June 5, 2015
Capitol Update

In this issue:


FORMER ASME FEDERAL FELLOW MIKE MOLNAR RECEIVES ROY V. WRIGHT AWARD

Michael F. Molnar, PE, a former ASME Federal Government Fellow, was honored with the Roy V. Wright Award during the ASME Government Relations Dinner. Molnar, director of the interagency Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (AMNPO) at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, received the award after presenting the Roy V. Wright Lecture at the dinner, which was held in the Mansfield Room of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.

Molnar, who is also an ASME Fellow, is the founding director of the interagency AMNPO, which has a mission of fostering industry-led partnerships and implementing a “whole of government” approach to improve competitiveness and innovation within U.S. manufacturing. The interagency team is responsible for designing and establishing the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), the federal initiative to build a network of U.S. regional hubs to accelerate the development and implementation of innovative manufacturing technologies for creating new, globally competitive products.

During his lecture, Molnar, who served as a Federal Fellow with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 2003-2004, stressed the importance of the team approach in developing technology-related public policy. “The theme of my talk tonight is simple: ASME matters, manufacturing policy matters, and Federal Fellows matter,” he said. “They all matter to sound engineering public policy. Collaboration is not always easy, but it is highly effective in getting big things done. So too is engineering public policy and the reason why ASME Federal Fellows are so critically important. 

The Roy V. Wright Lecture and Award was established in 1949 to honor Wright, ASME’s 50th president, for his contributions to the United States and his community. The lecture and accompanying award also recognize the motivational power that his speeches and leadership provided to all engineers in encouraging them to become good citizens as well as accomplished professionals.

Information about the presentation of the award and Molnar’s remarks are available at: http://ppec.asme.org/home/former-asme-federal-fellow-mike-molnar-receives-roy-v-wright-award/

Information about the ASME Federal Government Fellowship Program is available at http://www.asmefederalfellows.org/index2.php and https://www.asme.org/about-asme/participate/advocacy-government-relations/federal-fellows-program 


HOUSE APPROVES FY16 COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE APPROPRIATIONS

The House cleared a $51.4 billion Commerce-Justice-Science fiscal 2016 spending bill Wednesday with Republicans saying it sets responsible spending priorities and Democrats arguing that it underfunds programs and carries troubling policy riders.

The measure provides funding for the Justice Department, Commerce Department the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and related agencies. It provides a 2.9 percent increase for NASA, a 1.0 percent reduction for NIST, and a 0.7 percent increase for NSF over current funding levels.

The House passed the fiscal 2016 spending bill (HR 2578) as amended on a 242-183 vote. Twelve Democrats voted for the measure while 10 Republicans voted against it. The bill received a veto threat from the Obama administration.

The Statement of Administration policy, which included the veto threat, cited funding for specific programs and, more broadly, the bill’s discretionary funding being capped at sequester level. Regarding R&D, the introduction states “The bill drastically underfunds critical investments in research and development that are key to advancing U.S. economic competitiveness and reducing taxpayer costs for securing essential weather satellite data and conducting an effective 2020 census.”  In addition: “It also cuts support for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program that will help end our reliance on Russia for transporting astronauts, critical space technology investments that will help pave the path to reaching Mars, and earth science research that is helping us understand how our climate is changing and how to respond to earthquakes, droughts, and severe weather events.”

The full Statement of Administration Policy can be reviewed by clicking here

The full legislation can be found at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/research-and-development/ under “Legislation”.


HOUSE PASSES SPACE ACT WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 2262, the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 or SPACE Act. Almost 50 Democrats joined Republicans to pass the bill with broad bipartisan support, 284-133.

The measure is intended to create more stable regulatory conditions and improve safety, which should help attract private investment. The SPACE Act hopes to secure American leadership in space and foster the development of advanced space technologies.

The bill is the product of over three years of work, numerous committee hearings, and input from industry, education groups, and grassroots citizen advocacy groups. The bill updates the Commercial Space Launch Act, which gives guidance to the growing commercial space industry. It received broad support from space community stakeholders.

Additional information on the bill can be found at: http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/SPACE_FAQ_0.pdf


EPA PROPOSES INCREASES IN RENEWABLE FUEL LEVELS

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and also proposed volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2017. The proposal would boost renewable fuel production and provide for growth over multiple years, supporting future expansion of the biofuels industry.

After extensive outreach and dialogue with the agricultural community, biofuel producers and the oil and gas industry, EPA is proposing to establish 2014 standards at levels that reflect the actual amount of domestic biofuel use in that year, and standards for 2015 and 2016 (and 2017 for biodiesel) that increase steadily over time.

The proposed volumes represent substantial growth over historic levels. For example: 

  • The proposed 2016 standard for cellulosic biofuel – those fuels with the lowest GHG emissions profile – is more than 170 million gallons higher than the actual 2014 volumes and six times higher than actual 2014 volumes. 
  •  The proposed 2016 standard for total renewable fuel is nearly 1.5 billion gallons more, or about nine percent higher, than the actual 2014 volumes. 
  • The proposed 2016 standard for advanced biofuel is more than 700 million gallons (27) percent higher than the actual 2014 volumes. 
  • Biodiesel standards grow steadily over the next several years, increasing every year to reach 1.9 billion gallons by 2017, 17 percent higher than the actual 2014 volumes.

EPA will hold a public hearing on this proposal on June 25, 2015, in Kansas City, Kansas. The period for public input and comment will be open until July 27th. EPA will finalize the volume standards in this rule by November 30th. 

For more information on the announcement, go to http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy/ and look under “Regulations and Announcements”.


GOVERNORS URGE CONGRESS TO ACT QUICKLY TO EXTEND THE RENEWABLE ENERGY PRODUCTION AND INVESTMENT TAX CREDITS

The chairman and vice chairman of the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition sent a letter to House and Senate leadership today urging Congress to approve a multi-year extension of the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) as soon as possible. The most recently passed extension expired last year.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad told Congressional leaders that the recent Wind Vision report emphasized the importance of near-term policy support to prevent an industry slow down and the loss of manufacturing to foreign markets. Without policy support, wind deployment is projected to be minimal and the domestic wind manufacturing sector would struggle.

In part, the letter reads as follows:

“Our assessment of the Department of Energy’s recently-released Wind Vision report is that the domestic wind manufacturing industry is likely to stagnate over the next decade without the PTC. We anticipate that wind energy will be truly competitive with traditional energy sources soon given innovation in the industry. . . We believe it is important to recognize all the public policy benefits of wind energy, including a diversified energy portfolio, public health benefits, domestically-sourced energy, and others. We are also concerned that thousands of manufacturing jobs could be lost without stable federal policy.”

The entire letter may be read at: http://www.governorswindenergycoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/GWC-PTC-ITC-Letter-5-26-15.pdf


SENATORS PROPOSE LIFTING U.S. OIL EXPORT BAN

Legislation to lift the decades-old ban on exporting domestic crude oil was introduced this week by a group of thirteen Senators. The legislation is being led by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp was the lone Democrat to join Murkowski in co-sponsoring the bill, but noted that a number of her Senate colleagues were coming to understand the complexity of the market for refined petroleum products.

The “Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015” (S. 1312) would allow domestic crude oil or condensate to be exported without a Federal license to any country not subject to U.S. trade sanctions. The bill also proposes a number of reforms to federal energy data collection and collaboration initiatives, and requires regular reporting to Congress on the effectiveness of the new data collection and collaboration practices.

The full text of S. 1312 may be reviewed at http://www.congress.gov and search by bill number.


TWENTY-SIX ORGANIZATIONS APPLY FOR 2015 BALDRIGE AWARD

Recognizing that performance excellence and innovation are the key ingredients in a recipe for success, 26 top-level organizations are vying to be honored as the "top chefs" in the nation by applying for the 2015 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. This year's applicants include two small businesses, four educational organizations, 16 health care organizations and four nonprofits.

This year's group of applicants shows that the Baldrige leadership and performance management framework continues to have strong support across different sectors, especially in health care. There has been a double-digit number of applicants in the health care category and at least one health care Baldrige Award winner annually since 2002. Additionally, this marks the 16th consecutive year with at least two or more applicants in both healthcare and education—a streak that started with the introduction of the two categories in 1999.

Working in teams over the summer, members of the volunteer board of Baldrige examiners will evaluate applicant organizations against the seven categories of the 2015-2016 Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results. Examiners provide each applicant with 500 to 1,000 hours of review and a detailed report on the organization's strengths and opportunities for improvement.

In late August, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP)'s Judges Panel will determine which organizations will receive site visits by examiner teams to verify information in the application and clarify questions that come up during the review. From those site-visited organizations, the 2015 Baldrige Award recipients will be selected in November 2015.

BPEP is managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in cooperation with the private sector. The program raises awareness about the importance of performance excellence in driving the U.S. and global economy; provides organizational assessment tools and criteria; develops and educates leaders in all types of organizations about the practices of national role models and recognizes them with the Baldrige Award in six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, health care, education and nonprofit.

For more information on the Baldrige Program, go to: http://www.nist.gov/baldrige

 

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.

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