March 25, 2015 Capitol Update

In this issue:



President Obama recently announced nearly $500 million in public-private investment that aims to strengthen American manufacturing by investing in cutting-edge technologies through a new, textiles-focused manufacturing institute competition led by the Department of Defense, and by sharpening the capabilities of small manufacturers through Manufacturing Extension Partnership competitions in twelve states.

To invest nearly $500 million to strengthen U.S. advanced manufacturing:

  • The Department of Defense is launching a competition for leading manufacturers, universities, and non-profits to form a new manufacturing hub focused on revolutionary fibers and textiles technologies. The $75 million federal investment will be matched by more than $75 million of private sector resources.
  • The first institute awarded is in Youngstown, Ohio. Only in its third year, it is already drawing investment to Ohio—including a $32 million job-creating investment in the region from GE—and advancing research that will help accelerate the speed of 3-D printing in metals by a factor of ten.

For the latest on the new institute competition, please visit at

The White House, as detailed in a new report, is also launching a Supply Chain Innovation Initiative focused on building public-private partnerships to strengthen the small U.S. manufacturers that anchor the nation’s supply chains. To find the new White House and Department of Commerce report on strengthening small manufacturers, visit: and look under “Issue Reports”.

Across the country, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a state-federal network of 60 centers and 1,200 manufacturing experts, helps small manufacturers improve their production processes, upgrade their technological capabilities, and bring new products to market.
This most recent MEP competition will award nearly $32 million annually for five years across twelve states – an expected total of $158 million matched at least dollar-for-dollar by $158 million or more of non-federal funding – to strengthen and reinvest in this nationwide network of manufacturing expertise.

For more on the competition, applicants should visit the NIST MEP competition website at:  A public webinar for applications will be conducted on Monday, March 30th, 2015 at 2:00 pm EST.



On March 23, the White House hosted its 5th annual science fair, welcoming over 100 students from across the country to showcase their inventions, robots, and discoveries. These students were winners from a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) competitions, including DiscoverE’s Future City competition. This year’s White House science fair had a “specific focus on girls and women who are excelling in STEM and inspiring the next generation with their work.”

When President Obama was speaking to the exhibitors at the White House science fair, he said, “But it’s not enough for our country just to be proud of you. We’ve also got to support you.  We’ve got to make sure that young people like you are going to keep on having what you need to discover and experiment and to innovate.” Then the President proceeded to make the following three announcements:

  • “Four years ago, I set a national goal to provide 98 percent of Americans with high-speed wireless Internet so that any young scientist or entrepreneur could access the world’s information.  Today, I can announce that we have achieved that goal, and we did it ahead of schedule.”
  • “To make sure that we keep expanding broadband across the country, I’m creating a new team called the Broadband Opportunity Council, made up of leaders across government, who will work with business and communities to invest in next-generation Internet nationwide. “
  • “Five years ago, we launched a campaign called “Educate to Innovate,” to help more of our students explore science, technology, engineering and math.  Today, I’m pleased to announce $240 million in new contributions from businesses, from schools, from foundations across the country to help kids learn in these STEM fields.”

For more information about the White House Science Fair, including additional details about the exhibitors or aforementioned announcements, please visit:



On March 23, ASME co-sponsored a briefing on Capitol Hill entitled, “Policy Perspectives: ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) and the Future STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Workforce.” The briefing was held in conjunction with the House STEM Education Caucus, and also sponsored by the American Chemical Society, the National Council on Teachers of Mathematics, the National Science Teachers Association, the STEM Education Coalition, and Teach for America.

Panelists included Diane Briars, the President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; James Brown, the Executive Director of the STEM Education Coalition, and Christine Scullion, the Director of Human Resources Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.

Briars spoke about the interconnectedness of STEM, and the need for science (and by extension engineering concepts) to be included in the federal accountability system. While science is tested, it does not count for accountability, and therefore, the curricular time for science since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act has been reduced. She did acknowledge the current accountability system is flawed, and cautioned over-testing of students.

Brown then spoke about the need to educate a 21st century workforce in the U.S., and the associated need for a higher federal priority placed on STEM since that is where many of the future jobs lie. Finally, Scullion reminded the audience that not all STEM jobs require college degrees, and there are many high wage jobs in manufacturing for post-secondary graduates. Therefore, high school graduates should be prepared to enter the STEM workforce as well as colleges and universities.

