November 20, 2015
Capitol Update

In this issue:


ASME has the unique distinction of being the very first engineering/scientific society to have the vision to establish a Congressional fellowship program. For the past 42 years, ASME has provided a valuable service to the nation by sponsoring over 100 Federal Fellows in the Executive and Legislative Branch. ASME Federal Government Fellowships have enabled selected ASME members to devote a year working in government providing engineering and technical advice to policy makers in Congress, federal agencies, and the White House. This premier program serves as a testament to ASME’s long-standing commitment to national security, national issues and the continuing development of the engineering profession.

ASME Members and non-members are invited to join ASME Government Relations for a webinar scheduled for Thursday, December 3rd from 12:00pm-1:00pm (EST) to learn more about the ASME Federal Government Fellowship program. Guest speakers include:

  • Dr. Briana Tomboulian, ASME’s 2015 Congressional Engineering Fellow, has been serving in the office of the Honorable Edward Markey (D-MA), U.S. Senate since January 2015, where she has been working on energy, environment and manufacturing issues.
  • Stephen Lehrman served as ASME’s 2006 Congressional Engineering Fellow for the Honorable Mark Pryor (D-Ark), U.S. Senate. After his fellowship ended in 2006, Mr. Lehrman was offered - and accepted - a position as Legislative Assistant for Sen. Pryor. He was ultimately promoted to Senior Legislative Assistant for the economy, tax, budget, banking, housing, small business, energy, environment, and science and technology policy issues.

Register today at:

Additional information about the webinar and the 2016-2017 ASME Congressional Fellowship and the 2016 America Makes Fellowship available on the ASME Public Policy Education Center at:


Ahead of the International Energy Agency’s Ministerial in Paris, which serves as a lead-up to the COP21 UN Climate Negotiations, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)  has released a new report titled “2015 Revolution Now,” which details the state of several clean energy technologies in the U.S. that provide technology solutions to climate challenges.

The report, which was announced by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz during a discussion at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, builds upon past Revolution Now reports that showed a dramatic increase in deployment and a decrease in cost of four transformational technologies: wind turbines, solar technologies, electric vehicles (EVs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

The 2015 update shows that cost reductions are continuing to drive the adoption of clean energy technologies. The report covers the rapid growth of photovoltaic (PV) solar modules for both large, utility-scale PV plants, and smaller, rooftop, distributed PV systems that have achieved significant deployment nationwide.  DOE continues to invest in research and development for these technologies in addition to reducing market barriers in order to make these clean energy technologies even more cost-effective and widely available across the United States.

Between 2008 and 2014, land-based wind accounted for 31 percent of all new generation capacity installed in the U.S., in part due to early investments from DOE that helped drive the technology innovation that has enabled this growth. As of 2014, there were more than 65,000 megawatts of utility-scale wind power deployed across 39 states — enough to generate electricity for more than 16 million homes — with another 13,600 megawatts under construction in 2015.

By 2014, more than 8 gigawatts of distributed solar PV were installed, which is enough to power roughly 1 million American homes. Utility-scale solar PV grew by 68 percent in 2014 to 9.7 gigawatts total—more than 99 percent of which has been installed since 2008.

The DOE report is linked to the PPEC at:


The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed crucial legislation that provides guidance and certainty for American commercial space partners. The bicameral, bipartisan agreement on H.R. 2262, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, consolidates language from the House-passed SPACE Act with provisions from the Senate’s commercial space legislation. It is now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

Specifically, H.R. 2262:

  • Extends the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulatory learning period through September 30, 2023;
  • Preserves the risk sharing regime that allows American companies to remain internationally competitive through September 30, 2025; and,
  • Provides a four-year extension of the International Space Station (ISS) until at least 2024 that gives certainty for ISS National Laboratory users.

