September 22, 2017
Capitol Update

In this issue:


SENATE COMMITTEE VOTES TO INCREASE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH FUNDING FOR FY 2018

The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved by a vote of 29-2 a bipartisan bill providing $35.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in FY 2018, a $1.1 billion increase above the FY 2017 enacted level and $8.5 billion above the Trump administration’s requested level.

These increases build on investments made last year in biomedical research, including a $2.0 billion increase in FY 2017 appropriations and additional funding from the 21st Century Cures Act. Within the total FY 2018 increase, the Committee provided an increase of $80 million to the Precision Medicine Initiative, which holds the promise of designing personalized, targeted cures and treatments. The Committee also included an increase of $400 million to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and an increase of $76 million for the BRAIN Initiative to help better understand how the brain functions and learns.

The Appropriations Committees in both chambers have decried the Trump administration’s request to cut payments to universities for the overhead costs of research financed by the health institutes. These costs include the costs of utilities, internet service, data storage, the construction and upkeep of laboratories, and compliance with federal rules protecting human subjects of clinical research. In addition, the House and Senate bills explicitly prohibit the Trump administration from changing the formula used for decades to calculate and pay indirect costs.

However, since the full House and Senate have yet to come to a mutual agreement on each of the 12 appropriations bills and because Congress and the President agreed that the federal government should not go into shutdown at the end of FY 2017, a temporary government funding measure also known as a continuing resolution, was passed by both chambers and signed into law by President Trump to keep the government operating at existing FY 2017 levels until December 8. As a result, NIH will continue to be funded at the FY 2017 levels. This stopgap measure will provide additional time for the President and Congress to negotiate a deal to facilitate passage of the final FY 2018 appropriations package.

For status of the FY 2018 appropriations bills, visit www.congress.gov and click on Appropriations on the top right of the home page.


WHITE HOUSE NOMINATES NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY DIRECTOR

The White House issued notice this week of its nominee for Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Dr. Walter Copan.

Dr. Copan is currently President and CEO of IP Engineering Group Corporation, and board member of Rocky Mountain Innovation Partners, a firm which supports federal labs, academic institutions, and entrepreneurial businesses. He has also served as Managing Director of Technology Commercialization and Partnerships at NIST’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, and as Managing Director of Technology Transfer at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

In a recent interview about his vision for NIST, Dr. Copan stated that he is a firm believer in the mission of NIST and its importance to the nation in the area of establishing standards, which is an enabler to U.S. economic growth. He stated that NIST provides unbiased information to industry, to stakeholders, and to standards organizations and that he has a special interest in NIST’s technology transfer-related responsibilities.

            

Dr. Copan earned dual undergraduate degrees, and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Case Western Reserve University. He has served as board member and advisor to many organizations, including the Federal Laboratory Consortium. Among his entrepreneurial ventures was Clean Diesel Technologies, Inc. (CDTi) which he led as Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President onto NASDAQ.  During his 28 years with Lubrizol Corporation, he held top leadership positions including research, development, and business unit management.

Please visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/09/12/president-donald-j-trump-announces-intent-nominate-personnel-key to see the full White House announcement.


SENATE ENERGY SUBCOMMITTEE EXAMINES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NATIONAL LABORATORIES

Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy, recently held a hearing to take a more in-depth look at how the 17 Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories serve as a catalyst for innovation in the U. S. economy. In opening statements, Chairman Gardner and Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV) praised the work of the national labs, including work in energy systems from nuclear, wind, solar, fossil fuels, and how other countries are trying to replicate them.

There were four witnesses at the hearing, including Dr. Brian Anderson, Director of the WVU Energy Institute at West Virginia University, who testified to how the WVU Energy Institute is the central organization on the West Virginia University campus with a mission to coordinate cross- and multi-disciplinary research across all 14 schools and colleges in energy as well as working with the state of West Virginia to stimulate economic development while utilizing energy resources responsibly. The WVU Energy Institute has 167 affiliate faculty members, who bring together many different areas of research in the university.

Dr. Anderson also provided some examples of WVU Energy Institute’s significant projects like the Marcellus Shale Energy Environment Laboratory (MSEEL). The project is funded by the Energy Department’s Fossil Energy Program, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory is an active research partner.