For more information about the STEM Education Caucus, please visit:



Following a public input and review process that included more than 1.5 million comments and submissions, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell this week released final standards related to hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands. The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) standards are aimed at improving safety and helping to protect groundwater by updating requirements for well-bore integrity, wastewater disposal and public disclosure of chemicals. Other reforms will include measures to target where oil and gas leasing occurs and protect environmentally sensitive lands.
The new rules will apply to the more than 100,000 oil and gas wells on federally managed lands. Of wells currently being drilled on these lands, over 90 percent use hydraulic fracturing.
“Current federal well-drilling regulations are more than 30 years old and they simply have not kept pace with the technical complexities of today’s hydraulic fracturing operations,” Secretary Jewell said in announcing the new rules. “This updated and strengthened rule provides a framework of safeguards and disclosure protocols that will allow for the continued responsible development of our federal oil and gas resources. As we continue to offer millions of acres of public lands for conventional and renewable energy production, it is absolutely critical the public have confidence that transparent and effective safety and environmental protections are in place.”
Key components of the rule, which will take effect in 90 days include:

  • Provisions for ensuring the protection of groundwater supplies by requiring a validation of well integrity and strong cement barriers between the wellbore and water zones through which the wellbore passes;
  • Increased transparency by requiring companies to publicly disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing to the Bureau of Land Management through the website FracFocus, within 30 days of completing fracturing operations;
  • Higher standards for interim storage of recovered waste fluids from hydraulic fracturing to mitigate risks to air, water and wildlife;
  • Measures to lower the risk of cross-well contamination with chemicals and fluids used in the fracturing operation, by requiring companies to submit more detailed information on the geology, depth, and location of preexisting wells to afford the BLM an opportunity to better evaluate and manage unique site characteristics.

The full text of the final rule is available at: under Regulations and Announcements.



The House of Representatives passed two bills aimed at reforming practices under the umbrella of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) Reform Act (H.R. 1029), introduced by Science, Space, and Technology Committee Vice-Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), passed by a vote of 236-181. The bill would amend the public participation practices required for EPA’s SAB. The SAB was created in 1978 to provide independent expert advice to the EPA and Congress on scientific and technical information that may be used to justify federal regulations. The bill would reform the appointment practices for individuals on the SAB.

The House also passed the Secret Science Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 1030), introduced by Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), to require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to base its regulations on “the best available science that is publicly available.” The bill would limit the types of data EPA could use in regulatory findings, excluding some scientifically-important data that is sometimes not made broadly available in order to protect the privacy of test subjects or Confidential Business Information.

The White House has issued a veto threat for both bills, citing problems in each bill that would impose “arbitrary, unnecessary, and expensive requirements on EPA that would impede the agency’s ability to use scientific data and scientific professionals to protect public health and the environment.” The White House has also expressed concern that both bills would limit scientific input into EPA’s regulatory process, impose new regulatory costs, and increase uncertainty for businesses and States regulatory agencies.

Companion legislation of both bills has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and await further consideration.



The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released the Federal Laboratory Technology Transfer, Fiscal Year 2012, Summary Report to the President and Congress. The report provides government-wide results of federal technology transfer activities in 2012. It includes both quantitative (e.g., number of licenses, earned royalty income, etc.) and qualitative (e.g., anecdotal evidence of downstream outcomes and benefits) measures of effectiveness, organized by agency and summarized at the national level.

According to the report, federal laboratories reported more than 8,812 research agreements and 21,677 other collaborative research and development-related relationships in FY 2012. There were 5,149 new invention disclosures, 2,346 patent applications filed, 1,808 patents issued, and more than $166.8 million in income generated from 5,451 active income bearing licenses.

Examples of federal technologies that were developed and successfully transferred in FY 2012 include:

  • A platinum-chromium alloy for improved coronary stents developed by scientists at the National Energy Technology Laboratory, which is part of the Department of Energy’s national laboratory system;
  • High-performance instruments for the detection of infectious bacteria developed by scientists at the Food and Drug Administration, the National Center for Toxicological Research, and the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research;
  • A post-event gamma radiation sensor network, Radiological Emergency Management System, designed by scientists at the Department of Homeland Security for response and recovery after release of radiation in an urban area; and,
  • Nanoparticle-based methods for remediating and destroying organic and inorganic environmental contaminants in the subsurface and in water, developed by scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Risk Management Research Laboratory and VeruTEK Technologies.

“Technology transfer” is a legal mechanism by which results of federally funded research are transferred to the private sector where they may be further developed into consumer products and services. Technology transfer statutes also allow the use of federal laboratory facilities by academic and industry researchers and enable the establishment of research partnerships between federal laboratories and nonfederal institutions and businesses.

To read the report, visit and look under “Issue Reports”.


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.

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