May 5, 2014
Capitol Update

In this issue:

 

ENGINEERING PUBLIC POLICY SYMPOSIUM HIGHLIGHTS ENERGY AND MANUFACTURING POLICY PRIORITIES: SPONSORED BY 43 ENGINEERING SOCIETIES

The 2014 Engineering Public Policy Symposium was recently convened in Washington, D.C. to highlight energy and manufacturing public policy issues. The annual event brought together over 100 leaders - Presidents, President-Elects and Executive Directors - from 43 national engineering societies, representing more than two million engineers. ASME served as the Chair and lead organizer of the Symposium, which was made possible by a grant from the United Engineering Foundation.

The day long Symposium featured key speakers from the Administration and Congress, who discussed their strategies to encourage a resurgence in the U.S. manufacturing sector and the challenges and opportunities facing the energy industry. Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, served as the event’s keynote speaker, and spoke about the Administration’s strong emphasis on investing in technology innovation and R&D, and in promoting a ‘maker culture’ in the United States. Kalil asked the engineering community for support for the President’s vision for creating a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), and for assistance in promoting manufacturing events around the country – like the upcoming White House Maker Faire – to promote the maker movement and a culture that celebrates engineering and science.

Switching to energy issues, the Honorable Daniel Poneman, Deputy Secretary of Energy highlighted some of the Department of Energy’s priority initiatives, including the President’s Climate Action Plan. Poneman’s comments underscored how severe weather events like Hurricane Sandy serve as a reminder of the vulnerability of the U.S. electric grid, and the key role that engineers must play in developing strategies for adapting to and mitigating the effects of both natural and man-made threats to critical infrastructure.

Providing perspectives from the 113th Congress, the Honorable Chris Collins, one of a handful of engineers in Congress, spoke about his efforts to bring engineering perspectives to public policy. The Honorable Tom Reed and the Honorable Tim Ryan were honored for their leadership in manufacturing policy as co-chairs of the House Manufacturing Caucus and their work in advancing manufacturing in Congress. In closing, congressional staff from Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE) office discussed legislative action being taken in the Senate to improve the manufacturing base in the United States.

ASME President Madiha Kotb presented an award to the Honorable Patrick Gallagher, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), U.S. Department of Commerce, recognizing Dr. Gallagher’s leadership in promoting industrial innovation and competitiveness and advancing policies to promote U.S. leadership in science, standards, and technology. Dr. Gallagher has played an important role in promoting the NNMI, which will be supported through a mixture of public and private stakeholders and will focus on research related to manufacturing competitiveness.

Following the conclusion of the Symposium, outreach to congressional leaders continued as attendees met with their congressional representatives in the House and Senate to discuss engineering and science budget priorities, urge sustained federal funding to support to Energy and R&D, and to support the implementation of the NNMI.

The following day, ASME President Madiha Kotb presented the ASME President’s Award to Dr. Patrick Gallagher at a meeting at the Department of Commerce. Established in 1998, the ASME President's Award is presented to individuals and companies who have demonstrated significant contributions to the engineering profession. Dr. Gallagher joins a distinguished group of past recipients, including former NASA administrator Daniel S. Goldin; Dean Kaman, the founder of For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST); Westinghouse Electric Company; U.S. Naval Academy, and the Apollo 11 astronauts, among others.

 

SENATE APPROPRIATIONS HOLDS HEARING ON "DRIVING INNOVATION THROUGH FEDERAL INVESTMENTS"

The Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing entitled, “Driving Innovation Through Federal Investments.” Witnesses included the Directors of several federal science agencies including the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The written statements of each of the witnesses are available at: http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings-and-testimony/outside-witness-testimony-federal-innovation-hearing

The hearing focused on the role of federal investments in sparking innovation and discovery that save lives, improve national security, create American jobs and grow the economy. In her opening remarks, Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) observed, “Research and development is conducted by more than two dozen federal Departments and agencies. The total request for research and development for Fiscal Year 2015 is $135 billion. That includes $32 billion for basic research – research to discover; $33 billion for applied research – research to solve problems; $68 billion for development – to create products, processes; and $2.6 billion for facilities and equipment – the infrastructure needed for research and innovation. All told, research and development will account for an historic low 4 percent of the federal budget.”

