October 31, 2014
Capitol Update

In this issue:



The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) 2.0 Committee, led by its co-chairs, Dow’s Andrew Liveris and MIT’s Rafael Reif, presented its final report with a set of new recommendations and additional policy steps to respond to them.

The President created AMP, a working group of 19 leaders in industry, academia, and labor, in June 2011 to maintain the competitive edge on emerging technologies and invest in the future of the manufacturing sector. 

AMP’s final report, released this week, includes new recommendations to address three key pillars that support American manufacturing: innovation, the talent pipeline, and the business climate. To support these recommendations and further strengthen American manufacturing, the President is taking new executive actions that will target these areas.

In addition to the AMP report, the President announced a set of Administration led initiatives to strengthen U.S. manufacturing.  These initiatives include:

  • Investing more than $300 million in emerging manufacturing technologies;
  • Expanding workforce development strategies through $100 Million American Apprenticeships grant competition; and
  • Launching new tools and a five-year initial investment to support small manufacturers in the supply chain.

To review the Administration’s proposals and read the full AMP report, please visit http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/manufacturing-innovation-competitiveness/  



ASME is currently accepting applications for our 2015-2016 ASME Foundation Swanson Fellowship. The Fellow would serve at the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (AMNPO) hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
While at the AMNPO, the Fellow will:

  • Strengthen coordination between the National Program Office and other participating organizations, including: industry, universities, state and regional authorities, federal agencies, and stakeholders of NNMI;
  • Provide alternative perspectives to strengthen the impact of advanced manufacturing programs and better leverage government and partner investments across the national landscape;
  • Strengthen the narrative that documents the role and significance of advanced manufacturing among partners, constituents and the public;
  • Engage with professionals at the intersection of advanced manufacturing and public policy to make practical contributions in federal decision-making; and,
  • Strengthen the understanding of federal policy and programs across stakeholder groups in advanced manufacturing.

Additional information on the ASME Foundation Swanson Fellowship is available at http://ppec.asme.org/washington-insider/apply-for-a-2015-2016-asme-federal-government-fellowship-2/



House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) recently sent a second letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy demanding transparency from the agency regarding the costs and benefits of proposed electricity regulations.

“EPA’s sweeping mandate requires a fundamental restructuring of our nation’s energy system; it transforms how electricity is both produced and used,” Chairman Smith wrote. “The broad new authority EPA claims raises critical questions about our ability to meet demand for reliable, affordable electricity.”

However, Chairman Smith wrote that “Systematic biases and major omissions in EPA’s limited evaluation produced a cost-benefit analysis divorced from reality. Consequently, EPA’s Regulatory Impact Assessment fails to assess whether the proposed rule will achieve meaningful benefits and, more importantly, whether the benefits are worth the heavy cost.”

Last week, a report released by NERA Economic Consulting projected that EPA’s proposed regulations will cause double digit electricity price increases in 43 states. It also found that over 15 years, compliance costs could total more than $400 billion.

Chairman Smith’s letter insists that EPA conduct comprehensive energy and economic modeling before moving forward with the rulemaking.

Chairman Smith’s letter may be read at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/environment/



Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced more than $53 million for 40 innovative research and development (R&D) projects that aim to drive down the cost of solar energy, as well as target key aspects of technology development in order to bring new ideas to the market more quickly.  Funded through three related programs, the new initiatives will support the development of next generation photovoltaic (PV) solar technologies and manufacturing processes, and are designed to promote advancements that will help reduce the cost of solar energy:

  • The Energy Department is awarding more than $14 million to 10 research institutions to improve the performance, efficiency, and durability of solar PV devices.
  • Through its SunShot Incubator program, the DOE is investing more than $14 million in 20 small businesses that will develop innovative technologies and services to further drive down hardware and non-hardware costs for solar electric systems.
  • In support of its Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, the DOE is awarding more than $24 million to 10 U.S.-based solar manufacturers working to develop and implement innovative technologies that will reduce costs and increase efficiency in manufacturing processes used to make PV and CSP technologies. 

