In this issue:

 

 

ADVANCE YOUR CAREER AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE!  APPLY FOR AN ASME FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FELLOWSHIP!
ASME is currently accepting applications for participation in its Federal Government Fellowship Program through which ASME members provide engineering and technical expertise to policy-makers in Congress (Congressional Fellowships) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (ASME Foundation “Swanson” Fellowship). Federal Fellows provide a valuable public service to the nation while at the same time providing engineers with a unique opportunity to participate directly in the public policy making process.

Persons interested in serving as a 2011-2012 Congressional Fellow would spend one year in Washington, DC working with the staff of a congressional committee, U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative. Congressional Fellowships are designed to demonstrate the value of engineering-government interaction, bring technical backgrounds and external perspectives to the decision making process in Congress and provide a unique public policy learning experience to the Fellow. Because of the limited number of Congressional Fellowships available, the process is very competitive. The following credentials are encouraged: at least five years of professional experience; an advanced engineering degree; professional engineer registration; and, some public policy experience.

The ASME Foundation “Swanson” Fellowship was established in 2010 in recognition of Dr. John A. Swanson, an internationally recognized authority and innovator in the application of finite element methods to engineering. The Swanson Fellowship provides a unique opportunity for an experienced engineer to serve as a Federal Fellow in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), where her/his broad, multi-disciplinary background would be applied to finding solutions to technical issues. The Swanson Fellow will confer with public policy professionals to make practical contributions on the most effective use of engineering in federal decision making.  Swanson Fellow applicants should be established engineering researchers/practitioners with an advanced degree in engineering plus approximately ten years of R&D product development experience in an academic setting or in industry. Entrepreneurial experience, R&D commercialization and some understanding of working with federal agencies are also desirable.

ASME Fellows will be awarded a stipend of $60,000 for the one year Fellowship.

ASME Federal Fellows typically serve from September through August, but a January through December term is sometimes an option. Applications are accepted annually from December 1st through March 31st. All Fellows must be US citizens and ASME members at the time of application.

To apply for the Congressional Fellowship or the Swanson Fellowship, fill out the online application at https://secure.asme.org/fedgovfellows/appform.cfm and provide the requested materials. The application deadline is March 31, 2011.
 
For additional information about the ASME Federal Government Fellowship Program or contact Kathryn Holmes, Director, ASME Government Relations, at holmesk@asme.org or 202-785-7390.

 

 

NATIONAL OIL SPILL COMMISSION ISSUES FINAL REPORT ON THE BP DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL
Following the explosion that tore through the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig last April 20th, President Barack Obama announced the creation of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, an independent, non-partisan entity directed to provide a thorough analysis and impartial judgment of the disaster. The President charged the Commission to determine the causes of the disaster, and to improve the country’s ability to respond to spills, and to recommend reforms to make offshore energy production safer.

On January 11th, the Commission issued its final report, which included
the following findings:

  • The explosive loss of the Macondo well could have been prevented.
  • The immediate causes of the Macondo well blowout can be traced to a series of identifiable mistakes made by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean that reveal such systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry.
  • Deepwater energy exploration and production, particularly at the frontiers of experience, involve risks for which neither industry nor government has been adequately prepared, but for which they can and must be prepared in the future.
  • To assure human safety and environmental protection, regulatory oversight of leasing, energy exploration, and production require reforms even beyond those significant reforms already initiated since the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Fundamental reform will be needed in both the structure of those in charge of regulatory oversight and their internal decision-making process to ensure their political autonomy, technical expertise, and their full consideration of environmental protection concerns.
  • Because regulatory oversight alone will not be sufficient to ensure adequate safety, the oil and gas industry will need to take its own, unilateral steps to increase dramatically safety throughout the industry, including self-policing mechanisms that supplement governmental enforcement.
  • The technology, laws and regulations, and practices for containing, responding to, and cleaning up spills lag behind the real risks associated with deepwater drilling into large, high-pressure reservoirs of oil and gas located far offshore and thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface. Government must close the existing gap and industry must support rather than resist that effort.
  • Scientific understanding of environmental conditions in sensitive environments in deep Gulf waters, along the region’s coastal habitats, and in areas proposed for more drilling, such as the Arctic, is inadequate. The same is true of the human and natural impacts of oil spills.
    The Commission also put forward the fifteen recommendations, three of which included:
  • Congress should draft legislation to create within the Interior Department an independent safety agency and a separate environmental office to evaluate the risks of oil drilling to natural resources to fully separate the agency's regulation of oil companies from its job of collecting revenue from oil produced and land leased offshore.
  • U.S. regulations for offshore drilling should be at least as stringent as those in other oil-producing nations and require oil companies to adopt safety procedures common elsewhere but lacking in the Gulf.
  • An industry-led safety institute, similar to the one created by nuclear power producers after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.

The entire final report, as well as a video of the press conference at which it was released, may be viewed at http://www.oilspillcommission.gov/

Upon release of the final report, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) issued the following statement: “The Commission’s report is one of several investigations into the Deepwater Horizon spill, and its findings will be among those considered as we work to prevent this type of disaster from ever being repeated. Neither this nor any investigation should be used as political justification for a pre-determined agenda to limit affordable energy options for America.” His full statement may be reviewed at: http://energycommerce.house.gov/news/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=8143


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

 

 

REPRESENTATIVE BRADY INTRODUCES CUTS ACT TO REDUCE FEDERAL SPENDING
Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX), Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee and a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, has introduced legislation to reduce federal spending by $153 billion. Upon introducing the bill, Brady observed, “Our nation's budget is out of control. We need to take strong actions today to get it back on track. Both Republicans and Democrats on the deficit commission agreed these cuts need to be made, so let's make a down payment on restoring our nation to a balanced budget and leaner government."

