In this issue:

 

 

HOUSE TO CONSIDER AMERICA COMPETES REAUTHORIZATION NEXT WEEK
As reported in the April 30th 2010 Edition of Capitol Update, the House Science and Technology Committee recently completed a mark up for "The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010," H.R. 5116.  This bill would provide a five-year reauthorization to continue to doubling path goal by fiscal year (FY) 2017.  On Wednesday, May 12th, the House is expected to vote on this legislation.

This bill would authorize funding increases for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  But it also goes further then the original legislation passed in an overwhelming bipartisan fashion in 2007.  The bill would also seek to provide $3.14 billion for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), a new DOE program which rewards funding for high risk/high reward research concepts.  The bill would also authorize the creation for the Department of Commerce an Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as make loan guarantees available for high-technology manufacturing

Introducing the measure, Chairman Gordon observed "Investments in science, innovation, and education will help ensure that the U.S. maintains our scientific and economic leadership long into the future. I also believe that investing in research and development will add jobs to our communities."

In short, this bill would:

  • Support short-term programs like Innovative Technology Federal Loan Guarantees to address the immediate need of small- and medium-sized manufacturers to access capital to make necessary updates to become more efficient and stay competitive;
  • Support mid-term programs like Regional Innovation Clusters to strengthen regional economies and advance the work done in a given field by leveraging collaboration and communication between businesses and other entities;
  • Invest in basic research through reauthorization of the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST);
  • Reauthorize the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) to pursue high-risk, high-reward energy technology development; and,
  • Authorize Energy Innovation Hubs to help advance the U.S.'s transition to a clean energy economy.

Recently, ASME President Amos E. Holt partnered with the presidents of 24 professional societies to endorse a reauthorization for the America COMPETES Act.  To read this letter please click here Download PDF

To learn more about how you can support the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, please go to http://www.capwiz.com/asme/issues/alert/?alertid=15006936.

 

 

COMMERCE COMMITTEE EXAMINES STEM EDUCATION
As reported in the April 30th Edition of Capitol Update,  the House Science CommitteeÆs passage of COMPETES legislation has turned the focus over the their counterparts in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Justice, and Science.  Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) convened a hearing this week  to examine Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education issues as well as address the goals of the COMPETES legislation.  Senators heard testimony from nationally recognized leaders in STEM education, as well as leaders from the private sector who are ramping up their own commitments to STEM education as a follow-up to the declarations of the 2005 National AcademiesÆ report entitled "Rising Above the Gathering Storm Report" which catalyzed Congress to draft and pass ôThe America COMPETES Actö (P.L. 110-69), which is now up for reauthorization.  The Commerce Committee is expected to ramp up its consideration of COMPETES issues over the coming weeks.

In opening the hearing, Chairman Rockefeller noted that, "When The America COMPETES Act became law in 2007, we were making a commitment to STEM, the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. ...We planted the seeds of something very powerful, but we have to nurture the investment if we want to reap its benefits."  Rockefeller expressed his strong support for moving to reauthorize COMPETES this year, and emphasized the fundamental role that STEM education plays in promoting American competitiveness.

Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) also expressed her support for reauthorizing COMPETES this year, noting that she intended to develop legislation to create a grant program to allow colleges and universities to recruit and prepare students who major in STEM fields to become certified as elementary and secondary school teachers, which she hoped could become part of COMPETES moving forward.  Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) also endorsed legislation, "The Engineering Education for Innovation Act" (H.R.4709, S.3043) which he hoped to wrap into the Senate's COMPETES final package in order to create a greater focus on engineering education at the K-12 level.  Although there was some vocal support for COMPETES, it is unclear when the Commerce committee plans to hold a full mark up for COMPETES reauthorization legislation.

To review member statements, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of the Commerce Committee's hearing, please visit: http://commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Hearings&ContentRecord_id=da2809ca-d4c3-42be-ac22-4cdce796f25d

Melissa Carl covers public policy STEM issues for ASME.  She can be reached at Carlm@asme.org.