Additional information, including links to the programs, is available at http://ppec.asme.org/key-issues/energy/



The U.S. will achieve energy independence by 2025, which will mark the first time since 1952 that the U.S. will export more energy than it imports, according to an integrated outlook by Wood Mackenzie’s Global Trends Service.

Wood Mackenzie’s outlook underscores that higher production and lower demand are the forces driving U.S. energy independence.  Over the last seven years, the U.S. has added three million barrels per day of tight oil and 27.5 billion cubic feet per day of shale gas to the global energy mix, a 42 percent increase in U.S. oil and gas production. Meanwhile, oil demand is decreasing primarily due to efficiency gains in the transport sector.

Trends indicate that the uncertainties facing the U.S. energy market fall into two broad categories: those that make it more likely the U.S. will achieve energy independence before 2025, and those that will delay it. The key uncertainties that can speed up US energy independence include a lifting of the U.S. crude oil export ban, higher tight oil production and lower demand in the transportation sector.

While Wood Mackenzie forecasts the U.S. vehicle fleet to become over 40 percent more efficient by 2030, there is still potential for efficiency to improve faster, or for a more pronounced shift to cars away from less efficient light trucks and SUVs.  Any improvement in vehicle efficiency or lower vehicle miles travelled per capita would reduce U.S. oil demand and, consequently, net oil imports.

Furthermore, the three key uncertainties that would stall U.S. energy independence include delays in developing critical export facilities, environmental regulations and energy policies that would encourage more gas to be used in the power sector.

Wood Mackenzie concludes that the investments driving the U.S. towards energy independence will have substantial direct and indirect benefits for the U.S. economy, whereas any direct benefits from energy independence in itself are more muted.  Furthermore, U.S. energy independence will not isolate the U.S. energy markets from international risk but it will change how these risks are considered.

Additional information is available at http://www.woodmac.com/public/industry-views/12525217



The National Science Board (NSB) this week released an interactive, online resource featuring new and updated data and graphics about STEM education and workforce in the U.S. and providing facts on topics such as student proficiency, college degrees in STEM fields, and jobs in science-related occupations.

"The STEM fields are critical to the nation's economic future," said Kelvin Droegemeier, vice chairman of NSB, the governing body of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and advisor to the president and Congress. "Our ability to innovate and compete depends on how well we do in science and technology. The National Science Board developed this one-stop answer center to provide a reliable resource on STEM education and careers."

The resource features 60 central questions, organized by education level and the workforce, with multiple data points, graphs and maps providing the answers to each question. Users can view the latest data, consider trends, easily download both data and graphics and share these data through email and social media. Links to additional analysis are provided for each topic.

"Discussions about STEM education and the workforce are often limited to generalities," said Droegemeier. "This resource is an easy way to find the facts on what's really going on, how we're doing and where we're headed. It's part of the Board's support for STEM education and its commitment to providing high-quality, objective information."

The new resource may be read at http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/new-and-updated-nsf-resource-on-stem-education-workforce/



In filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this week, Southern Company revealed that its Kemper County Missouri carbon capture facility is not expected to come online until as late as the first half of 2016. The filing marks the third time the project has announced potential delays this year.

According to the filing, overall project costs have risen by $3 billion from preliminary estimates, and delays beyond March 2016 could result in additional costs of $20 to $30 million per month. Delays were attributed to time expected to be required for start-up activities and operational readiness, including enhancing the scope of specialized operator training for a first-of-a-kind carbon capture technology.

When finished, the plant will be only the second power plant globally to attempt to capture CO2 at a commercial scale plant. SaskPower’s Boundary Dam plant in Canada, which went online earlier this month, was the first commercial scale carbon capture plant.

Southern Co’s full SEC filing is available at: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/66904/000009212214000064/msmonthlyreport8-k10x14.htm


Visit the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/ for daily news and policy developments, including the following:

  • Green Coalitions Question EPA Ethanol Emissions Model
  • States File Suit Against NRC's Waste Storage Rule
  • Splitting of Nuclear Waste Streams Backed by Energy Department
  • Gaming Out the Possibilities for Replacement of NRC's Macfarlane


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