In this issue:

 

 

34 ENGINEERING SOCIETIES SPONSOR PUBLIC POLICY SYMPOSIUM TO HIGHLIGHT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AND MANUFACTURING

The 2012 Engineering Public Policy Symposium was recently convened in Washington, D.C. to highlight key issues before the Administration and Congress related to “Energy and Research and Development. The annual event brought together over 100 leaders - Presidents, President-Elects and Executive Directors - from 34 national engineering societies, representing more than two million engineers. ASME served as the Chair and lead organizer of the Symposium, which was made possible by a grant from the United Engineering Foundation.

The day long Symposium featured key speakers from the Administration, Congress, and industry, who highlighted their priorities in research and development, energy and manufacturing. ASME President Victoria A. Rockwell provided the opening remarks. Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, served as the event’s keynote speaker, and spoke about the Administration’s strong emphasis on research, particularly for clean energy, advanced manufacturing, and robotics.  This discussion included the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a public-private initiative which was announced by President Obama in 2011.  Dr. Holdren briefly walked through the Administration’s proposed FY 2013 budget request and ended his remarks by urging professional society members and leaders to continue their efforts to enhance awareness on these issues.  

Following Dr. Holdren’s remarks, Under Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Dr. Pat Gallagher provided attendees with some insight into the NIST FY 2013 proposed budget.  The NIST budget again proposes the creation of a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, which will be supported by a mixture of public and private stakeholders and will focus on research related to manufacturing competitiveness. 
Switching to energy research and development, ASME Fellow, Acting Under Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) and the first Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program Dr. Arun Majumdar spoke about various energy initiatives both within ARPA-E as well as DOE-wide.  Some of these initiatives included the DOE Innovation Hubs, which team engineers and scientists together to solve technical issues, as well as the Sunshot Initiative, which seeks to scale down the cost of solar energy to $1 per watt, or roughly 5-6 cents per kilowatt-hour. 

ASME President Victoria Rockwell and IEEE-USA President-Elect Marc Apter then presented awards to the Honorable Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Honorable Rush Holt (D-NJ), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Research and Development (R&D) Caucus in recognition of their “leadership and commitment in developing sound science, engineering and technology policies” and “support for research and education that promote U.S. technological leadership and economic prosperity.” Rep. Biggert and Rep. Holt thanked the leaders of the 34 engineering societies that were listed on the awards and encouraged them to continue their efforts to promote research and development.

Dr. Kesh Narayanan, Deputy Assistant Director for the Directorate for Engineering (ENG) at the National Science Foundation, concluded the program by providing a detailed overview of the NSF’s FY 2013, emphasizing OneNSF, which centers around investments involving ENG and one or more partnerships, such as directorates, offices, other federal agencies, and private industry. 

Following the conclusion of the Symposium, outreach to congressional leaders continued as attendees met with their congressional representatives in the House and Senate to discuss science and engineering budget priorities, and urge sustained federal funding to support research and development.

Robert Rains covers public policy-related Energy issues for ASME.  He can be reached at rainsr@asme.org

Paul Fakes covers public policy-related Research and Development issues for ASME. He can be reached at: fakesp@asme.org

 

 

HOUSE AND SENATE APPROVE CJS APPROPRIATIONS BILL

In an election year when lawmakers wearily begin eyeing the exits of the Capitol for their home districts to campaign, expectations are not especially high for Congress to enact a federal budget in time for the start of the new fiscal year on October 1,2012.  This week, however, both the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees approved the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) and Related Agencies appropriations bills that will be reconciled in a Conference Committee later this year.

The House CJS bill includes: 

  • $7.3 billion for the National Science Foundation, an increase of $299 million, or 4.3% above FY12 for basic research and science education.  This level is $41 million shy of the President’s FY 2013 request for the NSF.
  • $830 million to support the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), $80.8 million more than the FY 2012 appropriated amount but $27 million less than the Administration’s FY 2013 request.  The House bill includes $128 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, and $21 million for an Advanced Manufacturing competitive research program (AMTech), matching the President’s request.
  • $17.6 billion to support the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) $226 million below fiscal year 2012 and $138 million below the President’s request.  This funding includes $569.9 million for NASA’s Aeronautics Research programs, half a million over the FY 2012 amount and $18.4 million over the President’s request, and $5.1 billion for the Space Science programs, $5 million over the FY 2012 level and $189 million over the President’s request.  The bill also includes $632.5 million for Space Technology programs, $66.5 million under the President’s request but $84.5 million over the FY 2012 level.   

The Senate CJS bill includes: 

  • $7.3 billion for the NSF, an increase of $240 million above the fiscal year 2012 enacted level but $59 million less than the level provided by the House of Representatives and $100 million under the President’s request. 
  • $826 million for NIST, which is $75 million above the FY 2012 enacted level but $4 million less than the House level and $31 million under the President’s request. The bill provides an increase of $56 million for NIST’s laboratories and technical research, $128.5 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, and $14.5 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech), $6.5 million under the House level and the President’s request.
  • $19.4 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an increase of $1.6 billion over the fiscal year 2012 enacted level and $2.2 billion over the President’s request. The Senate included just over $5 billion for NASA’s Space Science programs, $74 million less than the House level and $53 million less than the FY 2012 amount, but $110 million over the President’s request.  The bill includes $551.5 million for NASA Aeronautics programs, consistent with the President’s request but 18.4 million less than the House level.  The Senate provided $651 million for Space Technology programs, $48 million below the President’s request and $18.5 million more than the House level. 

With respect to the large funding difference between the House and Senate in overall topline funding, the Senate CJS Subcommittee noted “The large increase (for NASA overall) results from a reorganization of operational weather satellite procurement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) into NASA. Without the funds for weather satellite procurement, this level represents a $41.5 million cut from the fiscal year 2012 enacted level”.  The House took no action to shift satellite funding out of the NOAA; without the extra satellite funding, the Senate budget for NASA would still come in at roughly $600 million over both the House level and the President’s request. 

Paul Fakes covers public policy-related Research and Development issues for ASME. He can be reached at: fakesp@asme.org

 

 

HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS MARKS UP ENERGY & WATER BILL

On the cusp of summer driving season and with the nomination of Under Secretary of Energy and Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), Arun Majumdar, still idling in the Senate, House Appropriators were busy this week completing an Energy and Water (E&W) Appropriations markup that contains funding for the Department of Energy (DOE). 

Highlights from the markup include:

  • $4.8 billion to support the Office of Science, roughly flat compared to the fiscal year (FY) 2012 appropriated amount and $168 million less than the Administration’s FY 2013 request;
  • $765 million for the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy, which is $93 million less than the FY 2012 appropriated amount and $5 million less than the FY 2013 request;
  • $554 million to support the Office of Fossil Energy, which is $10 million less than the FY 2012 appropriated amount and $96 million less than the Administration’s FY 2013 request;
  • $200 million to support ARPA-E, which is $80 million less than the FY 2012 appropriated amount and $150 million less than the Administration’s FY 2013 request; and
  • $123 million to support the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, which is $16 million less than the FY 2012 appropriated amount and $20 million less than the Administration’s FY 2013 budget request.    

The Senate Appropriations E&W bill has not been marked up yet. 

To review the text of the House E&W Appropriations bill, please visit: http://appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/BILLS-112HR-SC-AP-FY13-EnergyWater.pdf

Robert Rains handles public policy-related energy issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: rainsr@asme.org  

 

 

PRESIDENT ESTABLISHES INTERAGENCY WORKING GROUP TO SUPPORT SAFE AND RESPONSIBLE DEVELOPMENT OF UNCONVENTIONAL DOMESTIC NATURAL GAS RESOURCES

On April 13th, President Obama announced the formation of a new interagency working group to promote the safe development of domestic natural gas. The Interagency Working Group to Support Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources (Working Group) will be chaired by the Director of the Domestic Policy Council. In addition to the Chair, the Working Group shall include deputy-level representatives or equivalent officials from: the Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Energy and Homeland Security; Environmental Protection Agency; Council on Environmental Quality; Office of Science and Technology Policy; Office of Management and Budget; and, National Economic Council.

The Working Group will support the safe and responsible production of domestic unconventional natural gas by:

  • Coordinating agency policy activities, ensuring their efficient and effective operation and facilitating cooperation among agencies;
  • Coordinating among agencies the sharing of scientific, environmental, and related technical and economic information;
  • Engaging in long-term planning and ensure coordination among the appropriate Federal entities with respect to such issues as research, natural resource assessment, and the development of infrastructure;
  • Promote interagency communication with stakeholders; and,
  • Consulting with other agencies and offices as appropriate.

To review the Executive Order, go to: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/04/13/executive-order-supporting-safe-and-responsible-development-unconvention

To read a White House blog posting about the Executive Order, visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/04/13/facilitating-safe-and-responsible-expansion-natural-gas-production

A related article on how the Departments of Energy and Interior, along with the Environmental Protection Agency plan to work in partnership to support this Executive Order, can be found at: http://www.doe.gov/articles/obama-administration-announces-new-partnership-unconventional-natural-gas-and-oil-research

Robert Rains handles public policy-related energy issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: rainsr@asme.org

 

 

EPA ISSUES UPDATED AIR POLLUTION STANDARDS FOR OIL AND NATURAL GAS

In response to a court deadline, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized standards to reduce air pollution associated with oil and natural gas production. The updated standards, authorized under the Clean Air Act (P.L. 101-549), are seeking to reduce implementation costs while also ensuring that the new standards are achievable and can be met by relying on proven, cost-effective technologies, as well as processes already in use in the U.S.

When natural gas is produced, some of the gas escapes the well and may not be captured by the producing company. These gases can pollute the air and as a result threaten public health. Consistent with states that have already put in place similar requirements, the updated EPA standards released today include the first federal air rules for natural gas wells that are hydraulically fractured, specifically requiring operators of new fractured natural gas wells to use cost-effective technologies and practices to capture natural gas that might otherwise escape the well, which can subsequently be sold.

Based on new data provided during the public comment period, the final rule establishes a phase-in period that will seek to ensure emissions reduction technology is broadly available. During the first phase, before January 2015, owners and operators must either flare their emissions or use emissions reduction technology called “green completions,” technologies that are already widely deployed at wells. In 2015, all new fractured wells will be required to use green completions. The final rule does not require new federal permits. Instead, it sets clear standards and uses enhanced reporting to strengthen transparency and accountability, and ensure compliance, while establishing a consistent set of national standards to safeguard public health and the environment.

EPA has come under fire by lawmakers in the last year that remain concerned that the EPA’s regulatory authority is undermining the country’s nascent economic recovery.  Late last month, the EPA also announced new power plant emissions rules, following a rollback of the air toxics rule earlier this year (Please see April 2, 2012 Edition of Capitol Update). 

The entire 588-page new rule may be viewed at: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/pdfs/20120417finalrule.pdf

Additional information is available at: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/oilandgas/

Robert Rains handles public policy-related environmental issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: rainsr@asme.org

 

 

DOE ANNOUNCES SELECTIONS FOR U.S.-INDIA JOINT CLEAN ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the selections for three consortia that will make up the $125 million U.S.-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (JCERDC). These consortia – led in the U.S. by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the University of Florida, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) – will bring together experts from national laboratories, universities, and industry in both the U.S. and India. The three lead U.S. institutions have partnered with three lead Indian institutions:  the Indian Institute of Science-Bangalore; the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology-Hyderabad; and, CEPT University-Ahmedabad.

The Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center is part of the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy. As two of the world’s largest economies, the United States and India have a special role to play in addressing global energy and environmental sustainability challenges.

As part of a planned five-year initiative, the Energy Department will make $5 million available in fiscal year 2012. The Department plans to make additional requests to Congress for up to $20 million over the next four years, subject to available appropriations, that will be used to support work conducted by U.S. institutions and individuals. The Indian Government also committed to funding $25 million over five years that will be used to support work by Indian institutions and individuals. In addition, U.S. and Indian consortia members have pledged over $75 million in matching funds, for a combined funding total of more than $125 million for joint research and development in solar energy, advanced biofuels, and building energy efficiency.

