event, will be available at a later date.

 

CURRENT AND FORMER EPA OFFICIALS TESTIFY BEFORE HOUSE AND SENATE SUBCOMMITTEES ON PROPOSED CARBON RULES

The House Energy and Power Subcommittee received testimony from EPA’s Janet McCabe, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. House Republicans, led by subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), repeatedly criticized the EPA’s proposed rule, and questioned the agency’s legal authority to regulate carbon emissions. Already, at least one company, Murray Energy Corp., has requested that the U.S. Court of Appeals prevent EPA’s promulgation of new carbon rules. In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA was required by the Clean Air Act to regulate any air pollutant found to pose a threat to human health and welfare.

To view an archived web cast of the House’s hearing, as well as to read the prepared statements of each of the witnesses, visit:
http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/epa%E2%80%99s-proposed-carbon-dioxide-regulations-power-plants

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPA) Committee’s Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety also held a hearing on “Climate Change: The Need to Act Now.” The witnesses included four former Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who were appointed by Republican Presidents: the Honorable William Ruckelshaus served as the first EPA Administrator under President Richard Nixon and then again under President Ronald Reagan; the Honorable Lee Thomas also served under President Reagan; the Honorable William Reilly served under President George H. W. Bush, and the Honorable Christine Todd Whitman served under President George W. Bush.

The four former EPA Administrators testified about the need to control carbon pollution, so the nation can avoid the most calamitous impacts of climate change -- such as rising sea levels, dangerous heat waves, and economic disruption.

The Honorable Bill Ruckelshaus summed up the consensus of the former EPA Administrators saying, “Several months ago, after talking with one another, the four former EPA administrators sitting in front of you found we were convinced by the overwhelming verdict of scientists that the earth was warming and that we humans were the only controllable contributor to this phenomenon. Given those facts, we all signed an op ed piece that recommended that America get serious about reducing our contribution to changing the world’s climate rather than simply sitting back and accepting the avoidable consequences.”

“We believe there is legitimate scientific debate over the pace and effects of climate change but no legitimate debate over the fact of the earth’s warming or over man’s contribution. The models of the world’s leading scientists predict rising seas, drought, floods, wildfires, and more severe and frequent storms. We are seeing impacts already.

“This is an extremely complex problem whose solutions are not straightforward. We believe this is no excuse for complacency or not stepping up to our responsibility.”

To view an archived web cast of the Senate’s hearing, as well as to read the prepared statements of each of the witnesses, visit: http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=a26b916b-b182-45cb-f502-930b93f8a24b

Also on June 18th, EPW Republican members sent a letter to Chair Boxer requesting a hearing on EPA's proposed power plant rule specifically requesting that members of the Obama Administration be invited to provide testimony. That letter may be read at http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Files.View&FileStore_id=4e537476-c24b-4ce8-9115-6968ad371711XXXX

In a related development, on June 18, the EPA proposed emission guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to address greenhouse gas emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units. Specifically, the EPA proposed state-specific rate-based goals for carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector, as well as guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to achieve the state-specific goals. Power plants account for nearly 40 percent of all carbon pollution released into the air. Unlike other pollutants, currently there are no limits on the amount of carbon pollution that can be released into the air from power plants.

Public comments on the proposal will be accepted until October 16, 2014. For instructions on how to comment, and for detailed information on the proposal, visit: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/06/18/2014-13726/carbon-pollution-emission-guidelines-for-existing-stationary-sources-electric-utility-generating

 

SENATE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE APPROVES FY15 FUNDING FOR DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY PROGRAMS

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development approved fiscal year (FY) 2015 funding legislation that totals $34.2 billion in discretionary budget authority, an increase of $148 million above the fiscal year 2014 level and an increase of $525 million above the President's request level.

The bill recommends $28.372 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop new energy technologies, conduct fundamental scientific research, modernize the nation's nuclear arsenal, secure dangerous nuclear and radiological materials around the world, and clean up the country's Cold War environmental legacy. This amount is $1.091 billion above the FY 2014 level and $64 million below the President's budget request. Of this amount, $11.891 billion is for the National Nuclear Security Administration, a $684 million above the fiscal year 2014 level.

