Leading the News
Administration Rolls Out Methane Rules.
Politico (1/15, Martinson) reports that the Administration’s “new strategy to cut methane emissions from oil and gas operations is too weak to meet even the White House’s goals, let alone slow the changes in the climate,” according to critics of the planned rolled out on Wednesday. The new rules “could open the door to future regulations of the powerful greenhouse gas, but Wednesday’s proposals mostly rely on voluntary efforts from oil and gas companies to reduce leaks of methane.” The energy industry said that producers are “already working to eliminate leakage,” because any lost methane “represents lost revenue.”
The Washington Post (1/15, Warrick) reports that the “combination of new regulations and voluntary measures are expected to slash industrial emissions of methane by 40 percent to 45 percent over the next decade.” That will save taxpayer money while “also clamping down on a major cause of climate change,” according to the White House.
The Washington Times (1/15, Wolfgang) reports that the new goals set “an ambitious goal of reducing those emissions by 45 percent over the next decade and again drawing the ire of many in the energy industry.” The move suggests that the President, in his final two years, is “looking to cement his legacy on climate-change and environmental issues.”
In an editorial, the Los Angeles Times (1/15) says that “for too long” the discussion of greenhouse gases has focused on CO2, leading to less focus on “short-lived” gases such as methane. The Times says that “strong regulations on these heat trappers would help the U.S. meet important short-term climate goals, add to its energy resources and reduce harmful pollution.”
MIT Scientist Slams Sanders’ Climate Change Amendment. The Daily Caller (1/14, Bastasch) reports that MIT climate scientist Richard Lindzen “slammed this week’s amendment introduced” by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) that would “make it the official position of the Senate that man-made global warming is real and a threat.” Lindzen said that the amendment is an “attempt to hijack science for political purposes.” Lindzen added, “Climate change is of course real; change being the normal state of affairs in climate. Climate change has caused catastrophic problems on occasion throughout the earth’s history. While man may have contributed somewhat to climate change in recent years, his contribution to the above is highly questionable, and continues to be debated.”
Research Team Reduces Estimate Of 20th Century Sea Level Rise. The New York Times (1/15, Gillis, Subscription Publication) reports that a team of researchers from Harvard and Rutgers Universities reported on Wednesday that “the ocean did not rise quite as much as previously believed in the 20th century” and “proposed a seemingly tiny adjustment that could make a big difference in scientific understanding of the looming problem of sea-level rise.” The team found that instead of rising about six inches in the 20th century, sea levels actually rose by about five inches.
Moniz, Biden Head To Norfolk To Announce Funding For Cybersecurity Education Consortium.
The “Morning Energy” blog of Politico (1/14, Guillén, Martinson) reported that Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Vice President Joe Biden will travel today “to Norfolk for a roundtable discussion and to announce $25 million in DOE funding over five years for a cybersecurity education consortium. The program will consist of 13 historically black schools and two national labs.”
The “Post Politics” blog of the Washington Post (1/15, Wilson) also mentioned the roundtable.
City College Of San Francisco Extends Accreditation Battle.
The Chronicle of Higher Education (1/15, Kelderman) reports “the accreditor that oversees the City College of San Francisco announced Wednesday that the college would have two more years to meet all accreditation standards.” The announcement was “the latest twist in the complex and protracted political and legal battles over whether the college should remain accredited and open.” The college was initially stripped of its accreditation in 2013 by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, but “under pressure from local officials and the U.S. Department of Education, the accrediting commission created a new accreditation status, called ‘restoration’” which allows “the college extra time to reverse the termination decision.”
Philanthropist Donates $1 Million For Free Freshman Year Pilot.
The Washington Post (1/14, Anderson) reports that New York philanthropist Steven B. Klinsky announced a $1 million donation Wednesday that would make the first year of college free for some students “through an online venture overseen by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.” Under Klinsky’s plan, students would “take foundational courses through the online venture edX that would prepare them for College Board examinations in various subjects.” Students would take AP or College-Level Examination Program tests, and if successful, “conceivably would be able to enter college as sophomores.”
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Tells Colleges To Look More Closely At Bank Deals.
Inside Higher Ed (1/15, Stratford) reports “Federal consumer protection officials want colleges to more thoroughly vet the agreements they make with financial institutions to provide banking products on campus.” On Tuesday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said “that it will create voluntary guidelines for colleges as they negotiate deals with financial institutions,” the goal of which “is for colleges to keep students’ financial interest in mind as they negotiate the terms of the arrangements with the companies.” According to CFPB Director Richard Cordray, “the bureau ‘wants to help colleges restore their role as trusted advisers to young people across the country.’”
Federal Government Hopes To Bring Nuclear Waste To Idaho For Research Purposes.
