In this issue:

 

NEW ANALYSIS DETAILS RECOVERY ACT IMPACT ON INNOVATION
A new report from the Obama Administration makes the case that last year's $787 billion stimulus package is helping to transform the U.S. economy by fostering more innovation.  The report, "The Recovery Act: Transforming the American Economy through Innovation," concluded that the Recovery Act is investing $100 billion in science, technology and innovation projects across the country ranging from building a nationwide smart energy grid and health information technology infrastructure to growing the emerging electric vehicle industry, expanding broadband access and laying the groundwork for a nationwide high speed rail system.

According to the analysis, the U.S. is on track to achieve four major innovation breakthroughs that will help keep the nation competitive in the 21st century economy:

  • Cutting the cost of solar power in half by 2015, putting it on par with the cost of retail electricity from the grid;
  • Cutting the cost of batteries for electric vehicles by 70 percent between 2009 and 2015, putting the lifetime cost of an electric vehicle on-par with that of its non-electric counterpart;
  • Doubling U.S. renewable energy generation capacity and U.S. renewable manufacturing capacity by 2012; and,
  • Bringing the cost of a personal human genome map to under $1,000 in five years, allowing researchers to sequence 50 human genomes for the same cost as sequencing just one today.

As reported in the February 20, 2010 Edition of Capitol Update, ARRA provided:

  • $3 billion for the National Science Foundation, for basic research in fundamental science and engineering - which spurs discovery and innovation;
  • $1.6 billion for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, which funds research in such areas as climate science, biofuels, high-energy physics, nuclear physics and fusion energy sciences - areas crucial to our energy future;
  • $400 million for the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to support high-risk, high-payoff research into energy sources and energy efficiency in collaboration with industry;
  • $580 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, including the Technology Innovation Program and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership; and
  • $1 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), including $400 million to put more scientists to work doing climate change research.

To read the press release and fact sheet summarizing the new analysis, please visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/08/24/vice-president-biden-releases-report-recovery-act-impact-innovation.

The entire 50-page report is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/uploads/Recovery_Act_Innovation.pdf

Paul Fakes handles public policy-related research and development (R&D) issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: fakesp@asme.org

 

 

KERRY INTRODUCES CLEAN ENERGY LEADERSHIP BILL
Senator John Kerry (D-MA) recently introduced legislation to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and promote clean energy production and technology across the country. The "Clean Energy Technology Leadership Act of 2010" (S. 3738) would provide tax incentives for clean energy manufacturing, renewable energy, and conservation.

"While we continue the fight to bring comprehensive energy legislation to the floor of the United States Senate, it's essential that we take action to start moving in the right direction," said Sen. Kerry.  "Providing incentives for clean energy production will drive our economy forward and take us one step closer to reducing our carbon emissions and ending our dependence on foreign oil."

Among the key provisions of the "Clean Energy Technology Leadership Act of 2010" are the following:

  • Provides additional funding for the advanced energy manufacturing credit and uncap the credit for solar energy property, fuel cell power plans, and advanced energy storage systems, including batteries for advanced vehicles;
  • Extends and modifies tax incentives for new energy efficient homes, non-business energy property improvements, and energy efficient commercial buildings;
  • Encourages clean transportation by providing incentives for natural gas heavy vehicles;
  • Extends the excise tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel retroactively for 2010 and through 2012;
  • Modifies the cellulosic biofuel tax credit to include algae based fuels;
  • Extends the credit for domestic manufacturers of energy appliances;
  • Provides an additional $3.5 billion for clean renewable energy bonds; and,
  • Extends the research and development tax credit retroactively for 2010 and through 2012 and provides an additional 10 percent credit for qualified advanced energy research expenditures.

Sen. Kerry has been particularly active on the issues of energy and climate change in the 111th Session of Congress.  Earlier this year, Sen. Kerry introduced the "American Power Act," with colleague Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), as part of a legislative effort in the upper chamber to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation in the waning calendar for Congress this year.  The main goal of the bill is to reduce carbon emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and over 80 percent by midcentury.  This legislation suffered a serious setback when one of its negotiators, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), abandoned negotiations earlier this year.  The probability of this legislation being adopted dropped even further last month when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) signaled to his colleagues that he would only like to pursue legislation addressing the recent Gulf oil spill.

