May 15, 2015
Capitol Update

In this issue:

 

JOIN ASME GOVERNMENT RELATIONS FOR A MAY 20TH WEBINAR ON THE "FISCAL YEAR 2016 FEDERAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT BUDGET"

ASME Members are invited to join us for a webinar on the “Fiscal Year 2016 Federal Research and Development (R&D) Budget” on Wednesday, May 20th at 12 noon (EST).

The webinar will provide a deeper understanding of the FY16 R&D Budget, the budget priorities for the Administration and Congress and insights into the impact of federal investments on engineering research.

The presenter for the webinar will be Matthew Hourihan, Director of the R&D Budget and Policy Program for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Registration information is available on the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/

 

SENATOR MURKOWSKI INTRODUCES 17 BILLS TO MODERNIZE AMERICA'S ENERGY POLICIES

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has introduced a group of 17 legislative proposals to modernize America's energy policies. These proposals range from increasing the use of renewable energy to the continued operation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

The proposals are being introduced in advance of legislative hearings related to broad energy legislation that Murkowski, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is working to report out of the committee this summer.

The committee is holding legislative hearings over the coming weeks on the three remaining titles – infrastructure, supply, and accountability – of a broad energy bill being assembled by Chairman Murkowski in consultation with the bipartisan membership of the committee. The three remaining legislative hearings follow the committee's April 30 hearing on energy efficiency.

Murkowski introduced the following proposals in advance of legislative hearings:
S. 1215, Methane Hydrate R&D Amendments Act
S. 1216, De Novo Review of Civil Penalties under the Natural Gas Act
S. 1217, Electric Transmission Infrastructure Permitting Improvement Act
S. 1218, Nexus of Energy and Water for Sustainability (NEWS) Act
S. 1219, Interconnecting Distributed Resources and Examining Net Metering
S. 1220, Energy Distribution Act
S. 1221, Bulk-Power System Reliability Impact Statement Act
S. 1222, Continuity of Electric Capacity Resources Act
S. 1223, Energy Loan Program Improvement Act
S. 1224, The Condensate Act
S. 1225, Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act
S. 1226, American Helium Production Act
S. 1227, Micro-Grid Implementation Strategy
S. 1229, Improving DOE Interaction with the National Laboratories
S. 1230, Memoranda of Understanding with State Oil and Gas Programs
S. 1231, Strategic Petroleum Reserve Modernization Act
S. 1236, Hydropower Improvement Act

To review each of the bills, please visit the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website at: http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/committee-legislation1?page=1.

 

HOUSE ENERGY AND POWER SUBCOMMITTEE CONSIDERS HYDROPOWER PROJECTS AND NATURAL GAS PIPELINES LEGISLATION

The House Energy and Power Subcommittee held a hearing to continue the committee’s work on its “Architecture of Abundance” energy agenda with a review of “Discussion Drafts Addressing Hydropower Regulatory Modernization and FERC Process Coordination under the Natural Gas Act.”

As a clean, renewable source of electricity, hydropower is a component of an all-of the-above energy strategy and could be a source of jobs. According to the subcommittee, the draft legislation seeks to modernize and improve the hydropower licensing and relicensing process to make it more efficient and transparent, while also preserving environmental protections. The draft text also facilitates new hydropower development at non-powered dams. The bill may be read at: http://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF03/20150513/103443/BILLS-114pih-DiscussionDraftonHydropowerRegulatoryModernization.pdf

The subcommittee also discussed draft legislation designed to expedite consideration of natural gas pipelines by reforming and modernizing the siting and review process. The text reinforces the role of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as the lead agency for siting interstate natural gas pipelines and instructs FERC to coordinate with all other agencies involved, setting timelines for the completion of reviews. The draft pipeline bill is available at: http://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF03/20150513/103443/BILLS-114pih-DiscussionDraftonFERCProcess.pdf

Ann Miles, the Director of the Office of Energy Projects at FERC, while generally supportive of the intent of each draft, did have some issues with the each piece of legislation, cautioning that some of the proposed measures may actually reduce the efficiency of FERC’s licensing process by strictly ordering what are currently informal activities. Additionally, several of the witnesses on the second panel representing natural gas and hydropower coalitions and associations, had suggestions to improve the regulation process and make these energy methods more viable.

The full hearing and witness testimony are available at: http://energycommerce.house.gov/hearing/discussion-drafts-addressing-hydropower-regulatory-modernization-and-ferc-process

 

SCIENCE ENERGY SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING ON NUCLEAR ENERGY INNOVATION AND THE NATIONAL LABS

The House Science Energy Subcommittee held a hearing titled “Nuclear Energy Innovation and the National Labs” to examine research activities and infrastructure within the Department of Energy’s (DOE) national laboratories and how the private sector leverages those capabilities for investments with near-term payoff. The hearing focused on research to advance nuclear energy technology.