The AP (1/15) reports that Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said “Idaho will grant a one-time waiver to the U.S. Department of Energy to bring nuclear waste into the state for research purposes if certain conditions are met.” Otter, in a letter to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, “said spent fuel rods can enter the state if the federal agency commits to resolving noncompliance issues from a 1995 agreement.” The state “has banned shipments since January 2013 after the Department of Energy missed a cleanup deadline at the Idaho National Laboratory in southeastern Idaho.”
The Idaho Statesman (1/14, Ramseth) also provides coverage of this story.
Research and Development
Texas A&M Spending Big To Recruit Top Researchers.
KBTX-TV Waco, TX (1/15) reports online that Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp has announced “the expansion of the Chancellor’s Research Initiative across all System schools,” explaining that the initiative provides grants to system schools “for the recruitment and hiring of faculty members who will have a transformational impact upon the academic and research missions of the schools.” The article quotes Vice Chancellor of research Dr. Jon Mogford saying, “Our priority is candidates who have a proven track record of success in developing and implementing large, multi-investigator, federally funded programs such as National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centers, NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers, foundations that support the liberal arts, and other funding mechanisms of similar scope and scale.”
Study Finds Faster Growth In STEM Jobs, Ranks Best Cities For STEM Workers.
According to the US News & World Report (1/14, Cook) “Data Mine” blog, a study by Wallethub found that STEM jobs “will grow 1.7 times faster than non-STEM jobs in the period 2008 to 2018.” The study further ranked the best metropolitan areas for STEM professionals based on “job openings per capita for STEM graduates, STEM employment growth, and our STEM High Schools Index, among other variables.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Rickford Still Expects US Will Approve Keystone XL Pipeline.
The Hill (1/14, Cama) reports that the government of Canada “is still expecting the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, despite recent doubts about the project from President Obama.” Canada’s minister for natural resources Greg Rickford said yesterday “that he supports the State Department’s process, even though it has taken more than six years, and believes it will result in an approval.” He stated, “The process, led by the U.S. State Department, which is based on science and facts … appears to point towards approval of the project. … I believe this is a question of when, as opposed to if.” During his two-day visit to Washington, DC, “Rickford met with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and State Department officials, as well as Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).”
The Hill (1/14, Barron-Lopez) notes that on Tuesday, “Rickford joined Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to sign an agreement to increase collaboration on nuclear energy research and development.” The agreement set up “a framework for the U.S. and Canada to work together on improving the cost, safety, efficiency and proliferation resistance of nuclear energy systems.”
The Canadian Press (1/15) reports that during his trip “he apparently received no guarantees, aside from a promise that the clock will start again on a regulatory process that had 18 days left when it was suspended last spring by a court dispute in Nebraska.”
West Virginia Education Board Declines To Adopt Anti-Climate Change Standards.
The Washington Post (1/14, Brown) reports West Virginia “parents, teachers and scientists helped persuade” the state board of education on Wednesday “to back away from adopting science standards that cast doubt on the existence of climate change,” according to the Charleston Gazette. Climate Parents, an organization “that gathered thousands of signatures” supporting the move, said, “Ensuring students are taught evidence-based facts…is a fundamental principle that the Board affirmed today.”
The New York Times (1/15, Schwartz, Subscription Publication) reports that the board voted “to withdraw its altered version of the Next Generation Science Standards,” which “had been quietly made by a member of the West Virginia board before it adopted the standards in December.” The standards to which the board reverted “emphasize the scientific consensus on human activity as a cause of climate change.” The Charleston (WV) Gazette (1/14) also covers this story.
High School Engineering Students Receive BOE Commendation.
The Greenville (OH) Daily Advocate (1/15, Ward) reports that eight seniors at Greenville High School (GHS) Engineering Tech Prep have received Board of Education commendations “for their presentation at the 2014 Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) Capital Conference and Trade Show held in November.” At their booth for the Capital Conference’s Student Achievement Fair, the students exhibited their capstone work on the Water Energy Vortex and Lucid Pipe Power System projects
New Hampshire Governor Releases STEM Pathways Report.
The New Hampshire Union Leader (1/14, Solomon) reported on Tuesday New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan released her report on “Pathways to STEM Excellence,” which includes experts’ recommendations for helping the state “graduate more students in science, technology, engineering and math.” Proposals include the creation of a free New Hampshire Math and Science Academy, “more opportunities for hands-on learning experience in science courses,” and more STEM mentoring for young girls. Hassan spokesman William Hinkle said the governor “will work with the Board of Education, legislators and all other stakeholders about the best ways to move forward on individual steps.”
Wednesday’s Lead Stories
• Administration Set To Roll Out Rules To Sharply Cut Methane Emissions.