When lawmakers return to Washington after the August recess, they will be facing a host of issues, including the federal budget, which they will need to address.  With a number of competing priorities, it is unlikely that substantial energy policy legislation will be adopted in the waning months of the 111th Session of Congress.

More information about the "American Power Act" can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/economics/economicanalyses.html

To review S. 3738, please visit the Library of Congress web site: http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search by bill number.

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

 

 

DOE CONSIDERS NEXT STEPS FOR FUTUREGEN 2.0
The Department of Energy (DOE) recently convened a meeting to discuss the next steps for the FutureGen 2.0 carbon capture and storage project in Illinois. The project remains on track for obligation before the end of September.  Preparations will then begin for the repowering of Unit 4 at the Ameren facility in Meredosia, with construction set to begin in 2012. At the same time, following DOE best practices, a site selection process will be conducted to locate a site for the carbon sequestration research, repowering workforce training facility, visitor center, and long-term CO2 repository.

"We are encouraged by the response we've received from interested communities so far and look forward to working with the project team as they select a new sequestration center over the coming months," said James Markowsky, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy at DOE. "The lessons learned from this project will help to advance pollution reduction and carbon capture and storage from existing coal fired power plants in the U.S and around the world."

As reported in the February 1, 2008 Edition of Capitol Update, the DOE originally committed to funding 74 percent of the project's cost, which was $950 million when it was first announced to go online in 2015. However, project estimates rose to $2 billion and, due to cost concerns, the DOE abandoned the project in favor of smaller sequestration demonstrations at existing power plants.  The original site for the 275-MegaWatt Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plant was for Mattoon, Ill.  FutureGen is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Energy Department and the FutureGen Industrial Alliance, Inc., a non-profit consortium of twelve American and international energy companies.

Communities that are interested in being considered as a storage site are encouraged to contact DOE at futuregen2.0@hq.doe.gov.  The eventual site will need strong geological characteristics, access to acreage pipeline right of ways and subsurface rights on ten square miles of contiguous acreage for sequestration, clear community support, and should be within approximately a 100 mile radius of Meredosia.

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

 

 

DOE OFFERS ROADMAP FOR ALGAE FUEL
Recently, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Biomass Program weighed in on the issue of introducing new technologies for biofuels, algae, as a means for satisfying the requirements of the "Energy Independence and security Act" of 2007 (P.L. 110-140).  This law requires the production of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022, 21 billion of which are mandated to come from cellulosic ethanol (for more information, please see December 7th, 2007 Edition of Capitol Update).  According to the report, the framework for National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap was constructed at the Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap Workshop, held December 9-10, 2008, at the University of Maryland-College Park. The Workshop was organized by the Biomass Program to discuss and identify the critical challenges currently hindering the development of a domestic, commercial-scale algal biofuels industry.  Over 200 industry stakeholders participated in the formation of the report.

Among the advantages identified in the report attributable to algal feedstocks were:

  • High Area productivity;
  • Minimizes competition with conventional agriculture; Utilizes a wide variety of water resources;
  • Recycles stationary emissions of carbon dioxide; and
  • Compatible with integrated production of fuels and co-products within biorefineries.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5) also contained $800 million for the DOE for biodiesel technology, including the Biomass program (for more information on the Recovery Act please see February 20, 2010 Edition of Capitol Update.)  The report was issued earlier this summer and recently the DOE announced issuance of $24 million in grants to study algae biofuels.  This is not the first time that DOE has looked into biomass.  From 1978 until 1996, the DOE Aquatic Species Program invested $25 million into hydrogen and, later, biodiesel research.

Today's political environment may preclude similar efforts as Congress has been marred in an internecine struggle regarding the adoption of a comprehensive energy and climate change policy proposal, which has, in turn, generated some discussion about expanding the biofuels blenders' tax credit, which expires at the end of this year for corn-based ethanol but it settled for another year for cellulosic ethanol.