The bicameral, bipartisan agreement on H.R. 2262 may be reviewed at:

Background information about the House bill can be found at:

On November 17th, the House Science Subcommittees on Space and Environment held a joint hearing entitled, “Exploring Commercial Opportunities to Maximize Earth Science Investments.” The hearing explored ways NASA can satisfy Earth science data requirements through public-private partnerships, including commercial capabilities.

Detailed information on that hearing may be viewed at:


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) seeks public comment on a proposed rule based on lessons learned from the March 2011 accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The proposed rule builds on Orders the NRC issued in March 2012.

The proposed rule, published in the November 13th edition of the Federal Register, would apply to operating commercial nuclear power plants, future plants and decommissioning reactors. It would require U.S. commercial reactors to:

  • Maintain resources and procedures to cool a reactor’s core and spent fuel pool, as well as preserve the reactor’s containment, following an event that disables all a/c electrical power sources at a site;
  • Maintain equipment that can reliably measure spent fuel pool water levels after a severe event;
  • Establish requirements for an integrated response capability, including command and control, drills and training; and,
  • Enhance requirements for onsite emergency response capabilities.

The proposed rule consolidates information from two earlier rulemaking processes involving station blackout mitigating strategies and onsite emergency response. All of these efforts are based on recommendations from a task force of senior NRC managers that examined the lessons from the Fukushima accident.

For more information about the proposed rule, please visit:

Comments will be accepted until February 11, 2016. They may be submitted over the federal government’s rulemaking website, using Docket ID NRC-2014-0240.


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released the Federal Laboratory Technology Transfer, Fiscal Year 2013, Summary Report to the President and Congress. The government-wide results include both quantitative measures (e.g., number of licenses, earned royalty income, etc.) and qualitative indicators (e.g., anecdotal evidence of downstream outcomes and benefits) of effectiveness, organized by agency and summarized at the national level.

Examples of federal technologies that were developed and successfully transferred in FY 2013 include:

  • Cellulose nanofiber composites that can serve as substrates for flexible electronics, through a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Products Laboratory and the University of Wisconsin, Madison;
  • The Public Safety Broad Band Demonstration Network, which provides a viable platform where members of the telecommunications industry can work together to design, develop and implement a variety of public safety technologies for emergency service agencies nationwide, from NIST and several partners;
  • A new software code for predicting the behavior and failure of materials and structures composed of at least two different materials, such as fiber and resin, by the Air Force and its industry partners;
  • A battery technology licensed by a Massachusetts company to build an energy-storage platform for a broad variety of energy companies, including those involved in wind and solar power, from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; and,
  • A new medical device that uses magnets to stimulate the brain, which is being used as a non-invasive system for treating neuropsychiatric diseases, developed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health.

The report may be viewed at:


U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) this week requesting a comprehensive study of the costs and risks that climate change poses to the federal government. The senators also asked GAO to evaluate which federal policy actions could have the largest influence in mitigating the effects of climate change and resulting federal liabilities. 

The Senator’s letter notes, “In testimony submitted to the Senate Budget Committee last year, the GAO concluded that: (1) the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events – prolonged heat, heavy downpours, flooding, and droughts – is increasing; (2) extreme weather events have cost the nation tens of billions of dollars in damages over the past decade; and (3) the federal budget does not generally account for disaster assistance or the long-term impacts of climate change on federal infrastructure and programs.[4] For these reasons, in 2013 the GAO added the need to limit the federal government’s fiscal exposure from climate change impacts to its list of 30 most significant risks facing the federal government.”  

Specifically, the Senator’s requested that the GAO report back on the following questions:

  • What is known about how estimates of economic benefits and costs of climate change in the United States are developed?
  • What is known about the estimated range of economic benefits and costs of climate change in the United States (a) at present and (b) in the near future assuming no change in federal policy?
  • Based on these estimates, what federal policy actions could have the largest influence in offsetting federal costs associated with climate change?

The full letter is available at:

Visit the ASME Public Policy Education Center at for daily news and policy developments, including the following:

ASME Government Relations
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20036