OSTP Director John Holdren provided additional context for the role that federal investment plays in promoting innovation. “Federal investments in R&D help to: sustain the Federal component of the world-leading U.S. research, development, and innovation enterprise; incentivize the private sector to lift its game in research, development, and innovation; advance public-private partnerships that are restoring U.S. leadership in advanced manufacturing; boost research on growing public-health challenges including neurodegenerative diseases and antibiotic resistance; support further advances in cleaner, American energy; enhance the Nation’s capacity to address global climate-change through a combination of emissions reductions, preparedness and resilience, and global leadership; and continue to provide for the technological advances that have always given our armed forces the edge over every potential adversary.

“And investments in STEM education provide for the next generation of discoverers, inventors, and high-tech entrepreneurs; ensure that the Nation has the tech-savvy workforce that the jobs of the 21st century require; and help create the science-savvy citizenry so important to a well-functioning democracy in a world where many of the issues before our policy makers have a science dimension.”

More than 100 organizations submitted written statements ahead of the committee's hearing. Chairwoman Mikulski invited outside organizations to participate by submitting written testimony that will be included as part of the hearing record. Those statements may be read at:
http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings-and-testimony/outside-witness-testimony-federal-innovation-hearing

An archived webcast of the hearing may be viewed at http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/webcast/driving-innovation-through-federal-investments-note-video-stream-will-not-go-live-until

 

COMMITTEE APPROVES BIPARTISAN NASA AUTHORIZATION ACT

The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology approved the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Authorization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4412) with unanimous bipartisan support. The bipartisan bill reaffirms Congress's commitment to space exploration, both human and robotic, and makes clear that human spaceflight to Mars is NASA's primary goal.

The bipartisan Manager's Amendment, offered by Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-MS) and Ranking Member Donna Edwards (D-MD), increases the use of the International Space Station for science research, encourages commercial use of space, protects the country from the effects of solar flares, helps remove orbital debris, and supports the development of a new space telescope that will detect Earth-sized planets.

The NASA Authorization Act of 2014 continues the consistent guidance Congress has given to NASA for nearly a decade by reaffirming a stepping stone approach to exploration in a go-as-you-can-afford-to-pay manner by developing an exploration roadmap. It supports the development on the Space Launch System and the Orion Crew Vehicle to push the boundaries of human exploration, and focuses NASA's efforts to again develop a capability to access low Earth orbit and the International Space Station from American soil.

The bill also supports a healthy science directorate that reflects the input from the scientific community and an aeronautics research directorate that contributes to our nation's aerospace economy.

For more information about the markup, including the full text of the bill and the Manager's Amendment, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website at: http://science.house.gov/markup/full-committee-markup-hr-4412

 

ARPA-E ANNOUNCES $60 MILLION FOR DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGIES TO CUT EMISSIONS, BOOST ENERGY EFFICIENCY

The Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has announced up to $60 million for two new programs to detect and measure methane emissions and develop innovative localized thermal management systems that cut the energy needed to heat and cool buildings.

The first program is Methane Observation Networks with Innovative Technology to Obtain Reductions (MONITOR). In the United States, methane emissions make up nearly nine percent of all greenhouse gas emitted as result of human activity, and methane pollution is projected to increase to a level equivalent to over 620 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution in 2030 absent additional action to reduce emissions.

ARPA-E's new MONITOR program will help the oil and gas sector reduce methane emissions and build a more sustainable energy future. The program will make up to $30 million available to help U.S. teams develop low-cost, highly-sensitive systems that detect and measure methane associated with the production and transportation of oil and natural gas. If successful, MONITOR's technologies could accurately and cost-effectively measure methane emissions and provide a detection network to mitigate the release of this greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

The second program, Delivering Efficient Local Thermal Amenities (DELTA), will help develop innovative localized heating and cooling devices to expand temperature ranges within buildings – enhancing personal comfort while saving energy. While most of today's heating and cooling systems are designed to heat and cool entire buildings, DELTA seeks to develop both installed and wearable devices that can regulate temperatures in close proximity to a building's occupants. This localized thermal management will enable buildings to operate in wider temperature ranges while still ensuring occupant comfort, which would dramatically reduce the building's energy consumption and associated emissions.

For more information about these two new funding opportunities, please visit: https://arpa-e-foa.energy.gov/

 

ENERGY DEPARTMENT RELEASES NEW GUIDANCE FOR STRENGTHENING CYBERSECURITY OF THE GRID'S SUPPLY CHAIN

On April 28th, DOE released new guidance to help U.S. industry strengthen energy delivery system cybersecurity. Developed through a public-private working group including federal agencies and private industry leaders, the Department’s “Cybersecurity Procurement Language for Energy Delivery Systems” guidance provides strategies and suggested language to help the U.S. energy sector and technology suppliers build in cybersecurity protections during product design and manufacturing.

