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ASME Policy Impact Highlights Role of Engineering in U.S. Clean Energy Goals

ASME Policy Impact Highlights Role of Engineering in U.S. Clean Energy Goals

ASME Highlights the Role of Engineering in Supporting U.S. Clean Energy and Sustainability Goals During Policy Impact 2023

Leaders in U.S. engineering participate in policy advocacy with government and industry officials, culminating in meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) convened its two-day Policy Impact 2023 event, bringing together U.S. government and industry leaders with ASME members to discuss the vital role of engineering to new developments in clean energy and climate sustainability. The annual event culminated in ASME members meeting with their elected representatives in Congress to discuss the importance of fully investing in science and engineering efforts to meet future climate and sustainability goals.

“In the coming years and decades, climate change will claim a role in nearly every problem that engineers face,” said ASME Executive Director/CEO Tom Costabile in his opening remarks for Policy Impact 2023. “As a member-focused organization, ASME occupies a unique position as a global standards developer, educator, and influencer across sectors, industries, and borders. Engineers are natural problem solvers, and ASME is committed to developing the tools and training needed to find and implement sustainable climate action for the benefit of humanity. Together, I am confident we can leverage our unique global position to affect positive change.”

Noting the Biden Administration’s historic climate change goals—including an ambitious reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions—keynote speaker Sally Benson, Ph.D., Deputy Director of Energy in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), outlined the important role of mechanical engineers in meeting the technology challenges along the path to a net-zero emission economy by 2050. 

The Biden-Harris Administration recently published an assessment of R&D opportunities to achieve climate goals, which outlines key areas where technological innovation can drive major progress towards decarbonization goals.

“There is a tremendous amount of work we have to do over the next 30 years to meet our climate goals,” she said. “Mechanical engineers have an absolutely central role to play in that.”

Benson outlined how research opportunities for mechanical engineers align with climate initiatives, including building a net-zero power grid, achieving low-GHG emission heating and cooling for buildings, enabling net-zero aviation and industrial products, and deploying advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors and fusion energy. 

During the morning’s panel program, “Climate and Clean Energy: A Washington Outlook” moderated by Rachel Frazin, journalist with The Hill, industry leaders Jeremy Harrell of ClearPath, Sandra Purohit of E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), and Kevin Stockert of NextEra Energy discussed recent bipartisan policy progress towards climate and sustainability goals. The panel highlighted how engineers have a key role to play in communicating the value and necessity of climate and sustainability investments, and the importance of building connections between local climate and sustainability investments and national policy leaders in Congress.

In discussing the sustainability challenges facing our nation today, Stockert quoted the CEO of NextEra Energy who said, “Never bet against an engineer.”

Harrell added, “This is our moment. Policy is irrelevant if [engineers] aren't leading the build-out of this giant energy transformation."

During the afternoon’s panel, “Pathway to Progress” moderated by Tom Kurfess, Ph.D., chief manufacturing officer of the Georgia Institute of Technology, industry experts Dale Smith, regional director of environmental sustainability for Boeing, Thomas Behringer, executive vice president and director of nuclear power with Sargent and Lundy, and Iana Aranda, director of engineering for sustainable development at ASME presented a variety of perspectives on engineering sustainability seen through the lens of current government and industry sustainability investments. The panel discussed the role of clean hydrogen and advanced nuclear technologies in reaching decarbonization goals, and how new technology innovation efforts must be aligned with stable and consistent research and workforce development efforts to enable new sustainability pathways to achieve net-zero goals. 

The second day of Policy Impact 2023 focused on congressional visits by ASME members from across the country. ASME members shared with their elected representatives the need to fully fund the new CHIPS and Science Act as well as support ongoing efforts to address the climate and sustainability challenges facing our nation. These advocacy discussions align with ASME’s focus on addressing climate as one of the greatest challenges facing engineers today.

Read ASME’s climate position statement here.

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