 

 

HOUSE PASSES S&T RESOLUTIONS TO HONOR NSF AND IMPROVE STEM PARTICIPATION
One week removed from the House Science and Technology Committee passage of a five-year reauthorization for the bipartisan America COMPETES Act (Please see April 30th Edition of Capitol Update), the House took some floor time this week to also approve three resolutions to honor science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.  These three resolutions were: H.Res.1307, honoring NSF for its 60 years of service to the nation, H.Res.1213, recognizing the need to improve the participation and performance of America's students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, and supporting the ideals of National Lab Day.   "Over the past 60 years, NSF has supported fundamental research leading to many of the innovative discoveries that have benefited society and strengthened the nation's global competitiveness.  In addition to transformative research in science and engineering, NSF supports many education programs and activities that seek to improve the teaching and learning of STEM.  I would like to commend NSF on their great work and contributions over the past six decades," stated outgoing Science Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).

H.Res.1213, introduced by Research and Science Education Vice Chair Marcia Fudge (D-OH), recognizes the need to improve the participation and performance in STEM fields and supports National Lab Day.

"These activities keep students interested and engaged in math and science throughout primary and secondary school. We hope that by keeping children interested early in life, more American students will enter STEM fields," said Rep. Fudge.

In addition to supporting basic research by reauthorizing NSF as well as the Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology labs, The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, H.R. 5116, also aims to strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and foster innovation. The bill is expected to be on the House floor this month.  Additionally, a number of senior lawmakers on the Committee, including Chairman Bart Gordon, Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chair Brian Baird (D-WA), and Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) will be retiring at the conclusion of the 111th Congress.

The House also passed three other resolutions recognizing noteworthy anniversaries in the science and technology field by voice vote: H.Res.1310, recognizing the 50th anniversary of the laser, sponsored by Research and Science Education Subcommittee Ranking Member Vernon Ehlers (R-MI); H.Res.1231, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the worldÆs first meteorological satellite, sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ); and H.Res.1269, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first telescope of astronomical observation, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-OH).

To read more about NSF's 60th anniversary commemorative activities, see http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=116902&org=NSF&from=news

For additional information please visit http://science.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=2814.

Melissa Carl covers public policy STEM issues for ASME.  She can be reached at Carlm@asme.org.

 

 

SENATE ENERGY AMENDS ENERGY BILL
Last summer, as lawmakers in the House were able to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), their Senate colleagues in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee were able to strike a bipartisan compromise to pass a bill that stopped short of pricing carbon dioxide, "The Clean Energy Leadership Act," S. 1462.

Delays in the roll out of a comprehensive legislative proposal by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), have given the upper chamber an opportunity to revisit S. 1462 as perhaps the best means for passing energy legislation in the 111th Congress.  S. 1462 would set a national renewable electricity standard, give high priority transmission siting authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and expand offshore oil and gas exploration.  For more information on H.R. 2454 or S. 1462 please see the June 26th 2009 Edition of Capitol Update.

This week, lawmakers on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee added some amendments to the legislation and may have tipped that this bill will move forward soon as lawmakers become anxious about returning to their districts for campaign season.

The amendments would set efficiency standards for streetlights and other pole-mounted lighting and establish energy-saving targets for air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces and buildings. The new standards would save 33 billion kilowatt-hours of energy and 22.5 million megatons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2020, according to the committee.  Research and development is the focus of several other amendments, including amendments concerning the manufacturing for "light-emitting diode" (LED) lighting, efficiency and reliability of onshore and offshore wind energy, hydroelectric power efficiency and the creation of an Energy Department technology prize for carbon capture and sequestration technology innovation.

To read H.R. 2454, which was passed in the House by a vote of 219-213 in June 2009, please click here

To read S. 1462 or to review the amendments added to the bill please click here http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=f5265a18-2bec-4d7c-92f5-4020fa5fcecc&Month=5&Year=2010&Party=0

Robert Rains covers public policy related energy issues for ASME.  He can be reached at Rainsr@asme.org

 

 

HOUSE PASSES ENERGY STAR BILL
This week the House of Representatives passed the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act (H.R. 5019), by a vote of 246 to 161.  This program provides rebates up to $8,000 for home improvements to enhance energy efficiency.

"Home Star is a practical, commonsense investment in job creation and energy savings. By partnering with the private sector and homeowners, this bipartisan bill will create jobs in construction, manufacturing, and retail," said Rep. Peter Welch. "Vermont has shown that investing in energy efficiency works. Now the rest of the country will have a chance to benefit from the Home Star hat-trick of job creation, energy savings, and reduced carbon emissions."