The new guidance focuses on helping utilities and other energy sector organizations purchase technologies that include cybersecurity protections and features – improving the overall reliability and security of energy delivery systems and ensuring that the testing, manufacturing, delivery, and installation of new technologies emphasize cybersecurity requirements. This energy delivery systems guidance builds on the “Cybersecurity Procurement Language for Control Systems” guidance developed in collaboration between industry, the Energy Department, its Idaho National Laboratory, and the Department of Homeland Security in 2009.

To review the full Cybersecurity Procurement Language for Energy Delivery Systems guidance, please visit: http://energy.gov/oe/downloads/cybersecurity-procurement-language-energy-delivery-april-2014

Additional information on the Energy Department's efforts to modernize and secure the power grid is available at: http://energy.gov/oe/office-electricity-delivery-and-energy-reliability

 

DOE REPORT FINDS MAJOR POTENTIAL TO GROW CLEAN, SUSTAINABLE U.S. HYDROPOWER

DOE and its Oak Ridge National Laboratory have released a renewable energy resource assessment detailing the potential to develop new electric power generation in waterways across the United States. The report estimates over 65 gigawatts (GW) of potential new hydropower development across more than three million U.S. rivers and streams –equivalent to the current U.S. hydropower capacity. These findings demonstrate one of the ways the United States can further diversify its energy portfolio with sustainable and clean domestic power generation.

Hydropower makes up seven percent of total U.S. electric generating capacity and continues to be the United States’ largest source of renewable electricity, avoiding over 200 million metric tons of carbon emissions each year. Hydropower also provides reliable baseload power day and night – providing greater flexibility and diversity to the electric grid and allowing utilities to integrate other renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

“The New Stream-reach Development Assessment” capitalizes on recent advancements in geospatial datasets and represents the most detailed evaluation of U.S. hydropower potential at undeveloped streams and rivers to date. The greatest hydropower potential was found in mostly western U.S. states.

The hydropower resource assessment also analyzed technical, socioeconomic and environmental characteristics that will help energy developers, policymakers and local communities identify the most promising locations for sustainable hydropower facilities. The assessment includes stream- and river-specific information on local wildlife habitats, protected lands, water use and quality and fishing access areas.

Additional information on the new assessment may be found at: http://nhaap.ornl.gov/nsd

 

NASA SEEKS TO EVOLVE SPACE STATION FOR NEW COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITIES

As part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) continuing effort to open low-Earth orbit to commercial space opportunities, the agency is seeking feedback on ways it can help create greater access to and use of the International Space Station for research and commercial activities. Through a Request for Information (RFI), NASA is soliciting ideas from companies interested in using the space station and the low-Earth orbit environment in innovative ways that will develop a strong commercial market and assist the agency in achieving its exploration goals.

The expanding U.S. commercial space industry has been able to create self-sustaining economic opportunities in low-Earth orbit, enabled by NASA's commitment to reducing and removing barriers to a commercially-driven U.S. market. This has allowed the agency to sharpen its focus on deep space exploration.

NASA announced January 9th that it intends to extend the country's commitment to the International Space Station to at least 2024. This extension provides opportunities, some already under implementation, to broaden private market access to the unique microgravity environment aboard the space station.

Responses to the RFI should detail ideas that could further efforts to:

  • Create a private system in low-Earth orbit;
  • Develop crew transportation to enable commercial activities aboard the station beyond NASA requirements;
  • Break down access-, programmatic- and business-related barriers to realizing these objectives;
  • Address NASA capabilities or expertise that would help facilitate transitioning to a more commercially-driven presence; or,
  • Identify capabilities and resources NASA could purchase from the commercial sector to allow NASA research activities to continue beyond the life of the space station.

Responses also may provide recommendations on how private research, and other activities, could be performed on the space station to foster future commercial value or demand for access to low-Earth orbit and further NASA's exploration mission.

Responses should be no more than 20 pages and are due by June 30th. The complete RFI is available at: http://go.nasa.gov/1lot8fm

 

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

  • Melissa Carl covers public policy-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and diversity issues for ASME. She can be reached at carlm@asme.org
  • Paul Fakes covers public policy-related energy, standards and environmental issues for ASME. He can be reached at fakesp@asme.org
  • Roy Chrobocinski covers public policy-related research and development (R&D) and manufacturing issues for ASME. He can be reached at chrobocinski@asme.org