Another witness, Ms. Anuja Ratnayake, Director of Emerging Technology Strategy at Duke Energy, testified on the challenges faced by vertically integrated utilities that operate within a regulatory model that prioritizes low costs for customers and the use of reliable technologies. This creates less incentive to conduct research and development (R&D) due to the inherent risks associated with new technologies and the higher costs that would have to be passed on to customers. This in turn limits the private sector’s incentives to test new technologies and operational methods, so the national laboratories and programs such as ARPA-E serve such a vital role for the power sector. Many utilities rely on universities, product manufacturers, consortia, and the federal government to pursue innovation that benefits customers which no single private sector company could do alone.

To download the testimony and watch the full hearing, please visit: https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings-and-business-meetings?ID=92F81B1A-9E46-4C08-AE08-A8AE96EBAF26


ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION PROJECTS STRONG GROWTH IN RENEWABLES

According to the Energy Information Administration’s recently released International Energy Outlook 2017 report, renewable energy will make up nearly a third of the world's electricity generation output by 2040, putting it on equal footing with coal power.

On the same day of the release, Dr. Ian Mead, Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Office of Energy Analysis gave a presentation on the report at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Dr. Mead presented on EIA's perspective on long-term petroleum and other liquids fuel supplies and demands, prospects for global natural gas markets, regional energy demand growth, carbon dioxide emissions, and uncertainties that could impact long-term projections. According to the report, solar, wind and other renewable energy sources will grow at the fastest pace over the next 22 years and reach 31 percent of all power generation while electricity generation through coal will drop to 31 percent of total power generation, down from 40 percent in 2015.

Most of the world’s energy growth will occur in countries outside of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with non-OECD Asia (including China and India) alone accounting for more than half of the world’s total increase in energy consumption over the 2015 to 2040 projection period.

To download the EIA International Outlook 2017 report, please visit: https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/ieo/


DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY SEEKS INPUT ON NET ENERGY METERING COSTS

The Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis within the Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a request for information as part of its Grid Modernization Initiative study of the cost and benefits of net metering to utilities, ratepayers, and the electrical grid. DOE is seeking stakeholder input on existing studies (2012-present) on assessing the costs and benefits of net metering and the availability of data that can be used in conducting such studies. DOE expects to use this input to help inform its forthcoming report to Congress.

Public comments are due on or before October 30, 2017 and should be identified by docket number EERE-2017-OT-0056.

To download the full announcement, please visit:
https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2017-19647.pdf


CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATH AND COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATION: PREPARING THE 21ST CENTURY WORKFORCE

During a recent House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology hearing, there was a focus on the importance of science, technology, education and math (STEM) and computer science education to meet current and future workforce needs. In addition, the hearing shed light on the various initiatives taking place across the nation to educate and inspire and engage students in these important fields.

The first witness was James Brown, Executive Director, STEM Education Coalition, of which ASME serves as the engineering co-chair. He said that Congress must elevate STEM education as national policy priority through education reforms, policies to drive innovation, and budgetary priorities. States are also making important decisions on STEM education. When the 2015 federal law Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) finally goes into full effect over the next year, an array of key decisions affecting teaching and learning will revert back into the hands of states and districts.  Under ESSA schools are explicitly permitted to use federal dollars in a wide variety of new ways to support STEM activities.

Another witness Dee Mooney, Executive Director of the Micron Technology Foundation, testified that there is a lack of available talent with the requisite skills and experience to fill jobs in business intelligence, data science, data engineering, information security, and cybersecurity. To support STEM, the Micron Technology Foundation has contributed $88 million to improve access to STEM education. In area schools and communities, it has provided public schools with robotics programs, engineering camps, teacher grants, invention programs, scholarships and more. The Foundation has also partnered with Virginia universities to support student engineering projects, professor research, and state-of-the-art facilities.

The archived hearing and testimony are available at: https://science.house.gov/legislation/hearings/research-and-technology-subcommittee-hearing-stem-and-computer-science

Visit the ASME Public Policy Education Center at http://ppec.asme.org/ for daily news and policy developments, including the following:
Apply for a 2018 –2019 ASME Congressional Fellowship!
http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/apply-for-a-2018-2019-asme-congressional-fellowship/
Department of Transportation Rolls Out New Guidelines for Self-Driving Cars
http://ppec.asme.org/home/department-of-transportation-rolls-out-new-guidelines-for-self-driving-cars/
Nominations Being Accepted for First-Ever Manufacturing USA Awards
http://ppec.asme.org/home/nominations-being-accepted-for-first-ever-manufacturing-usa-awards/
Department of Energy Awards $50M in Critical Energy Security Research Grants
http://ppec.asme.org/latest-news/energy-news/doe-awards-50m-in-critical-energy-security-research-grants/

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