June 8, 2018
Capitol Update

In this issue:


LACK OF SKILLED WORKERS PUTS SECURITY OF THE ELECTRIC GRID AT RISK WARNS NEW REPORT

Following up on last week’s Capitol Update, in which we reported the Office of Management and Budget released a report stating most federal agencies are unprepared for cyber-attacks, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently released its own report on the matter. The Cyber EO 2E report asserts that “Cybersecurity of the U.S. electric grid has emerged as one of the most important issues facing the electricity subsector today.”

The assessment enumerates gaps in capabilities and capacity that exist around enhancing cyber incident response capacity, including: 

  1. Cyber Situational Awareness and Incident Impact Analysis
  2. Roles and Responsibilities under Cyber Response Frameworks
  3. Cybersecurity Integration into State Energy Assurance Planning
  4. Electric Cybersecurity Workforce and Expertise
  5. Supply Chain and Trusted Partners
  6. Public-Private Cybersecurity Information Sharing
  7. Resources for National Cybersecurity Preparedness

These gaps stem from issues such as lack of funding and a dearth of skilled workers. The lack of awareness regarding the consequences of a large scale power outage caused by an attack on the electric grid is a main concern. The report explains that “Mitigating this gap will require detailed knowledge of the capabilities of the adversary, the real-time technical conditions of the grid and electricity markets, the behavioral responses of the operators of multiple systems and their customers, as well as tens if not hundreds of additional variables.” It goes on to explain that there is also little understanding of how to recover from a cyber-attack, as these attacks would differ greatly from other factors affecting the grid such as hurricanes or ice storms.

Due to the wide scope of cyber-attacks on the electric grid, the report also calls on the DOE to work with other agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security to bolster both defenses against cyber-attacks, as well as responses to successfully executed attacks. While there have been no major attacks reported on the grid to-date, the report makes reference to the two cyber-attacks on the Ukrainian electric grid in December 2015 and again in 2016.

In a press release following the release of the report, DOE Secretary Rick Perry highlighted the newly-created Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response as an “important step” in safeguarding energy infrastructure, and that "This Administration recognizes the growing security risk of cyber threats and has prioritized overcoming these challenges facing our nation."

To read the full report, click here:      https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2018/05/f51/EO13800%20electricity%20subsector%20report.pdf  


DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY PROPOSES PURCHASING ELECTRICITY FROM SPECIFIC COAL AND NUCLEAR PLANTS TO PREVENT THEIR “PREMATURE” RETIREMENT

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently submitted a proposal to the White House in which it suggests purchasing electricity from several coal and nuclear power plants to strengthen the grid and prevent the “premature” retirement of these power-generating facilities. The proposal, asserts that resilience of the grid relies on a sturdy source of power, and that “Recent and announced retirements of fuel-secure electric generation capacity across the continental United States are undermining the security of the electric power system because the system’s resilience depends on those resources.”

On its website, the Environmental Protection Agency lists the burning of fossil fuels for electricity production, including coal, contributed almost 30 percent to greenhouse gas emissions in 2016. Consequently, news of this proposal drew swift condemnation from the energy sector, with a group of oil, gas, solar, wind and energy trade groups coming together to release a set of joint statements in opposition.

The 41 page proposal’s success is contingent on the DOE exerting its emergency authority as laid out under the Defense Product Act of 1950 and the Federal Power Act. Under these pieces of legislation, the DOE can instruct grid operators to purchase power from specific “subject generation facilities” to ensure that they remain open. It has been reported that many of these facilities are owned by political allies of President Trump in the coal industry. 

To view the draft proposal, click here: https://www.scribd.com/document/380740746/DOE-Coal-Nuke-Subsidy-Plan-1

To view the energy sector’s response, click here: http://www.electricenergyonline.com/article/energy/category/generation/52/704424/broad-energy-coalition-condemns-action-to-subsidize-failing-coal-nuclear-plants.html  


DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY SUBMIT JOINT EMISSIONS STANDARDS PROPOSAL TO OFFICIALLY ROLL-BACK OBAMA-ERA STANDARDS

The Department of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently submitted a joint proposal on revised fuel efficiency standards to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The proposal is expected to roll back Obama-era emissions standards. Back in April, the issue of fuel emissions standards arose when the EPA contended that the current standards implemented under the previous administration were too aggressive, to the support of many automakers. This followed up with the January release of an EPA report that noted that 2016 model year cars had not met the greenhouse emissions standards for the first time since their inception.

In this new proposal, the EPA has aligned its emissions standards regulations with DOT's corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. The goal of CAFE standards is to reduce energy consumption by increasing the efficiency of cars and trucks. Once this new joint proposal has been reviewed by OMB, it will be sent back to EPA and DOT, following which, a notice of proposed rulemaking will be posted in the federal register and highlighted in ASME Capitol Update, possibly as early as next month.  

For more information on DOT CAFE standards, click here: https://www.transportation.gov/mission/sustainability/corporate-average-fuel-economy-cafe-standards  


ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PAVES THE WAY FOR NEW SOFTWARE TO HELP DETECT AND DIAGNOSE WRIST FRACTURES

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently gave the green light on the marketing of a computer-aided software that can detect and diagnose wrist fractures. This is the next step in the advancement of artificial intelligence for medical practice. However, as the FDA’s official press release notes, this program should not be used in place of official clinical diagnose. But rather, the device is intended to be used as an “adjunct tool.”

The software, called OsteoDetect, uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to analyze two-dimensional x-rays to identify a common type of wrist fracture. The software also pinpoints the location of the fracture on the x-ray to assist the medical provider in locating and treating the injury more expediently.

For further information, click here: https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm608833.htm


FDA ANNOUNCES NEW CHALLENGE SEEKING MEDICAL DEVICES THAT WILL HELP COMBAT THE ONGOING OPIOID EPIDEMIC

In response to the ongoing opioid epidemic, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced a new “innovation challenge” to encourage the development of new medical devices to help combat this issue. The challenge is seeking new medical devices, including mobile apps and computer software that can provide an alternate source of relief for treating addiction and pain than opioids.

In an FDA press release, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. said, “Medical devices, including digital health devices like mobile medical apps, have the potential to play a unique and important role in tackling the opioid crisis. We must advance new ways to find tools to help address the human and financial toll of opioid addiction.”

Project submissions will be accepted through September 30, with selected applicants notified in November. Submissions will be evaluated by the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, and will be selected based on feasibility, potential public health impact, and novelty of concept. Once selected, successful projects will have the opportunity to closely collaborate with the FDA during development and evaluation of the submitted project, with Breakthrough Device designation automatically awarded to applicable projects.

For further information on the FDA innovation challenge, click here: https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm609188.htm  

 

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.

ASME Government Relations
1828 L Street, NW, Suite 810
Washington, DC 20036

Website: http://www.asme.org/about-asme/advocacy-government-relations

Paul Fakes is the Regulatory and Government Relations Manager, Technology Policy. He covers Standards and Energy and Environment.

Samantha Fijacko is the Senior Government Relations Representative. She covers Advanced Manufacturing, Robotics and R&D.

Anne Nadler is the Government Relations Representative. She covers Bioengineering, STEM Education and R&D.