Home | Contact ST  

Capital Report

2012:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC
2011:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

April 2011 Issue

Marine, Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Legislation Introduced in the Senate
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), ranking member on the Committee of Energy and Natural Resources, introduced in March the Marine and Hydrokinetic (MHK) Renewable Energy Promotion Act of 2011.

The act includes adaptive management grant provisions to provide a mechanism to collect and share environmental data, authorizes federal funding for three national MHK testing facilities and establishes an energy device verification program. The legislation also authorizes $75 million a year for three years (2012-14) for MHK programs covered in the bill.

The Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition (OREC) said it supports the legislation introduced by Murkowski. OREC President Sean O'Neill said MHK could provide 10 percent of the present U.S. electricity consumption, and that the measures in the legislation would be essential for moving the industry toward commercialization.

"There is a real need to diversify our electricity supply," O'Neill said. "A reliable electrical system relies on a diversity of energy sources, including wave, tidal, in-stream and other MHK technologies. Marine and hydrokinetic technologies are being developed for free-moving freshwater resources as well as ocean and tidal areas. This industry represents jobs and economic development throughout the country. The supply chain for manufacturing is widespread and goes well beyond the immediate potential for revitalizing shipyards and diversifying other maritime industries."

2012 Funding for NSF, NIST Debated in Congress
At hearings for 2010 budget requests of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Republicans raised issues in regard to prioritization and duplication of funding, particularly in light of the significant increases represented in the fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget requests.

The FY 2012 budget request for NSF is $7.7 billion, an increase of 13 percent over the FY 2010 enacted level, which does not include any carryover from the $3 billion NSF received from stimulus funding. The budget request for NIST is $1 billion, representing a 17 percent increase from the FY 2010 enacted level.

Committee chairman Ralph Hall (R-Texas) said while both agencies make vital contributions, he questioned whether the United States could afford funding budget increases. In particular, Hall questioned the funding of what he called "specific applied research areas" instead of fundamental, basic research. Along these lines, Republicans questioned whether NSF's $998 million portfolio intended to "spark innovations for tomorrow's clean energy sources with a cross-disciplinary approach to sustainability science," should be a funding priority.

Republicans questioned NSF Director Subra Suresh on instances of duplicative and unnecessary spending at the foundation. One specific example of excessive spending that was discussed was a grant of $696,000 to a New York theater company for a production about climate change.

Regarding NIST, Chairman Hall applauded the work of the agency in advancing American innovation.

Democratic members expressed support for the research budget being proposed for NSF and for its efforts to provide opportunities to enhance interdisciplinary research in areas such as advanced manufacturing and nanoelectronics.

Democratic members raised concerns about some of the specific details in the request, including level funding for many of NSF's Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathe?matics education programs, and they stressed the need for coordination between NIST and other agencies on a number of new standards-related efforts proposed in the request.

While acknowledging the need to get down the deficit, ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) criticized the looming cuts to these agencies in the pending FY 2011 continuing resolution.

"If the funding bill—H.R.1—passed by the House last month is enacted, we will be moving in exactly the wrong direction," Johnson said. "I am dumbfounded that we are even considering cutting the very investments that will reduce our debt over the long term, ensure that there are well-paying jobs for future generations and help our young people develop the skills that they need to get those jobs."

Democrats also voiced support for NIST's budget request, in particular the agency's work to address critical challenges in manufacturing, clean energy and cybersecurity.

Republicans Raise Concerns With NOAA Climate Service, EPA Science Activities
In a March hearing to review the fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget requests of NOAA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Republicans questioned spending priorities and commitment to objective and transparent science-based decision-making.

Addressing NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco, Chairman Ralph Hall (R-Texas) said he strongly opposed the agency moving forward with creation of a new Climate Service without congressional review or approval. As part of the FY 2012 budget proposal, the Obama administration requested $346.2 million to create this new line office.

Republicans acknowledged the important and useful information that comes from NOAA, but questioned the wisdom of transferring funds away from existing offices to create this new office.

Lubchenco said proposed cuts currently in Congress would likely impact the service's ability to provide services.

"It is likely to be very devastating to our ability to continue to provide the kind of weather information that Americans depend upon to save lives and save property," Lubchenco said.

Answering a question about the climate prediction, Lubchenco said one of the major research challenges was bringing together climate models for better prediction in the short-to-medium-term time scales.

"We are getting absolutely inundated with requests for information that is months to years to decades out," she said. "It is in that type of information where we see a huge opportunity to provide what we call "climate services" to help in that type of planning."





2012:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC
2011:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

-back to top-

Sea Technology is read worldwide in more than 110 countries by management, engineers, scientists and technical personnel working in industry, government and educational research institutions. Readers are involved with oceanographic research, fisheries management, offshore oil and gas exploration and production, undersea defense including antisubmarine warfare, ocean mining and commercial diving.