June 30, 2017
Capitol Update

In this issue:


HOUSE APPROPRIATORS RELEASE FY 2018 ENERGY AND WATER BILL, PROPOSE CUTS

The House Appropriations Committee has released its FY 2018 Energy and Water appropriations bill. The bill includes spending for the Department of Energy (DOE) and Army Corps of Engineers, and funding for safeguarding the nation’s nuclear weapons, energy research and development (R&D), and a range of infrastructure projects.

The bill totals $37.56 billion, which is $209 million below the FY 2017 enacted level but $3.65 billion above President Trump’s proposed budget request. The Energy and Water Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) said, “It strikes a responsible balance between the modernization and safety of our nuclear weapons, advancing our national infrastructure, and strategic investments in basic science and energy R&D.”

In the area of energy programs, funding within DOE is $9.6 billion – a decrease of $1.7 billion below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $2.3 billion above the President's request. Early-stage R&D funding for the applied energy programs is a priority and targeted funding is meant to encourage U.S. economic competitiveness and advance the nation’s goal of an “all-of-the-above” solution to reach energy independence.

Despite previously strong support, the bill proposes eliminating the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget request called for the elimination of ARPA-E as a way to move DOE away from commercializing technology in favor of funding basic scientific and engineering research. ARPA-E funds high-potential energy projects that are still too experimental for private investment. The research program has received key endorsements from the National Academy of Sciences and a number of House and Senate Republican leaders.

R&D funds to advance coal, natural gas, oil, and other fossil energy technologies is provided at $635 million – a decrease of $33 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $355 million above the budget request. In addition, to promote innovation and growth in nuclear energy, research, development, and demonstration activities are funded at $969 million – $48 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $266 million above the request.

Renewable energy programs were cut by $986 million compared to fiscal year 2017 and increased by $468 million compared to the President’s budget request.

To review the full bill, please visit:
https://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-115hr-sc-ap-fy2018-energywater-energyandwater.pdf


CONGRESS AND ENERGY STAKEHOLDERS PUSH BACK ON TRUMP’S PROPOSED CUTS TO ENERGY BUDGET FOR FY 2018

In a letter to energy appropriators in Congress, the U.S. renewable energy industry groups (American Council on Renewable Energy, American Wind Energy Association, Geothermal Energy Association, Solar Energy Industries Associations, and the National Hydropower Association) spoke out against the proposed cuts to the Department of Energy (DOE)’s budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 by the Trump Administration (the House bill mentioned in the previous article had not been released at the time the letter was sent).

With proposed cuts of more than $1.7 billion from programs supporting energy innovation and deployment, a 66 percent decrease from current annualized funding levels, the signers of the letter said that they believe that such cuts would “seriously jeopardize America’s leadership in cutting-edge research on clean energy technologies and harm our country’s overall competitiveness.”

Last week, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry also heard bipartisan criticism for proposing energy research cuts during an Energy-Water subcommittee hearing. The lead Republican Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and the lead Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) of the subcommittee told the Secretary that appropriators will ignore the more than $3 billion in proposed research and development (R&D) cuts in the proposed DOE budget of $28 billion in funding for Fiscal year 2018, where a 70 percent reduction would hit the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and a 17 percent cut to the Office of Science. During the hearing, Senators expressed concern that this type of cut would put the United States out of clean energy development. Secretary Perry told the appropriators he would work with Congress on how to address some of the R&D concerns.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and other national labs, and the Advanced Research Programs Agency –Energy (ARPA-E) have been instrumental in the R&D of electric power innovations by increasing clean energy output, improving reliability, reducing deployment barriers, and costs. There have been technological breakthroughs to improve productivity and reduce the costs of wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal systems, biofuels, electric vehicles and energy storage systems.

The letter reiterates that the administration’s proposed budget for FY 2018 for DOE would seriously jeopardize important research by national laboratories, cutting over $2 billion (58%) from current spending levels and thereby slowing the R&D technologies that enable greater energy production at lower costs, and would jeopardize the United States’ dominant technological position in electric power and renewable energy research and development.

Read the letter here: http://info.aee.net/hubfs/AEE_ACORE_AWEA_SEIA_Transmittal_Letter_final.pdf?t=1494937099180


ONGOING REGULATORY REFORM EFFORTS FOCUS ON ENERGY

Regulatory reform continues to be the focus of the Trump Administration with a proposal for new reforms at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) taking shape this week. The agency hopes to tweak Clean Air Act rules and revise coal ash disposal guidelines, as well as change the EPA rulemaking process itself.

