Leading the News
Administration Aims To Set Court Climate Rule Decision After UN Talks.
The Hill (10/29, Cama) reports that the schedule proposed by the Justice Department for the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to decide whether to temporarily block the EPA’s Clean Power Plan “would have the last briefs for a requested stay filed December 23,” after the December 11 UN climate talks in Paris. The Hill reports that “opponents think staying the rule would send a strong signal and could derail an international pact to fight climate change,” while the Justice Department and the EPA “characterized the schedule as reasonable.” No litigants expressed opposition to the proposed briefing schedule.
Senate Approves House Bill Extending Highway Funding For Three Weeks.
The Business Journals (10/29) reports following passage of the bill in the House, the Senate on Wednesday approved a three-week federal highway programs extension, keeping “funds for highways and other surface transportation projects” flowing until November 20. The short-term fix gives Congress more time to negotiate a long-term highway bill, the funding of which lawmakers have been unable to agree on.
Changes To College Application Process At Some “Elite” Institutions Prompt Debate Over Fairness.
The Los Angeles Times (10/28, Gordon) reports that many “elite” higher education institutions have made changes to their application process – seeking recommendation letters and allowing students to submit school assignments from as early as 9th grade – which many have criticized as being unfair to students who might lack effective support from counselors and families “who know how to work the system.” Although advocates of the changes contend that the goal of the initiative is to attract a wider applicant pool, critics argue that lower-income students will be less able to compete in the new format and that the changes place undue stress on students who should not be focused on their college prospects as early as the 9th grade. The coalition of schools which plan to adopt these changes reportedly plans to begin accepting applications in the summer of 2016, and will allow student access to the format in April.
Research and Development
Marines Look To Modernize Existing Vehicles.
The US Naval Institute (10/28, Grady) reports that Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, speaking Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, discussed modernizing existing vehicles. Walsh said the Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey has “phenomenal capability.” However, Walsh adds that young Marines are “figuring out the concept on the fly. We don’t want to do that with the F-35,” referring to the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter.
Cyber Rifle Development Seen As Direction Procurement Needs To Go.
In an op-ed for War on the Rocks (10/29), Brent Chapman, Matt Hutchison and Erick Waage, members of the Army Cyber Institute at West Point’s Strategic Initiatives Group, writes about the development of the Cyber Capability Rifle, which was developed “in about 10 hours with about $150 of spare parts.” They say that its development “demonstrated the possibilities of unconventional thought and experimentation.”
GM Promises To Invest $1.9B In US Factories, Create 3,300 More Jobs.
Reuters (10/28, Woodall) reports that details of the contract between General Motors Co. and the United Auto Workers union that were released on Wednesday indicate that the company will invest another $1.9 billion in its US factories and create 3,300 more union jobs through those investments. The article adds that veteran and recently hired UAW workers will also see pay increases at GM’s US operations.
Northrop Grumman Beats Expectations Following Bomber Win.
The AP (10/28) reports that on Wednesday, Northrop Grumman announced a higher-than-expected profit, and an improved earnings forecast, during its third-quarter earnings report, a day after securing the winning bid to develop the next-generation long-range bomber jet for the US Air Force. For the quarter, company profits increased by 9 percent to $516 million, or $2.75 per share, with adjusted earnings of $2.41 per share, exceeding analyst expectations of $2.21 per share. In addition, corporate revenue held steady at $5.98 billion, above an expected $5.84 billion. Meanwhile, the company improved its full-year earnings outlook from $9.55-to-$9.70 per share to $9.70-to-$9.80 per share. Notably, the price of Northrop Grumman stock rose by 5.7 percent following the announcement, and is up 39 percent from the same period last year.
Reuters (10/28, Shalal, Ali) reports that CEO Wesley Bush said during the conference call that followed the earnings release that the company’s realignment is not meant as a split of the company’s services businesses. The company improved its 2015 revenue estimates from $23.4 billion-to-$23.8 billion to $23.6 billion-to-$23.8 billion. Operational income grew 3 percent, while margins rose from 12.9 percent to 13.3 percent on adjusted pension costs and a $21 million shrinking of corporate expenses.
MarketWatch (10/28, Cameron) added that Bush said during the conference call that the Northrop Grumman believes it still has capacity for major contracts even after the bomber contract. The article adds that Northrop is competing for the JSTARS program and built the UCLASS test drone for the Navy.
Bombardier Hurt By Decision To Compete With Boeing, Airbus.