Highlights of the bill include the following:

  • Scientific Discovery: The bill recommends $5.086 billion, which is $20 million above the fiscal year 2014 level, for the Office of Science.
  • Applied Energy Research and Development: The bill recommends $3.917 billion for applied energy programs. This funding supports research, development, demonstration and deployment of an extensive range of clean energy technologies, including for nuclear, fossil and renewable energy applications. This amount includes $280 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to develop next-generation, innovative energy technologies.
  • Next-Generation Computing: The bill recommends $151 million, including $91 million in the Office of Science and $60 million in the National Nuclear Security Administration, for the Exascale Computing Initiative.
  • Cybersecurity: The bill recommends $304 million, which is $25 million above the FY 2014 level, for cybersecurity activities.
  • Nonproliferation: The bill recommends $1.978 billion, which is $24 million above the FY 2014 level and $423 million above the budget request, for nonproliferation activities that reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism.
  • Nuclear Weapons: The bill recommends $8.315 billion, which is $534 million above the FY 2014 level and the same as the budget request, for nuclear weapons activities.
  • Naval Reactors: The bill recommends $1.208 billion, which is $113 million above the FY 2014 level, for naval reactors.
  • Environmental Cleanup: The bill recommends a total of $5.942 billion, which is $111 million above the FY 2014 level and $320 million above the budget request, for environmental cleanup activities of across the DOE complex.

The measure was to have been considered by the full Senate Appropriations Committee on June 19th; however, that markup session was delayed and, as of press time, had not been rescheduled.

To read the complete press release, go to:
http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/fy15-energy-water-subcommittee-markup-bill-summary

In a related development, on June 18, the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2015 Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill on a bipartisan voice vote. The legislation provides annual funding for national defense nuclear weapons activities, the Army Corps of Engineers, and various programs under the Department of Energy (DOE).

To read the bill report, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hrpt-113-hr-fy2015-energywater.pdf

 

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY RELEASES WATER-ENERGY NEXUS REPORT

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a new report that frames an integrated challenge and opportunity space around the water-energy nexus for DOE and its partners, and lays the foundation for future efforts. “The Water-Energy Nexus: Challenge and Opportunities” lays out an array of technical and operational challenges across the water-energy nexus at local, regional, and national scales. The report notes that water scarcity, variability, and uncertainty are becoming more prominent, potentially leading to vulnerabilities of the U.S. energy system.

Present day water and energy systems are tightly intertwined. Water is used in all phases of energy production and electricity generation. Energy is required to extract, convey, and deliver water of appropriate quality for diverse human uses.

The report identifies six strategic pillars that will serve as the foundation for coordinating R&D:

  • Optimize the freshwater efficiency of energy production, electricity generation, and end use systems;
  • Optimize the energy efficiency of water management, treatment, distribution, and end use systems;
  • Enhance the reliability and resilience of energy and water systems;
  • Increase safe and productive use of nontraditional water sources;
  • Promote responsible energy operations with respect to water quality, ecosystem, and seismic impacts; and,
  • Exploit productive synergies among water and energy systems.

To pursue next steps, DOE will work with partners, including other federal agencies, state and local governments, foreign governments, private industry, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and citizens. This integration and collaboration will enable more effective research, development, and deployment of key technologies; harmonization of policies where warranted; shared robust datasets; informed decision-making; and public dialogue.

The full report is available on Energy.gov at: http://energy.gov/downloads/water-energy-nexus-challenges-and-opportunities, and an infographic on the water-energy nexus is available at:
http://energy.gov/articles/ensuring-resiliency-our-future-water-and-energy-systems

 

THIRD MEETING OF THE U.S.-JAPAN BILATERAL COMMISSION ON CIVIL NUCLEAR COOPERATION

The third meeting of the U.S.-Japan Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation was held on June 12, 2014 in Tokyo, with Japan's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Shinsuke Sugiyama and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman leading the discussions as Co-Chairs. The delegations included participants representing a wide range of governmental agencies.

Established at the U.S.-Japan summit held in Washington, D.C. in April 2012, the Bilateral Commission serves as a standing senior-level forum to foster a comprehensive strategic dialogue and joint activities related to the safe and secure use of civil nuclear energy and the response to the accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station (NPS).

During the third meeting of the BLC on June 12, 2014, each of the five Working Groups reported on the status of its activities, and agreed to specific activities to perform before the next BLC meeting. Summarized briefly:

  • The United States and Japan reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the nuclear security posture of both countries and to reduce the threat that terrorists could acquire nuclear material;
  • Both countries discussed ongoing joint projects in the areas of advanced reactor, light-water reactor, and fuel cycle and waste management R&D;
  • The United States and Japan reviewed the results of technical discussions on the current status of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, reviews regarding conformity with new regulatory requirements, emergency preparedness and response, approaches to PRA, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's and the Japan Nuclear Regulatory Authority's approaches to aircraft impact assessments, and the U.S. experience with the International Atomic Energy Agency's International Physical Protection Advisory Service missions;
  • Regarding civil nuclear liability, the United States and Japan reaffirmed their support to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC); and,
  • On decommissioning and environmental management, the United States and Japan reiterated their commitment to cooperation on cleanup efforts at Fukushima Dai-chi. The Decommissioning and Environmental Management Working Group participants reported on the results from their two meetings in January and April 2014.

A more detailed fact sheet may be viewed at
http://energy.gov/articles/factsheet-third-meeting-us-japan-bilateral-commission-civil-nuclear-cooperation

 

INTERIOR SECRETARY ANNOUNCES FIRST STEP TO DEVELOP OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS LEASING PROGRAM FOR 2017-2022

Earlier this month, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Acting Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Walter Cruickshank announced the first step to develop the next schedule of potential offshore oil and gas lease sales. The June 13th publication in the Federal Register of a Request for Information (RFI) and Comments on the Preparation of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program (RFI) is the initial step in the multi-year planning process and does not identify any specific course of action.

The OCS Lands Act requires the Secretary of the Interior, through BOEM, to prepare and maintain a schedule of proposed oil and gas lease sales in federal waters, indicating the size, timing and location of auctions that would best meet national energy needs for the five-year period following its approval. In developing the Five Year Program, the Secretary is required to achieve an appropriate balance among the potential for environmental impacts, for discovery of oil and gas, and for adverse effects on the coastal zone.

The current Five Year Program for 2012–2017, which expires in August 2017, schedules 15 potential lease sales in six planning areas with the greatest resource potential, including more than 75 percent of the estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore waters. BOEM has held five sales thus far, including annual auctions in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico and a single sale in the portion of the Eastern Gulf not subject to the Congressional moratorium.

These five auctions offered more than 60 million offshore acres and leased 4.3 million of those, generating more than $2.3 billion in high bids. The sixth lease sale in August 2014 will offer 21 million OCS acres in the Western Gulf of Mexico. Off Alaska, the current Five Year Program includes one potential sale each for the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea and Cook Inlet planning areas.

Under the recently published RFI, BOEM will accept comments until July 30, 2014 in either of the following ways:

Additional information on the process of developing the next Five-Year Program as well as on the current Five Year Program can be found at http://www.boem.gov/Five-Year-Program/

 

GEORGIA POWER NUCLEAR PLANT CONSTRUCTION BACK ON TRACK

Southern Company's Georgia Power is soon expected to release a progress report on construction of the first nuclear power plant in 30 years. The company is required to file roughly bi-annual construction updates with the Georgia Public Service Commission. Company officials recently noted that work on the $14 billion project is more than fifty percent complete, and that the new units are expected to begin producing power later this decade. In February, the U.S. Department of Energy finalized $6.5 billion in loan guarantees to support the project.

The entire Vogtle project has been delayed by almost 2 years, initially facing reactor design and other regulatory delays, followed by major construction delays. Georgia Power officials say they expect to finish construction on Unit 3 by the middle of 2017; Unit 4 is expected to follow suit later that year.

The Vogtle project continues to face scrutiny from a number of angles. Environmental and consumer advocate groups are following the project closely, and continue to complain about the high cost, significant delays, and concern about nuclear safety issues. On the other hand, the U.S. EPA's continued expansion of greenhouse gas emissions makes nuclear power an attractive emission-free alternative for groups concerned with the effects of climate change.

Georgia Power's most recent construction update is available at:
http://www.georgiapower.com/docs/about-energy/9th-10th-VCM-Report.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 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