The measure, “Cut Unsustainable and Top-heavy Spending (CUTS Act),” includes many of the savings items identified by the Bi-partisan Deficit Reduction Commission, referenced above, as well as some additional potential areas of saving, including:

  • An immediate 15 percent cut in White House and Congressional budgets;
  • Freezing pay for Members of Congress for three years;
  • Freezing pay for federal employees and DOD civilians for three years;
  • Reducing the federal workforce by 10 percent;
  • Eliminating the  Economic Development Administration;
  • Eliminating the Hollings Manufacturing and Baldrige National Quality Programs;
  • Cutting research funding for fossil fuel;
  • Reducing DOD procurement by 15 Percent; and,
  • Reducing research, development, test & evaluation at DOD by 10 percent.

Brady believes that every federal agency and program, including ones he supports, can operate more efficiently. "Our economy won't grow until businesses and families have some faith that Washington will get their finances in order. I recognize that these are serious savings so I expect serious opposition - but there can be no sacred cows. If someone objects to these cuts then I expect them to substitute another savings of equal or greater value. We simply can't allow these dangerous deficits to continue." 

To read Representative Brady’s full statement, please visit: http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/tx08_brady/pr_110107_spending.html.

A complete listing of the programs included in the CUTS Act, as well as how their respective elimination will affect the federal deficit, may be viewed at: http://www.house.gov/brady/pdf/description_cuts.pdf.

Additional information on the savings projected to be achieved through enactment of the CUTS Act is available at: http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/tx08_brady/the-cuts-act-list-of-spending-cuts.pdf

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

 

 

EPA SUSPENDS BIOMASS FROM PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR THREE YEARS
The use of biomass will be exempt from the Obama Administration's new greenhouse gas regulations for three years, U.S. EPA announced today, giving the agency more time to address concerns that permitting requirements could chill investment in an emerging form of renewable energy.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson issued a statement in which she continued to support the EPA’s endangerment finding for carbon dioxide, as well as the goals of the Administration related to energy and the environment.  “We are working to find a way forward that is scientifically sound and manageable for both producers and consumers of biomass energy," Jackson said. "In the coming years, we will develop a common-sense approach that protects our environment and encourages the use of clean energy. Renewable, homegrown power sources are essential to our energy future, and an important step to cutting the pollution responsible for climate change."

As reported in the January 3rd, 2011 Edition of Capitol Update, under the existing authority of the “Clean Air Act,” the EPA issued an endangerment finding against carbon dioxide in 2009, and announced a gradual phase-in of pollution limits for “stationary sources” of carbon emissions, often referred to as the “tailoring rule.”  Several states, local governments and environmental organizations had recently filed suit against the EPA over the agency’s failure to update the pollution standards for fossil fuel power plants and petroleum refineries. Under the new agreement, EPA will propose standards for power plants in July 2011 and for refineries in December 2011, and will issue final standards in May 2012 and November 2012, respectively. 

On a related topic, effective January 2nd, developers of new power plants, refineries and other high-emitting industrial sources are required to have permits showing that they are using the best available technology to limit their GHG emissions. Emissions from small sources, such as farms and restaurants, are not covered by these GHG permitting requirements.

For more information about the decision to suspend biomass from GHG permitting requirements for three years, please visit: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/4369c709163915b485257816005971bb!OpenDocument

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

 

 

NEW ROADMAP UPDATES STATUS OF DOE’S CCS RD&D EFFORTS
An overview of research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) efforts to supply cost-effective, advanced carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies for coal-based power systems is the focus of a new roadmap published by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Several technologies are being pursued to mitigate risks inherent to RD&D efforts. As outlined in the roadmap, the Clean Coal Research Program integrates advances and lessons learned from fundamental research, technology development, and large-scale demonstration. DOE envisions having an array of advanced CCS technologies ready by 2020 for large-scale demonstration that will provide safe, cost-effective carbon management to meet national goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The success of DOE research and related program activities will enable CCS technologies to overcome a multitude of economic, social, and technical challenges including:

  • Successful integration of  carbon dioxide (CO2) capture, compression, transport, and storage technologies with power generation systems;
  • Effective CO2 monitoring and verification;
  • Permanence of underground CO2 storage; and,
  • Public acceptance.

The 78-page report may be reviewed at: http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/carbon_seq/refshelf/CCSRoadmap.pdf

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

 

 

NIST APPOINTS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR INNOVATION AND INDUSTRY SERVICES
The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced the appointment of Phillip Singerman to the newly created position of Associate Director (AD) for Innovation and Industry Services. Beginning on January 31st, Singerman will lead NIST’s suite of external partnership programs, including the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the Technology Innovation Program and the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.

The new AD position for Innovation and Industry was created as part of the first major realignment of NIST programs in 20 years. The change was designed to improve the agency’s efficiency in delivering both forefront research results and the measurement, standards and technology-related services needed by manufacturers and other customers, providing critical support to U.S. economic growth.

“We’re delighted to have Dr. Singerman join NIST,” said NIST Director Patrick Gallagher. “He brings an unusual breadth of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors and at the national, state and local levels that will be invaluable as we continue to strengthen our partnerships with industry and other stakeholders.”

Singerman currently serves as a Senior Vice President at B&D Consulting, a Washington, D.C.-based firm, where he provides strategic advice and technical assistance on economic development programs to non-profit and public organizations. During the Clinton Administration, he served as Assistant Secretary for Economic Development at the U.S. Commerce Department, and has 30 years of experience leading nationally recognized, regional technology development and transfer organizations, including the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) and Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP).

For additional information, refer to: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/tech-beat/index.cfm#adii

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 906, Washington, DC 20036-5104.