Leading the News
Appeals Court Rules EPA Cannot Delay Enforcement Of Rule On Oil And Gas Emissions.
The Washington Post (7/3, Eilperin, Mufson) reports a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in a 2-1 decision, ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency’s “two-year suspension of new emission standards on oil and gas wells,” is “tantamount to amending or revoking a rule.” The court ruled that the EPA may “reconsider” the rule developed under the Obama Administration, but may not delay the rule for two years while it does so. EPA spokeswoman Amy Graham said that the agency is “reviewing the opinion.” The New York Times (7/3, