November 17, 2017
Capitol Update

In this issue:


The Department of Commerce’s report on ways to address regulatory burdens inside of Commerce that encumber energy production, economic growth, and job creation was recently released. The report contains over 20 different regulatory rules or areas of guidance that could be suspended, revised, or rescinded in line with Section 2(b) of Executive Order (EO) 13783, “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,”

The effort is part of a multiagency reform effort designed to alleviate burdens on domestic energy production. Areas for reform include the licensing and permitting process for energy production on federal lands and improving deadlines for environmental reviews and consultations. Commerce also has plans to introduce an improved method to track application review timelines for new projects and to improve guidance in the application process.

The Department’s review has led to the following proposals, most of which have broad application to multiple industry sectors:

  • Centralized Monitoring and Accountability for Permitting, Authorizations, and Consultations
  • Review of Endangered Species Act (ESA) Informal Consultation Deadlines
  • Improvements in Timely ESA Consultations
  • Improvements in Timely Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) Authorizations and ESA Pre-Listing Conservation Actions
  • Comprehensive Compensatory Mitigation Policy
  • Implement Standards for a Thorough Cost-Benefit Analysis to Be Conducted before National Marine Sanctuaries Are Designated under the NMSA
  • Consider Use of Endangered Species Committee to Streamline the Application Process

The Commerce report is available for download at:


Mike Griffin will be the very first Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering since 1986 and expected to be in place before February 1. Formerly a NASA administrator, he will have the responsibility of instilling a more innovative, risk-tolerant culture in the Department’s science and technology activities.

Pursuant to section 901 the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Department of Defense is required split the current Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics OSD (AT&L) into two –an Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment  [USD (A&S)] and a [USD (R&E)] to become effective February 1, 2018.

A White House statement on Mr. Griffin states that he most recently served as Chairman and CEO of the Schafer Corporation, a provider of scientific, engineering, and technical services and products in the national security sector.  Previously, he served as the Administrator of NASA, where he established the architecture for space shuttle replacement and human return to the Moon and initiated the first development of commercial cargo delivery service to Earth orbit.  He is a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the AIAA Space Systems Medal, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal. 

His career has spanned academia, industry, and the civil and national security government space sectors. He was Deputy for Technology in the Reagan-era Strategic Defense Initiative Office, and President and COO of In-Q-Tel, a CIA-created strategic investor in innovative technologies.


The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) has selected nine projects to receive approximately $12 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development projects with the goal of addressing critical technology gaps and developing advanced combustion system technologies to improve the efficiency and reliability of existing power plants.

Part of the Advanced Combustion Systems (ACS) Program, the progress toward enabling cost-competitive, coal-based power-generation systems will allow the expanded use of coal as well as meet the goal of achieving near-zero pollutant emissions and improving the overall economics of the systems. By making substantial progress toward enabling cost-competitive, coal-based power-generation systems, the selected projects will enable the expanded use of coal, while also meeting the goal of achieving near-zero pollutant emissions and improving the near and long term economics of the systems.

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will manage the projects, which fall under “Advanced Combustion Coal Power Plant Improvement Technologies” and “Advanced Combustion Enabling Technologies and Advanced Concepts.”

To view the selected programs, please visit:


A recent hearing by the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development highlighted cyber workforce gaps and training opportunities. Subcommittee Chairman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) opened the hearing noting that a recent study by Intel Security and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found that 82 percent of participants surveyed reported a shortage of cybersecurity skills in their enterprise. There are more than 209,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. unfilled, and job postings are up 74 percent over the past five years.

Chairman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) of the House Education and the Workforce Committee said in her opening statement that businesses and government are searching for highly-skilled professionals to protect against the growing number of cyber-threats. Witnesses testified that recent studies from the RAND Corporation indicate that demand will likely be met over time due to an increased number of cybersecurity apprenticeship and education programs, and improved curriculum that are aligned with current cybersecurity workforce needs. 

Witness Mr. Douglas Rapp, representing the Cyber Leadership Alliance (CLA), stated that the current methodology of recruiting self-selected college-trained graduates to meet the cyber workforce demands is flawed, and that a holistic approach is needed by creating and following a long-term process of “growing your own” to solve the problem. CLA has modeled that process and is currently proposing it to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development in the form of an application for a SkillUp! Grant, which is governed by a public-private partnership designed to educate, grow, and retain an Indiana based workforce, with jobs available post- (re)training.

The CLA also made several recommendations such as the need for a public private partnerships to create a cyber workforce; partnerships must provide value to its partners who have differing interests; and using the most accurate data to directly correlate to the needs of the market.

To watch the hearing and view witness testimony, please visit:


Recently, the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing related to building 21st century infrastructure. Witnesses representing the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Transportation Construction Coalition, North America’s Building Trades Unions, National Association of Manufacturers, and Sound Transit. Witnesses provided their ideas as highway and transit stakeholders in federal surface transportation policy.

In 2015 alone, 18.1 billion tons of goods worth approximately $19.2 trillion moved through America’s transportation infrastructure and nine percent of the U.S. workforce was directly employed by transportation related industries.

However, with federal highway user fee rates static for nearly 25 years, federal highway and transit program investment growth has failed to keep up with inflation as well as labor and materials cost increases. There has been an uptick in investment by state and local governments, which have begun to augment their own programs, but these increased have not been sufficient to keep transportation infrastructure in a state of good repair.  

The Transportation Construction Coalition testified that federal investment is crucial to ensuring that state departments of transportation (DOTs) are making needed investments in major freight corridors. For example, demand for freight transportation is projected at 40 percent over the next 30 years, requiring billions in investment, and federal investment accounts for 82 percent of rural and 64 percent of urban transit agency capital outlays, in infrastructure and rolling stock. 

Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Subcommittee said that a long-term solution for the Highway Trust Fund is a critical component to ensuring those needs are addressed in the future.  

An archived webcast and full witness testimony is available at:


The NASA Twins Study has produced preliminary results which demonstrate that space travel causes an increase in methylation, a process by which genes are turned on and off, as well as more information about the process.

 “Some of the most exciting things that we’ve seen from looking at gene expression in space is that we really see an explosion, like fireworks taking off, as soon as the human body gets into space,” Twins Study Principal Investigator Chris Mason, Ph.D., of Weill Cornell Medicine, said. “With this study, we’ve seen thousands and thousands of genes change how they are turned on and turned off. This happens as soon as an astronaut gets into space, and some of the activity persists temporarily upon return to Earth.”

The subject of this study are twin astronauts Scott Kelly who returned to Earth in March 2016 and his retired brother Mark Kelly. Thus far the study represents one of the most comprehensive views of human biology and creates a bedrock for understanding molecular risks for space travel as well as ways to potentially protect and fix those genetic changes.”

Final results for the Twins Study are expected to be published in 2018.

Read more about the twin study at this link:

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