November 21, 2014
Capitol Update

In this issue:



The U.S. Senate on November 18th failed to cast the 60 votes necessary to move S. 2280, a bill to authorize construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, to the President’s desk. The vote was 59-41 with 14 Democrats voting in favor of the legislation. Read the bill at

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that legislation to authorize construction of Keystone XL will be introduced early in the next Congress.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a companion measure, H.R. 5682 (, a bill authored by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), which would approve the application for the Keystone XL pipeline. The vote was 252-161, with 31 Democrats voting in favor and no Republicans voting against.

Republicans are vowing to try again when the new Congress convenes as noted in “GOP Eyes ‘Creative” Keystone Options to Bypass Veto” on the ASME Public Policy Education Center at



The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) released its assessment in accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005, in which the United States Congress directed NERC to conduct periodic assessments of the reliability and adequacy of the bulk power system (BPS) in North America.

The 2014 Long-Term Reliability Assessment (2014LTRA) provides a wide-area perspective on the adequacy of the generation, demand-side resources, and transmission systems necessary to meet system reliability needs over the next decade. This assessment includes NERC’s independent identification of issues that may impact the reliability of the BPS to provide industry, regulators, and policy makers with adequate time to address or otherwise develop plans to mitigate potential reliability impacts caused by these issues. This assessment also documents current industry plans to maintain reliability during the next decade, advising regulators, policy makers, and the general public of existing and potential challenges, complexities, and interdependencies.

The electricity industry provided NERC with resource adequacy projections for the 2015–2024 assessment period. NERC independently assessed these projections and identified three key findings that will impact the long-term reliability of the North American BPS and materially change the way the system is planned and operated. These key findings are:

  • Reserve Margins in several Assessment Areas are trending downward, despite low load growth.
  • Environmental regulations create uncertainty and require assessment.
  • A changing resource mix requires new approaches for assessing reliability.

Additional information and the full report is available at



The White House Council on Women and Girls released a report entitled “Women and Girls of Color: Addressing Challenges and Expanding Opportunity”. This report highlights work the Administration has done over the last six years to reduce barriers to success for everyone including women and girls of color. From continuing to fight to increase the minimum wage, encouraging women to enter STEM-related fields, providing increased access to health screenings and much more, this report re-emphasizes the Administration’s commitment to helping all women succeed in every area of their lives.

In recent years, based upon indicators ranging from educational attainment to economic security to health and well-being, women and girls of color have made tremendous progress. The number of businesses owned by women of color has skyrocketed, and women of color have ascended to the upper ranks of workplaces across industries. Teen pregnancy rates for girls of color have plummeted, and high school and college graduation rates have risen.

Yet, these achievements may obscure the very real challenges and disparities that persist for women and girls of color. Girls of color still lag behind in their performance on standardized tests, and they are more likely to be suspended from school. Women and girls of color still face higher rates of poverty and receive lower wages for their work than their white peers, and they are more likely to become involved in the criminal justice system. Women of color still have some of the highest rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other serious conditions, and they experience high rates of domestic violence. And when women are the primary or sole breadwinners for nearly half of all households of color, these disparities do not just affect them, but their families and communities as well.

To read the report, visit



As part of a comprehensive national review process, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is soliciting public comments to support the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) in writing the NCISR R&D Plan. Critical infrastructure includes cyber and physical assets, systems, and networks comprising the 16 critical infrastructure sectors identified in PPD–21.

Written comments are encouraged and will be accepted until December 17, 2014. Comments, identified by docket number DHS–2013–0074, may be submitted by the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal at Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Email: R& Include the docket number DHS–2013–0074 in the subject line of the message.
  • Mail: Kristin Wyckoff, DHS/S&T/RSD, 445 Murray Lane SW., Mail Stop 0208, Washington, DC 20528–0208.

The Federal Register notice and background documents are available under “Regulations and Announcements” at



The Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee (NEAC) will hold an open meeting in on Wednesday, December 10th, at Westin Crystal City, 1800 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA 22202. The purpose of the meeting is to inform the committee of recent developments and current status of research programs and projects pursued by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy and receive advice and comments in return from the committee.

The meeting is expected to include presentations that cover such topics as an update on activities for the Office of Nuclear Energy. In addition, there will be presentations by Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee subcommittees. The agenda may change to accommodate committee business. For updates, visit

Individuals and representatives of organizations who would like to offer comments and suggestions may do so on the day of the meeting. Approximately 30 minutes will be reserved for public comments. Time allotted per speaker will depend on the number who wish to speak but is not expected to exceed five minutes. Anyone who is not able to make the meeting or has had insufficient time to address the committee is invited to send a written statement to Bob Rova, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington DC 20585, or email at:

Additional information on NEAC 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

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