DOE currently owns 17 national laboratories, 16 of which are operated by contractors as Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs). These government-funded labs provide unique research capabilities to advance scientific research and development (R&D). In certain research areas, private sector companies invest in cooperative R&D with national labs with the goal of commercializing certain technologies.

Nuclear energy technology development relies heavily on the capital intensive and unique systems at the national labs, partially because of its technological complexity and also due to the high regulatory cost to license civilian nuclear activities. Historically, the Atomic Energy Commission and DOE (as its successor) enabled the advancement of nuclear energy technology by using its authority to construct and operate reactors for research purposes. There has been much debate in recent years about whether DOE has lost its competence to continue this work and to what extent it continues to fulfill its mission to enable investment and further research for advanced nuclear energy technology.

The first witness, Dr. Mark Peters, Associate Laboratory Director for Argonne National Laboratory, set the context by talking about how “much of the science that underpins reactor designs were developed in the U.S. under the leadership of DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE).”  But he also recognizes that any future “effort of this scope cannot be undertaken successfully by the national laboratories and universities or by industry alone. Only by pooling the best resources of the federal government and industry can the U.S. progress to the next generation of advanced nuclear energy systems.”

Detailed information on the hearing, including the prepared statements of the witnesses and archived webcast, is available at: http://science.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-energy-hearing-nuclear-energy-innovation-and-national-labs

 

NIST AWARDS $7.8 MILLION FOR ADVANCED MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY PLANNING GRANTS

The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently announced 16 awards totaling $7.8 million to help accelerate the growth of advanced manufacturing in the United States. The grants will support industry-driven consortia in developing research plans and charting collaborative actions to solve high-priority technology challenges.

NIST's Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) Program has awarded the grants to universities and other nonprofit organizations in 11 states and the District of Columbia. The grants range from $413,000 to $500,000 for a period of up to two years. More than 40 organizations will share funding for work done in support of the 16 projects. In addition, more than 250 businesses, trade associations, universities and other organizations will collaborate as unfunded partners.

The new AMTech-funded projects span a wide variety of industries and technologies, from next-generation gas turbines and aerospace manufacturing to hybridized semiconductor and synthetic-biology devices and glass manufacturing.

Thirteen of the projects will launch new consortia. All will initiate technology roadmapping activities or similar efforts intended to identify, prioritize and align research and development in targeted industry sectors.

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

Additional information can be found at: http://www.commerce.gov/news/blog/2015/05/building-high-tech-future-through-partnerships-planning-commerces-nist-announces

 

TWO REPORTS RELEASED ON AMERICA COMPETES REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2015

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its cost estimate of H.R. 1806, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015. The bill was reported by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology on April 22nd.

The CBO analysis found that H.R. 1806 would authorize appropriations totaling about $32 billion over the 2016-2020 period for several agencies to support scientific research, industrial innovation, and certain educational activities. Assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would cost about $32 billion over the 2016-2020 period.

The complete six-page analysis may be viewed at: http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/114th-congress-2015-2016/costestimate/hr1806.pdf

The National Science Foundation (NSF) also released a statement on H.R. 1806.  In the statement, NSF states, “It has been widely anticipated that a new authorizing act would enable actions to enhance the nation's competitiveness through science and innovation. In fact, H.R. 1806 provides findings that support the major ingredients to achieve this--including interdisciplinary research, international partnerships, and the enhancement of a STEM workforce. Yet the specific actions H.R. 1806 proposes contradict these findings.”

To review the specific issues NSF raised about the legislation, visit http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/research-and-development/.

 

NASA UNVEILS LATEST TECHNOLOGY ROADMAPS FOR FUTURE AGENCY NEEDS

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released the agency's 2015 technology roadmaps laying out the promising new technologies that will help NASA achieve its aeronautics, science and human exploration missions for the next 20 years, including the agency's journey to Mars.

The agency is seeking public comment on the draft roadmaps to increase awareness, generate innovative solutions for space exploration and scientific discovery, and inspire public involvement in America's space program. Public input will be accepted until June 10th. To participate, visit: https://2015nasatechroadmaps.taurigroup.com

The roadmaps are a key part of NASA's Strategic Technology Investment Plan, and lay out the strategy, guiding principles and priorities for developing technologies that are essential to NASA's mission and help achieve national goals. Some of the technologies in the roadmap are Launch Propulsion Systems, Space Power and Energy Storage, and Human Exploration Destination Systems. Many of the technologies developed will also help meet the needs of other government agencies as well as support the growth of the American commercial space industry.

To read the draft 2015 NASA technology roadmaps, go to: http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/research-and-development/ under Regulations and Announcements.

 

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

ASME Government Relations
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Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations