March 14, 2011
ASME News and Public Policy Updates


In this issue:
* ASME President-Elect Moderates "STEM 101" Capitol Hill Briefing
* Senate Rejects Both Republican and Democratic FY 2011 CR Proposals
* Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Approves Bill to Block EPA Regulation of GHGs
* SS&T Committee Questions DOE and NASA Heads on Proposed FY 2012 Budgets
* Nuclear Power 2021 Act Introduced in the Senate
* DOE Announces Energy Frontier Research Centers Summit & Forum
* ASME Federal Government Fellowship Deadline Fast Approaching!

On March 10th, ASME organized a briefing for new Members of Congress and their staff entitled, "STEM 101: An Overview of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Policy and Issues."  ASME President-Elect Victoria Rockwell provided opening remarks and moderated the briefing, which was hosted by the House STEM Education Caucus.  House STEM Education Caucus Co-Chair, Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) provided opening remarks, as did Caucus members, Representatives Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH)

The briefing was also co-sponsored by the following organizations:  the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the American Chemical Society (ACS), the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

At the request of House STEM Caucus Co-Chair Daniel Lipinski, Heather Gonzalez and Jeff Kuenzi, policy analysts from the Congressional Research Service, spoke first at the briefing and provided attendees with an overview of STEM programs at the Department of Education (ED) and National Science Foundation (NSF) in President Obama's FY 2012 budget request.

Edward Swallow, Chair of the STEM Workforce Division of NDIA, followed, and provided attendees with industry's perspective, specifically discussing the defense industry's growing need to find clearable U.S.
graduates who can work in secure environments in order to maintain U.S.
national security competitiveness.

Finally, James Brown, the Executive Director of the STEM Education Coalition, closed out the program by discussing a number of potential STEM-related policy issues that may be discussed and debated in the 112th Congress.  Some of these issues include: how science will be included in the proposed new accountability system of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA); the need for better coordination of federal STEM programs; and what STEM programs are currently being targeted in the proposed FY 2011 continuing resolutions (CR).

Melissa Carl handles public policy-related STEM education issues for ASME.
 She can be reached at: carlm@asme.org.

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The U.S. Senate on March 9th failed to approve either of the two proposed FY 2011 continuing resolution (CR) proposals to fund the federal government through September 30th. The current CR expires on March 18th.

FY 2011 began on October 1, 2010.  Political historians have been quick to draw comparisons between the current disagreements over the federal budget and the now-infamous partial government shutdowns of 1995-1996 when a Republican Congress butted heads with a Democratic Administration over the cost of the federal budget.  Since 1981, the federal government has had more than a dozen "shutdowns."  In the event of a government shutdown, all non-essential government employees would be barred from continuing their work.  While on furlough, federal employees won't receive a paycheck, nor would government contractors. Federal employees would likely receive back pay, but contractors may not be so lucky.

The first CR was proposed by Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Daniel Inouye (D-HI), and cut $4.8 billion from the funding for the remainder of the fiscal year.  Ultimately, the measure was defeated by a vote of 42-58, which included eleven Democrats.  The second CR was H.R. 1, which passed the House last month and cut close to $60 billion from current funding levels.  This measure was also defeated by a vote of 44-56.  A summary of Chairman Inouye's proposal may be viewed at http://appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=7e62b4eb-ed09-4dd4-86f0-411534783127, while the text is available on the Library of Congress web site (http://thomas.loc.gov) and searching by bill number.

Remarks by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) following the votes were rather predictable. On the defeat of the House H.R. 1 CR proposal, Reid said "It would destroy 700,000 American jobs, weaken our border security and slash housing for homeless veterans. Now that it has been defeated, Republicans have no excuses left.  It's time for them to work with us on a responsible, long-term solution that funds our government for the rest of the year, makes responsible cuts and safeguards our fragile economic recovery." To view Senator Reid's full remarks, please visit:

Boehner, on the defeat of the Senate Democrat's CR proposal, stated "Americans are demanding that Washington rein in out-of-control federal spending to end the economic uncertainty for businesses and help them begin hiring again.  The proposal put forward by the White House and congressional Democrats to cut just $4.7 billion for the remainder of the fiscal year is simply not credible, and the American people won't tolerate it.  It's time for Washington Democrats to present a serious plan to cut spending.  In the meantime, Republicans will continue to keep our pledge to focus on the American people's priorities: cutting spending and creating jobs." For Speaker Boehner's full remarks, please visit:

Following the votes, the White House issued a statement reading, in part, as follows: "Today's votes in the Senate demonstrate that Democrats and Republicans must come together to find common ground on a budget that cuts spending and puts us on a path to live within our means, but also ensures we continue to invest in our future.   There is no disagreement that we have to cut spending, which is why we have already agreed to meet Republicans halfway and have indicated our willingness to do more.   But,
we need to ensure we cut responsibly, and that we don't undermine growth and competitiveness by cutting investments in education and research and development."

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Recently, the House Energy and Commerce Energy and Power Subcommittee approved H.R. 910, the "Energy Tax Prevention Act," during a markup session on March 10th.  The measure was approved by a voice vote within the Subcommittee.  The bill, authored by full Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-MI), would "amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change, and for other purposes."

Earlier in the week, the Subcommittee held a hearing on H.R. 910. A companion measure, S. 482, is pending before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Each of the bills is titled the "Energy Tax Prevention Act."

The bills would bar the EPA from using federal law to control greenhouse gases from power plants, refineries and other industrial facilities.  However, the measures would not bar states from taking action on global warming gases and preserves an agreement between the Obama Administration and automakers to boost fuel economy and to introduce greenhouse gas standards on tailpipes.

The Subcommittee on Energy and Power's hearing, entitled "Climate Science and EPA's Greenhouse Gas Regulations," featured witnesses from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of Alabama in Huntsville and University of Victoria.

In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chair Ed Whitfield (R-KY) noted:  "Science serves to inform us about the nature of a problem, and I look forward to listening to the presentations that follow. But whether one thinks the science tells us that global warming is a serious problem, a minor problem, or hardly a problem at all, the real question before this committee is whether EPA's regulations under the Clean Air Act are a wise solution to that problem. Clearly they are not. In fact, one need not be a skeptic of global warming to be a skeptic of EPA's regulatory agenda." His entire statement is available at:

The background memorandum on the hearing may be viewed at:

An archived view of the hearing may be seen at:

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

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The House Science, Space and Technology (SS&T) Committee recently held hearings to question the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 budget proposals for two key agencies: the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Each of those hearings is summarized below.

The focus of the DOE hearing was on that agency's FY 2012 budget request for energy research and technology development programs, including activities under the Office of Science, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, Fossil Energy, Nuclear Energy, Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, and the Loan Guarantee Program Office.

Republican members of the Committee questioned Energy Secretary Steven Chu on the significant "clean energy" spending increases represented in the President's fiscal year 2012 budget request for DOE, specifically about the proposal to require that the U.S. produce 80 percent of its electricity from "clean" sources by 2035. When Chairman Hall asked Secretary Chu about the cost of the proposed clean energy standard (CES), Chu conceded that he didn't know how much it will cost in terms of taxpayer spending as well as higher electricity prices for consumers.

"While I want to better understand how the Administration intends to reach this goal, and while I strongly support an 'all-of-the-above' approach to energy security, I'm concerned that this plan entails spending we can't afford and taxes and regulations that would raise the cost of energy and harm our economy," Chairman Hall said.

During the SS&T Committee's hearing on NASA's FY 2012 proposed budget, members expressed numerous concerns to Administrator Charles Bolden over funding priorities. "I am concerned that the future of our space program is in serious jeopardy," said Chairman Ralph Hall.  "With the retirement of the Space Shuttle, NASA faces a critical period and needs to focus its limited resources to sustain our leadership in space.  As everyone knows, we are in a challenging budget environment. In times like these, it is more important than ever for NASA to have credible, realistic plans that can be understood and defended."

Congress last year passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, which represented a compromise on several issues and incorporated funding guidelines that could allow the space program to move forward.
Specifically the Act provided $10.8 billion over three years for the newly-designated Multi- Purpose Crew Vehicle and Space Launch System to assure the capability to supply and support the International Space Station (ISS) for the U.S. and its international partners.

In defending the President's request, Charles F. Bolden, Jr., NASA Administrator, said that NASA's "foremost priority is our current human spaceflight endeavor - the International Space Station - and the safety and viability of the astronauts aboard it." Bolden also said that he still expects commercial crew capabilities to be available by 2015 - 2016.

To review the DOE hearing charter, Chairman Hall's full statement and Secretary Chu's testimony, go to

To read the NASA hearing charter, the entire opening statement of Chairman Hall and Administrator Bolden's written statement, please visit: 

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

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

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Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Udall (D-CO) have introduced legislation to direct DOE to develop innovative, low-cost nuclear reactors.  The Nuclear Power 2021 Act, S. 512, proposes a program to design and certify small modular reactors (< 300 megawatts), which can be built and operated in combination with similar reactors at a single site.

Upon introducing the bill Senator Bingaman observed, "Modular reactors make sense because they do not require as large up-front capital investment as conventional reactors.  They will keep construction costs down at a time when the expense of building a traditional plant has become so high.  I believe that it is appropriate for the Energy Department to work with utilities on the design and approval process for these reactors because nuclear power will play an important role in a carbon-constrained energy world."

Smaller reactors can be less capital intensive than the larger 1000-megawatt reactors currently being licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).  They also have the potential to be built in a modular and step-wise fashion.  Under the Bingaman-Murkowski-Udall bill, the federal effort would be cost-shared with the private sector and selected under a competitive merit review process that emphasizes efficiency, cost, safety and proliferation resistance.

Specifically, the Nuclear Power 2021 Act authorizes the Secretary of Energy to work in a public-private partnership to:

  • Develop a standard design for two modular reactors, one of which will not be more than 50 megawatts;
  • Obtain a design certification from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for each design by 2018; and,
  • Obtain a combined operating license from the Commission by 2021.

S. 512 may be read at:

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

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DOE has announced the first "Science for Our Nation's Energy Future:  Energy Frontier Research Centers Summit & Forum" to be held on May 25-27, 2011, in Washington D.C. The Summit will bring together scientists and energy policy leaders to explore the challenges and opportunities in applying America's extraordinary scientific and technical resources to critical energy needs and will highlight early successes of the DOE's Energy Frontier Research Centers and promote collaboration across the national energy enterprise.

"The Energy Frontier Research Centers are key elements of our national strategy to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs for tomorrow's energy technologies," said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.  "This meeting provides a context for collaboration across the national energy enterprise and an opportunity to hear about the most promising and exciting advances the Centers are making."

During the three-day Summit, invited guests and attendees will delve into a wide range of energy topics during in-depth parallel technical sessions and poster presentations. Focus areas will include electrical energy storage, fuels from sunlight, carbon capture and sequestration, solar energy, solid state lighting, advanced nuclear energy systems, materials by design, and novel materials synthesis.

To register for the 2011 Science for Our Nation's Energy Future: EFRC Summit & Forum, visit http://www.energyfrontier.us/ where detailed information is available.

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

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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, visit:
Advocacy and Government Relations or contact Kathryn Holmes, Director, ASME Government Relations, at holmesk@asme.org  or 202-785-7390.


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