May 25, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:


WHITE HOUSE CONVENES SUMMIT ON THE FUTURE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN AMERICAN INDUSTRY

The White House recently hosted a summit on Artificial Intelligence for American Industry. The event brought together over 100 academic researchers, industry experts and senior government officials for a discussion on the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its potential benefits for American businesses, along with the regulatory landscape necessary to achieve them. Attendees included Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar, and National Science Foundation Director France Cordova.

As the U.S. seeks to maintain its leadership on the global R&D stage, the administration has repeatedly stated that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)—including AI—is a regulatory priority across the agencies. The event focused on the use of AI in the following sectors:

  • Agriculture and Food Services
  • Energy and Manufacturing
  • Financial Services
  • Healthcare
  • Transportation and Logistics
Over the course of the day, summit attendees had the opportunity to participate in two sets of breakout sessions to discuss issues such as AI research and development (R&D), workforce development, regulatory barriers to AI innovation and sector-specific applications of AI. Key takeaways from the day’s events included: the need to develop a technology-proficient


DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AWARDS $72 MILLION FOR PROJECTS TO ADVANCE CONCENTRATED SOLAR POWER TECHNOLOGIES

Following the tariffs President Trump enacted on imported solar materials earlier this year, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced it has awarded $72 million to selected projects that advance high-temperature concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies. CSP technology generates energy by using large mirrors or lenses to reflect and concentrate a large area of sunlight or solar thermal energy to a small, specific area.

The current commercially available CSP technologies can receive solar heat and deliver it to a working fluid at a temperature of 565°C. The new DOE Generation 3 CSP (Gen 3 CSP), is hoping to reach working fluid temperatures of up to 700°C. If these new projects achieve this goal, it could lower CSP-generated electricity by $0.02 per kilo-watt hour. The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has a goal of reducing costs by $0.05 per kilowatt hour by 2030. 

Three teams have been selected to build a CSP system in accordance with DOE’s goals. After a two year period, one team will be awarded an additional $25 million to develop their proposed test facility. In addition to these three teams, eight additional awardees have been selected to develop either component-level technology, or utilize unique cross-cutting research capabilities to support the goal of a successfully integrated testing site. National labs were provided $10 million to support this work.

In discussing the projects, Daniel Simmons, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy said, “DOE has led the world in CSP research. These projects will help facilitate the next wave of new technologies and continue the effort to maintain American leadership in this space.”

For more information about the CSP Projects, click here: https://www.energy.gov/articles/department-energy-announces-72-million-advance-high-temperature-concentrating-solar-power


NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL IS SEEKING NEW POLICIES TO SAFEGUARD THE ELECTRIC GRID THAT DO NOT SUBSIDIZE COAL OR NUCLEAR POWER

The National Security Council (NSC) is at the helm of a search for new policies to protect the electric grid that does not include any efforts to subsidize coal or nuclear power. The search panel is being led by Mira Ricardel, a deputy to White House National Security Adviser John Bolton.  The NSC is chaired by the President, and is the administration’s principal forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters amongst senior national security advisers and Cabinet officials. The Department of Energy holds a permanent seat on the NSC.

NSC officials report that the current discussions are broaching the topic from a resilience and defense perspective. This includes looking at the state of critical infrastructure overall, as well as established policies such as the Defense Production Act of 1950, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015 and the Energy Policy Act.

Cybersecurity is rapidly becoming a key priority for federal agencies as processes move towards a more digital format. While coal and nuclear energy have been bandied about as potential support mechanisms for the grid, many grid experts caution against focusing on these sources of energy and favor other more effective and affordable energy sources.

