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April 2017 Issue

FCC Mandates GNSS Testing
For Maritime Safety Products

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has mandated that any new products related to improving maritime safety must be tested using GNSS.

Spirent claims to have developed GNSS, as well as test scenarios that mock realistic satellite reception conditions at sea to improve GPS distress beacon performance and enable faster and more efficient search and rescue at sea.


US House Science Subcommittees’
Hearing on Social Cost of Carbon

The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittees on Environment and Oversight held a joint hearing titled “At What Cost? Examining the Social Cost of Carbon.”

The Social Cost of Carbon is an estimate of the economic damages caused from the release of a single metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions.

Ranking Member of the Oversight Subcommittee Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) made an opening statement emphasizing that assessing and addressing the impact of climate change on current and future generations is critical. The social cost of carbon permits the government to help quantify the future economic damages caused as a result of carbon emissions that contribute to climate change and global warming.

In 2009, the Barack Obama Administration convened an interagency effort to formalize a consistent value for this metric. Its use has been challenged in the courts recently, but the courts have upheld the methodology used to obtain this estimate.

Beyer argued that climate change is real, scientific evidence supports it, and the Science Committee should be leading the fight to protect against its impacts.


US Senate Hearing on
Flood Control Infrastructure

The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on “Flood Control Infrastructure: Safety Questions Raised by Current Events.” Ranking Member Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) made an opening statement on the need to modernize and rebuild aging infrastructure, with a focus on job growth and job preservation. He pointed out that when dams and levees fail, they can result in loss of life and economic devastation.

The 2013 infrastructure report card issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave a D grade to roads, dams, drinking water and wastewater. Inland waterways and levees received a D-. Ports received a C, and bridges received a C+.

Carper said it’s also important to invest in protecting U.S. natural infrastructure, such as shorelines and wetland ecosystems.


Flame Refluxer Tested
During Controlled Oil Burn

A team of researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) tested new oil-burning technology called the Flame Refluxer at the Coast Guard’s Joint Maritime Test Facility during a controlled burn of oil on Mobile Bay, Alabama, with observation from Little Sand Island.

WPI is the first university to work with the Coast Guard on research at the facility since it reopened in 2015.

The Flame Refluxer comprises metal coils attached to a blanket made from copper wool sandwiched between two layers of copper mesh. The blanket is designed to be placed on top of floating oil that has been collected with a boom towed by two boats. After the oil is ignited, the coils and blanket transmit heat from the flames to superheat the oil, which increases its burning rate and efficiency. As a result, the oil burns more completely. The more complete combustion produces fewer airborne emissions, and any solid residue is captured by the copper wool and kept out of the water column. The Flame Refluxer is expected to become an important tool for oil spill responders to combat disasters.


Scientific Integrity Act Would Protect
Government Research from Politics

The Scientific Integrity Act was introduced in the U.S. House Science Committee. It will require U.S. federal agencies to adopt or strengthen policies to insulate government-directed research from the influence of political pressure and special interests. The bill was introduced with 77 original co-sponsors. Federal agencies that conduct or fund scientific research would be required to develop clear written scientific integrity policies that can guarantee research is being done and published without undue influence, censorship or distortion. Scientific and technological information would be able to flow more easily while protecting privacy, confidentiality and national security. Twenty-four federal agencies have developed scientific integrity policies to date. This legislation would codify and strengthen these policies in a common framework.


US Department of Interior to Offer
73 Million Acres in Gulf

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced that the department will offer 73 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida for oil and gas exploration and development. The proposed lease sale August 16, 2017 would include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Lease Sale 249 will include about 13,725 unleased blocks, located 3 to 230 mi. offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern planning areas in water depths ranging from 9 to more than 11,115 ft.

BOEM, USACE Agree to
Coordinate OCS Management

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have signed a memorandum of understanding that will enhance coordination on managing sand, gravel and shell resources from the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), which consists of 1.7 billion acres of seafloor under federal jurisdiction. The agreement supports consistency in environmental compliance, project scheduling and negotiated agreement requirements for projects proposing to use OCS sand, gravel and shell resources, for which there has been a growing demand in recent years.



2017:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL
2016:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

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