To read the full report from the DOE EERE Biomass program please click here http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/pdfs/algal_biofuels_roadmap.pdf

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

 

 

NINE STATES AND D.C. AWARDED SECOND ROUND OF RACE TO THE TOP GRANTS
On August 24th, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that nine states and the District of Columbia were winners of second round of grants in the Race to the Top competition.  In alphabetical order, the nine states are: Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

As mentioned in the April 2nd edition of Capitol Update, "the $4.35 billion Race to the Top state competition is designed to reward states that are leading the way in comprehensive, coherent, statewide education reform across four key areas:

  • Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace;
  • Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals how to improve instruction;
  • Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and,
  • Turning around their lowest-performing schools."

While these ten were ranked the highest scoring, few points separated them from the other applications. In fact, the number of "winners" was determined by the quality of applications and funds available.  In describing the outcome, Secretary Duncan said, "We had many more competitive applications than money to fund them in this round.  We're very hopeful there will be a Phase 3 of Race to the Top and have requested $1.35 billion dollars in next year's budget. In the meantime, we will partner with each and every state that applied to help them find ways to carry out the bold reforms they've proposed in their applications."

Overall, forty-six states and the District of Columbia applied to Phase 1 and 2 of the Race to the Top competition.  With the aforementioned winners and the two first round winners, Tennessee and Delaware, the Race to the Top grants should impact 13.6 million students and 980,000 teachers in 25,000 schools.

For more information about this recent announcement, please visit: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/nine-states-and-district-columbia-win-second-round-race-top-grants

Additional information about the Race to the Top competition, including the winning applications, can be found at: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html

Melissa Carl handles public policy-related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce issues for ASME.  She can be reached at: carlm@asme.org *

 

 

NASA TO CONVENE GREEN AVIATION SUMMIT
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will hold a Green Aviation Summit next month to highlight its work to develop environmentally responsible aviation technologies. The two-day meeting at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., will bring together experts from NASA, other federal government organizations, industry and academia to discuss groundbreaking solutions that NASA and its research partners are developing to reduce aircraft noise, emissions and fuel consumption, and to ensure the safe and manageable growth of the aviation system.

This two-day event will also offer an opportunity for exchanges of concepts and ideas with some of the key stakeholders in green aviation. The workshop will feature detailed technical presentations and panel discussions on the current state of the art and the direction for near- and far-term research and development. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will address the participants on September 8th.

The agenda for the two-day summit may be viewed at: http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov/calendar/green_summit_agenda.htm.

To register for the event, please visit: http://www.simlabs.arc.nasa.gov/greenaviation/registration_form.php

Paul Fakes handles public policy-related research and development (R&D) issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: fakesp@asme.org

 

 

EPA ANNOUNCES INTERNATIONAL PRIORITIES
During a meeting of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation in Guanajuato, Mexico, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced the agency's international priorities.  The Commission for Environmental Cooperation was created by the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation under the North American Free Trade Agreement. The group of U.S., Canadian, and Mexican environmental leaders gathered recently to discuss the commission's strategic plan and establish priority projects for the next five years.

"Pollution doesn't stop at international borders, and neither can our environmental and health protections. The local and national environmental issues of the past are now global challenges," Jackson said. "This document sends a strong message to our partners in the international community that our challenges are shared challenges, and that we are eager to work together on solutions. Along with the seven EPA priorities I issued earlier this year, these six international priorities will guide our work during the months and years ahead."

The six international priorities are:

  • Building strong environmental institutions and legal structures;
  • Combating climate change by limiting pollutants;
  • Improving air quality;
  • Expanding access to clean water;
  • Reducing exposure to toxic chemicals; and,
  • Cleaning up e-waste.

For more detailed information on EPA's international priorities, go to: http://www.epa.gov/international/topsix.html.

The text of Administrator Jackson's speech is also available at: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/12a744ff56dbff8585257590004750b6/04fb75c64066cd8c85257782005b2782

Robert Rains handles public policy-related energy 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 906, Washington, DC 20036-5104.