For further information about better electric grid energy sources, click here: https://gridprogress.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/customer-focused-resilience-final-050118.pdf


HOUSE AND SENATE RELEASE NEW BILLS CALLING FOR IMRPOVED WATER RESOURCES INFRASTRUCTURE

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently released their new water resources bills titled, “America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018” (S. 2800), and “The Water Resources Development Act” (WRDA) (H.R. 8), respectively. Both pieces of legislation lay out improvements to be made to American ports, waterways, dams, and other water resources infrastructure. To achieve these goals, the bills adhere to the process laid out in the 2014 water resources law that call for much of this improvement work to be carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers. The House WRDA bill also directs the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to examine whether relocating the Civil Works Division of the Army Corps of Engineers from the Department of Defense "to a new or existing agency or sub-agency of the federal government" would have an impact on the division’s ability to carry out its mandated duties. The bill instructs the NAS to work with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of Management and Budget to come to a determination.

“WRDA positively impacts every single state and district in the country," Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) said in a statement. "This infrastructure is vital to moving goods throughout the country, from the products we all use in our daily lives, to the crops, resources, and goods we produce locally and send overseas in foreign commerce. WRDA works because it improves critical water resources infrastructure, strengthens the economy, and protects our communities."

To view Senate Bill S. 2800, click here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/2800/text

To view House Bill H.R. 8, click here: https://transportation.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hr8-wrda2018.pdf


DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY RELEASES FIVE-YEAR INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN TO PROTECT AGAINST CYBER-ATTACKS

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently released its five year plan to protect U.S. infrastructure against cyber-attacks.  The plan includes a detailed explanation of the new Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER), which is tasked with helping keep the nation’s energy infrastructure safe from cyber-attacks, and contributing research to head off such attacks before they occur.

In a recently published letter dating back to March, DOE Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Bruce Walker explained, “The Plan outlines a gamechanging [sic] strategy for DOE, informed by the energy industry's highest-priority needs, which can continue to be built upon by CESER leadership.”

The plan lays out three goals to achieving its “OE Cybersecurity Strategy: Winning Today and Changing the Game for Tomorrow”:

  • Strengthen Energy Sector Cybersecurity Preparedness
  • Coordinate Cyber Incident Response and Recovery
  • Accelerate Game-Changing RD&D of Resilient Energy Delivery Systems

But as Walker explains in the plan, “While the Plan outlines activities specifically for DOE, we look forward to conducting these efforts in close partnership with the energy industry and federal and non-federal partners throughout the nation.”

To view the full plan, click here: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2018/05/f51/DOE Multiyear Plan for Energy Sector Cybersecurity _0.pdf.


NEW REPORT CONTENDS THAT HIGHER EDUCATION CURRICULA THAT COMBINE TECHNICAL AND LIBERAL ARTS DISCIPLINES BETTER PREPARE STUDENTS FOR THE WORKFORCE

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Mathematics contends that stronger integration of liberal arts disciplines with a science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) curriculum may help better prepare students entering the workforce. Multidisciplinary programs that combine STEM and humanities curricula are a growing trend in higher education that have developed in response to an education system that is becoming increasingly siloed by discipline. “The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in Higher Education” report examines this changing tide in academia and what institutions need to bear in mind as they strive to prepare students for life post-graduation.

“Public discourse has increasingly reflected a tension about whether higher education should be focused primarily on developing practical workforce skills or more broadly on fostering an enlightened, engaged citizenry,” explained David Skorton, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and chair of the study committee. “But evidence suggests that integrating the STEMM fields with the arts and humanities is linked to learning outcomes that support both of those goals, and that serve students well in many aspects of life.”

In addition to discussing the benefits of siloed versus interdisciplinary curricula, the report also provides several recommendations for developing the most effective programs to prepare students for life after school. These recommendations also extend to additional research that should be conducted in the representation of women and minorities in specific disciplines.

To view the full report, click here: https://www.nap.edu/read/24988/chapter/1

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

Paul Fakes is the Regulatory and Government Relations Manager, Technology Policy. He covers Standards and Energy and Environment.

Samantha Fijacko is the Senior Government Relations Representative. She covers Advanced Manufacturing, Robotics and R&D.

Anne Nadler is the Government Relations Representative. She covers Bioengineering, STEM Education and R&D.