Last month, a memorandum for regulatory reform officers and regulatory policy officers at executive departments and agencies was issued to provide guidance for Section 2 of Executive Order 13783, Titled “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.”

Under Section 2, the head of each Executive Department and Agency is to review that agency’s existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources. A final report is required by July 26, 2017, and will include specific recommendations that could alleviate or eliminate aspects of agency actions that burden domestic energy production.

Another Executive Order on Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the “Waters of the United States” Rule instructs the EPA Administrator to review the final rule entitled "Clean Water Rule: Definition of 'Waters of the United States,” and publish for notice and comment a proposed rule rescinding or revising the rule, as appropriate and consistent with law.

For more information, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule


THE PRESIDENT’S TRADE POLICY AGENDA AND FISCAL YEAR 2018 BUDGET

The United States Trade Representative Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer testified before the Senate Finance Committee in late June and stated that trade is a "top priority" and that the President wants him to negotiate trade deals that put American workers, farmers and ranchers, families, and businesses first, and to utilize a vigorous trade enforcement agenda.

USTR has notified Congress of the Administration’s intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a principal priority of the President, and intends to press trading allies on a bilateral basis to open markets for American exports.

The President has requested $57,600,000 in funding for USTR in FY 2018, a roughly 6 percent increase over the FY 2016 level to enhance its mission through the implementation of the Interagency Center on Trade Implementation, Monitoring, and Enforcement, and would allow the hiring of eight additional staff. Staff and travel costs make up most of USTR's budget.

To view the hearing and read Ambassador Lighthizer’s testimony, please visit:

https://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/the-presidents-trade-policy-agenda-and-fiscal-year-2018-budget


2017 GLOBAL INFORMATION SECURITY WORKFORCE STUDY

The Global Information Security Workforce Study (GISWS) is conducted every two years by the Center for Cyber Safety and Education (Center) and the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc. (ISC), an international nonprofit membership association.

The online survey gauged the opinions of 19,641 information security professionals from 170 countries regarding trends and issues about their profession, to obtain feedback regarding certification, training and educational requirements, and to understanding potential gaps in organizational security. It was meant to produce statistically significant findings.

The Center’s results are available for an organization to plan, assess and implement workforce policies. It is considered one of the largest studies on the information security workforce. The following findings were released:

  • Mandatory requirements help to secure an organization’s environment;
  • It takes up to a week to recover from a targeted cyberattack;
  • Hiring and retaining qualified information security professionals is a top factor to securing an entity’s infrastructure;
  • Over the next 12 months, overall security spending will increase, especially for security tools and information security personnel with an expectation of such personnel to increase by 64% within 1 year within an organization;
  • Government offers greater diversity opportunity that encourages hiring from underrepresented groups; and
  • Security needs to be on the to-do list of non-technical staff too so they are aware of security issues.

 

The report is now available at: https://iamcybersafe.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/N-America-GISWS-REPORT.pdf

There are also results from a U. S. Government Security Workforce study available here:
https://iamcybersafe.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/2017-US-Govt-GISWS-Report.pdf


NATURAL GAS HAS DISPLACED COAL IN THE NORTHEAST’S GENERATION MIX OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS

According to the Energy Information Administration, the fuel mix for electricity generation in the Northeast has shifted dramatically over the past 10 years from coal to natural gas. In the Northeast, natural gas has nearly doubled total generation to 41 percent in 2016, up from 23 percent in 2006. Coal-fired generation fell from 31 percent to 11 percent over that same period.

At the same time, nuclear-powered generation as a share of total generation remained at 34 percent and non-hydro renewables remain relatively small.

Factors such as increased access to low-cost natural gas from the Marcellus Shale and other regional shale plays and environmental policies at the federal and regional level, i.e. production tax credits, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and renewable portfolio standards, have contributed to the decline in coal generation.

For more information, go to: https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=31172

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

*Emerging biotech with potential to improve US health care on display at 2017 International BIO Convention
http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/emerging-biotech-with-potential-to-improve-us-health-care-on-display-at-2017-international-bio-convention/
*EERE Success Story—Concentrating Solar Power Transforms Food Processing
http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/eere-success-story-concentrating-solar-power-transforms-food-processing-with-solar-s/
*Judge: Dakota Access Pipeline Needs Further Environmental Review
http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/judge-dakota-access-pipeline-needs-further-environmental-review/
*Can Robots Learn Social Etiquette? The Defense Department Thinks So
http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/can-robots-learn-social-etiquette-the-defense-department-thinks-so/

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