October 26, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:


APPLY FOR A 2019-2020 ASME CONGRESSIONAL FELLOWSHIP! OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE IN ENERGY, BIOENGINEERING AND ADVANCED MANUFACTURING

Since 1973, ASME has sponsored 125 Federal Government Fellows providing them with an opportunity to serve a one-year term in the Administration or U.S. Congress. Fellows serve as independent, non-biased advisors in engineering, science and technology, bringing a nonpartisan, pragmatic approach to analysis and input which has a profound impact on the decision making process. The result is effective and technologically appropriate public policy based on sound engineering principles.

Applications for our “2019-2020 ASME Congressional Fellowships” are now being accepted until January 31, 2019. Applicants for these Fellowships must have a strong background in energy, bioengineering and/or advanced manufacturing.

General information about the ASME Federal Government Fellowship Program is available at https://www.asme.org/about-asme/get-involved/advocacy-government-relations/federal-fellows-program

To apply, please visit: https://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations/federal-fellows-program/new-20182019-congressional-fellowship-energy


ADMINISTRATION’S FALL REGULATORY AGENDA CALLS FOR $18 BILLION IN REGULATORY CUTS

The White House recently released its Fall Regulatory Agenda, providing a look at the direction it wants to go in with its regulatory policies. The agenda is released every year in the fall and the spring with a list of all the policies every federal agency is working on, as well as what has dropped in importance. The Fall 2018 agenda proposes regulatory cuts of roughly $18 billion. A strong focus was placed on the regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). President Trump recently asserted that the strength of the current economy can be at least in part attributed to businesses not being constricted by “ridiculous regulations,” which pertain particularly to EPA rules.

Among the list of regulatory cuts is the “Secret Science” Rule at the EPA. The EPA previously announced its intentions to limit the type and scope of science used to draft regulations, and ensure that the regulatory science underlying its actions is publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent validation. The new agenda notes that implementation of this rule has been pushed back to January 2020.

Another EPA regulation noted in the agenda is the toxic air pollution limits for power plants. The EPA is presently examining the current limits that were imposed under the Obama administration following a Supreme Court edict to take a second look at how the previous administration determined the costs and benefits of air pollution limits and set the regulation currently in place.

The Department of Energy notes that it has changed the status of setting efficiency standards for home appliances from long-term agenda to pre-rule stages. However there are currently still a slew of other regulations pertaining to appliance standards that remain in flux.

To view the full Fall 2018 Regulatory Agenda, click here: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaMain


WHITE HOUSE REACTS TO RECENT UN CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT AND RELEASES DATA STATING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS DROPPED 3 PERCENT UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP

The UN recently released a report noting that if greenhouse gas (gHg) emissions continue at the current rate, there could be severe long-term consequences (see the Capitol Update Article on this report here). In response to the report, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated that the agency is taking the report’s findings very seriously. He cited new data the White House recently released by the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GGRP), which states that gHg emissions have dropped since President Trump assumed office.

According to the recently released GGRP data, gHg emissions decreased by 2.7 percent between 2016 and 2017. “The 2.7 percent reduction shows what an advancement in technologies can do in the private sector without government intervention stepping in. I think that’s very important,” Wheeler said.

The data notes that this decrease is part of a longer-term reduction that has been occurring over the past decade and can be attributed to the uptick in renewable energy use.

Supporting what the UN report notes, the GGRP data concurs that the Power Plants Sector was the largest emitter of gHg, emitting 1.8 billion metric tons of CO2e in 2017. On a positive note however, since 2011 there has been a 19.3 percent decline in gHg emissions from power plants collectively across the country. The second largest emitter of gHg after power plants, by something of a longshot, was the Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems Sector with 284 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2e, followed by the Chemicals Sector with 184 MMT CO2e.

To view the GGRP report in full, click here: https://www.epa.gov/ghgreporting/ghgrp-reported-data#emissions-trends


FINAL CALL FOR COMMENTS ON ADMINISTRATION’S ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE STRATEGY

The National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC) Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence is currently accepting comments on its National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan. The plan was originally released in October 2016 with seven strategic aims:

  • Make long-term investments in AI research
  • Develop effective methods for human-AI collaboration.
  • Understand and address the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI.
  • Ensure the safety and security of AI systems.
  • Develop shared public datasets and environments for AI training and testing.
  • Measure and evaluate AI technologies through standards and benchmarks.
  • Better understand the national AI R&D workforce needs.

As the technology behind artificial intelligence (AI) continues to evolve and work its way into society at a breakneck pace, the NSTC is now looking to update the strategy and determine how this technology can best be leveraged. The U.S. is currently a leader in AI, and through constant updates, the strategy seeks to maintain this global leadership.

Calls for comments, suggestions and edits to the strategy were first listed in the Federal Register last month following the White House’s decision to task the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence with improving coordination of Federal efforts in AI earlier this year. The request for public input was listed in the Federal Register. The comment period for this report closes October 26 at 11:59pm.

To view the Federal Register notice and leave comments, click here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/09/26/2018-20914/request-for-information-on-update-to-the-2016-national-artificial-intelligence-research-and


DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY SEEKING PROJECTS TO STRENGTHEN AGENCY’S DEEPWATER ENHANCED OIL RECOVERY CAPABILITIES

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (FE) recently issued a Notice of Intent for a funding opportunity that will strengthen the ability of deepwater enhanced oil recovery EOR0 of conventional resources. The FOA: DE-FOA-0002005, Advanced Operations and Sensing Technologies to Improve Efficiency and Capabilities for EOR in Deepwater Offshore Wells has been announced to bolster DOE’s offshore oil and gas portfolio. The primary goal of the FOA is to advance promising low technology readiness level (TRL) offshore operations and sensing technologies such as, but not limited to, those that DOE/FE previously initiated with industry under its Ultra-Deepwater Offshore Program.

The official FOA will be released at the beginning of 2019. All projects will be carried out in two phases. The first phase will comprise laboratory validation and prototype development, while the second phase will be field testing of an integrated full-scale prototype. To guarantee enhanced commercialization potential, evidence of industry support and/or cost share will be required prior to the start of phase 2.

To view the full NOI, click here: https://www.fedconnect.net/FedConnect/default.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2ffedconnect%3fdoc%3dDE-FOA-0002011%26agency%3dDOE&doc=DE-FOA-0002011&agency=DOE


U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY ANNOUNCES NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES

U.S, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recently announced a new long-term partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Colorado School of Mines (Mines). The partnership will bring 150 USGS scientists in the minerals research labs to work alongside Mines faculty and students in a new state-of-the-art facility at the university’s Golden, CO campus.

“This is a great day for the USGS and for Colorado School of Mines,” said Secretary Zinke. “The majority of USGS’s work is on federal lands in the west, but their research is also used by government agencies, the private sector, universities, nonprofits and partners all over the world. Partnering with Colorado School of Mines, a world-class earth science research institution, and co-locating our scientists and researchers creates incredible opportunities to spur innovation and transformational breakthroughs, while also providing an incredible pool of talent from which to recruit.”

Mines and the USGS already have a preexisting relationship that goes back over 40 years. The USGS Geologic Hazards Science Center and the National Earthquake Information Center already have locations on the Mines campus. This new partnership will build on the existing relationships between USGS scientists and Mines faculty and students in collaboration towards tackling the nation’s natural resource, security and environmental challenges, and exploring frontiers where the next innovations in earth and space resources, technology and engineering will occur.

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