Business Insider (10/28, Zheng) reports that Bombardier is struggling financially a decade after it began developing its C-Series to compete with Boeing’s 737 and Airbus’ A320. BI reports that “delays and cost overruns” with the C-Series, as well as a slowdown in orders, have left ratings agencies “worried about future cash flow, and the shares have fallen by two-thirds this year.” However, the article says Bombardier “is in talks about a possible order with JetBlue Airways” and “Another major buyer, according to Bloomberg, could be United Airlines, which told pilots it plans to order small jetliners.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Five States Sue EPA Over New Ozone Limit.
The Hill (10/29, Henry) reports the five states, led by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, have sued the EPA over its new ozone limits. “The lawsuit, released Tuesday, is the first filed against the standards by states,” The Hill reports, adding that “Brnovich questioned whether the EPA conducted an appropriate scientific review before issuing its new standard” of 70 parts per billion. Arkansas, New Mexico, North Dakota and Oklahoma joined Arizona in its lawsuit on Tuesday, The Hill adds.
NRC Says Fewer US Reactors Require In-Depth Seismic Safety Analyses.
In continuing coverage, Greenwire (10/28, Panko, Subscription Publication) reports the NRC announced that fewer US nuclear reactors “require in-depth seismic reviews than previously thought, allowing the agency to zero in on facilities facing the biggest risks.” In the wake of Japan’s 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster the NRC imposed a “number of safety orders,” including one requiring “that 33 plants conduct thorough analyses of seismic risks to their reactors.” After “initial reviews of the plants, the agency decided to exclude 12 reactors deemed to have low to moderate risk for seismic activity and focus its resources on more quickly evaluating the remaining 21 reactors at 20 plants.” That analysis is expected to be finished “one year earlier, by 2019.” Bill Dean, director of NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation said, “This outcome means both the NRC and industry can better focus their seismic expertise to work on the plants most in need of additional analysis.”
EU Panel Agrees On New Diesel Automobile Testing.
Reuters (10/28, Lewis) reports that European nations reached a compromise deal on new testing rules for diesel auto emissions on Wednesday. However, the deal still allows cars to emit more than twice the previously agreed-on pollution limits despite the Volkswagen scandal. The AP (10/28, Casert) reports that the European Union’s “executive Commission said Wednesday that the new tests will more closely resemble real road conditions. The agreement still needs the backing from the European Parliament.”
Governors Pressured To Devise Road Plans.
Bloomberg News (10/28, Niquette) reports that Governors, wary of anger about potholes and decaying roads and bridges, “are trying to open the financial floodgates as inadequate infrastructure becomes a prominent campaign issue across the United States.” As Congress looks to reauthorize the Federal Highway Trust Fund, states are asked to find solutions to the transit problem. Unions are also taking aim at politicians seeking reelection, slamming some for the lack of action in the face of deteriorating roads. In Louisiana, gubernatorial candidates have discussed the need for upgrades, albeit with no concrete plans on how they will raise funds to do so, said Ken Perret, a former FHWA official and president of the Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association in Baton Rouge.
NASA Funds Development Of Project-Based Science Curriculum.
The AP (10/29) reports on a $10 million NASA grant to fund improvements in science education. The project will be led by geography professor Kevin Czajkowski of the University of Toledo, and will produce “a project-based curriculum in science, technology, engineering and mathematics that fosters hands-on learning for younger students through problem-solving.”
Code. Org Offers Computer Training To Students In Kindergarten.
Roxanne Taylor, CMO of Accenture, writes at Fortune (10/28, Taylor) that the US “lacks graduates with technology skills,” and particularly among women, with the percentage of computer science degrees gained by women falling from “about 37%” to 18% over the last thirty years. That means, says Taylor, “there are just not enough women graduating with the science, technology, engineering and math skills needed.” She touts Girls Who Code and Code. Org as offering a way to combat that, with Code. Org reaching “students as early as kindergarten.”
Tennessee Students To Learn About Career Paths At Fair.
The Murfreesboro (TN) Daily News Journal (10/29, Willard) reports on the inaugural Rutherford County Career Day planned for Tuesday, during which 1,000 eighth-graders will “learn about the possible career paths open to them” in the county. Event organizer Jimmy Davis said the fair is designed to give students an “overall view” of possible career pathways, which schools spokesman James Evans said are key to the county’s Career Technical Education Program. “You can prepare yourself for a career through high school here. You don’t have to go to a two-year or even four-year school,” said Davis.
House Version Of No Child Left Behind Act Would Eliminate Largest Source Of Funding For Science Education.
NPR (10/28, Westervelt) reports the latest draft of the No Child Left Behind Act just passed by the House “eliminates the largest source of federal science education funding”, while the version currently pending in the Senate would expand federal funding for science education and after-school STEM programs. The article then quotes many education experts about the importance of STEM education and federal funding for it.
Wednesday’s Lead Stories
• Green Groups Move To Intervene In Defense Of Clean Power Plan.