For details on the three winning consortia – solar energy, second generation biofuels and energy efficiency of buildings -- go to http://www.doe.gov/articles/energy-department-announces-selections-us-india-joint-clean-energy-research-and-development

Robert Rains handles public policy-related energy issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: rainsr@asme.org

 

 

US LEADS GLOBAL INVESTMENT IN CLEAN ENERGY IN 2011: REPORT

According to a recent report prepared by the Pew Charitable Trusts, “Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?,” the U.S. has reclaimed the global top spot from China for total clean energy investments for the first time since 2009. The report examines how nations are faring in the increasingly stiff competition for private investment among the world’s leading economies. Investment in G-20 countries accounted for more than 95 percent of the global total.

Among renewable technologies, solar increased globally by 44 percent, attracting $128 billion and accounting for more than half of all clean energy investment among members of the G-20. Dramatic price declines, i.e. the cost of solar modules dropping by half in the past 12 months, fueled the activity. Wind prices also fell in 2011.

The combination of falling prices and growing investments accelerated the installation of clean energy generating capacity by a record 83.5 gigawatts (GW) in 2011. Almost 30 GW of new solar and 43 GW of wind power were deployed. Renewable power generating capacity, at 565 GW globally was nearly 50 percent more than installed nuclear generating capacity in 2010.

China attracted $45.5 billion in clean energy investment, which spurred deployment of 20 GW of wind power and is the most of any nation. Germany ranked third among the G-20 with $30.6 billion and 7.4 GW of solar power installed.

Italy received $28 billion in clean energy financing last year, an increase of 38.4 percent from 2010 and enabling deployment of a record of nearly 8 GW of solar generating capacity. Over the last five years, no G-20 country has experienced higher growth rates than Italy, which led the world with investment levels relative to the size of its economy.

India’s clean energy sector continued to flourish in 2011, with investment up 54 percent to $10.2 billion. India’s “National Solar Mission,” with a goal of 20 GW of power installed by 2020, helped drive the sevenfold jump in this type of energy to $4.2 billion. Wind received $4.6 billion, and an additional 2.8 GW of capacity was installed during the year.

The entire 56-page report is available at:  http://www.pewtrusts.org//uploadedFiles/wwwpewtrustsorg/Reports/Clean_Energy/Clean%20Energy%20Race%20Report%202012.pdf

Robert Rains handles public policy-related energy issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: rainsr@asme.org

 

 

ONLINE TOOL HELPS ASSESS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AWARENESS

A new online tool can help small companies and entrepreneurs evaluate their awareness of intellectual property (IP), trade secrets, company data and more, and learn how to protect it. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) teamed up to create the IP Awareness Assessment, available at no charge at: www.uspto.gov/inventors/assessment/

Intellectual property is a key concern of small businesses owners, who can secure significant competitive advantages by exercising the rights they hold to their innovations. However, many individuals are often unaware of their rights and miss the opportunities they can provide.

“Understanding and protecting IP is an important step along the path of bringing innovations to the marketplace,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. “We hope this tool will help companies and individuals better navigate the process and become more competitive.”

The full assessment comprises questions on five IP protection categories: utility patents; trademarks; copyrights; trade secrets; and, design patents. Five general IP categories are also covered: IP strategies and best practices; using technology of others; licensing technology to others; international IP rights; and, IP asset tracking. The questions presented in each category have been designed to discover the participant’s overall IP awareness.

“This Administration is committed to supporting innovative business tools, which help drive U.S. technological leadership worldwide and support a 21st century economy that is built to last,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “The IP Awareness Assessment Tool will help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality and bring them to market faster, thereby creating jobs more quickly, too.”

Robert Rains handles public policy-related standards issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: rainsr@asme.org

 

THE ARTICLES CONTAINED IN CAPITOL UPDATE ARE NOT POSITIONS OF ASME OR ANY OF ITS SUB-ENTITIES, UNLESS SPECIFICALLY NOTED AS SUCH. THIS PUBLICATION IS DESIGNED TO INFORM ASME MEMBERS ABOUT ISSUES OF CONCERN BEING DEBATED AND DISCUSSED IN THE HALLS OF CONGRESS, IN THE STATES, AND IN THE FEDERAL AGENCIES.

EDITOR: Mary James Legatski, ASME Government Relations, 1828 L Street, NW, Suite 810, Washington, DC 20036-5104.