The program includes two tracks to provide long- and short-term benefits:

  • The Silver Star program provides up to $3,000 rebates to homeowners for the installation of specific energy-saving technologies, including insulation, duct sealing, windows and doors, air sealing, and water heaters.
  • The Gold Star program rewards homeowners who conduct a comprehensive energy audit and implement a full complement of measures to reduce energy use throughout the home. Consumers will receive $3,000, or half the cost, for measures that reduce energy use by 20 percent, and can receive up to $8,000 when additional energy savings are achieved.

According to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Home Star is expected to help three million families to renovate their homes to be more energy efficient, resulting in $9.2 billion in estimated consumer savings on energy bills over the next 10 years.

To learn more about H.R. 5019 please click here http://energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1986:h-r-5019-the-home-star-energy-retrofit-act-of-2010&catid=169:legislation&Itemid=55

Robert Rains covers public policy related energy issues for ASME.  He can be reached at Rainsr@asme.org

 

 

DOE AWARDS $106M IN SECOND ROUND OF ARPA-E
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $106 million in funding for 37 ambitious research projects that could fundamentally change the way the country uses and produces energy.  Funded through DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the $106 million is awarded to projects that could produce advanced biofuels more efficiently from renewable electricity instead of sunlight; design completely new types of batteries to make electric vehicles more affordable; and remove the carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants in a more cost-effective way.   "These projects show that the U.S. can lead the next Industrial Revolution in clean energy technologies, which will help create new jobs, spur innovation and economic growth while helping to cut carbon pollution dramatically," said DOE Secretary Steven Chu. Refer to http://www.energy.gov/news/8911.htm for additional information.   The grants will go to projects in 17 states. Of the lead recipients, 24 percent are small businesses, 57 percent are educational institutions, 11 percent are national labs, and 8 percent are large corporations.

The second round of ARPA-E-funded research projects focuses on three critical areas:

  • "Electrofuels" - Biofuels from Electricity;
  • Better Batteries - Batteries for Electrical Energy Storage in Transportation ("BEEST"); and,
  • Zero-Carbon Coal:  Innovative Materials & Processes for Advanced Carbon Capture Technologies ("IMPACCT").

View the project selections at http://arpa-e.energy.gov/Portals/0/documents/news/ARPA-ETableofProject%20Selection4-29-2010FINAL.PDF.

The technical descriptions of the selected projects may be read at http://arpa-e.energy.gov/Portals/0/documents/news/ARPA-ETableofProjectSelections4-29-2010technicalv2FINAl.PDF

Robert Rains covers public policy related energy issues for ASME.  He can be reached at Rainsr@asme.org

 

 

FEDERAL TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER REPORT SUBMITTED TO CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently released the annual technology transfer report to the President and Congress. The report highlights the achievements of federal technology transfer and partnership programs at 11 federal agencies that conduct research and development. In addition to performance metrics for a five-year period, the report features anecdotes that demonstrate how investment in research and development improves the lives of American citizens and spurs the development of new products.   Technology transfer is an essential mission of federal laboratories that leverages the creative intellectual capital of government scientists and the nation's investments in science and technology to strengthen the American economy and the nation's ability to compete in world markets.   The statistical data provided in this report are a snapshot of the level of activity at federal labs. Overall, the data indicate that licenses and license income trended upward between 2004 and 2008. The number of licenses jumped to 11,098, an increase of 46.6 percent, and the number of income bearing licenses increased to 6,444, a 35 percent rise. From FY 2004 through FY 2008, federal revenues from these licenses grew to $170.9 million, a 71.7 percent jump, and total earned royalty income reached $117.6 million, a 121.5 percent gain. The total number of patent applications submitted by internal research programs among the 11 agencies rose to 1,938, an increase of 9.6 percent.   These patents represent new ideas and products that are ready to move to the commercial sector and support economic growth.   To read the full report, go to http://www.nist.gov/publication-portal.cfm 

Paul Fakes covers Research and Development Public Policy Issues for ASME. He can be reached at FakesP@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.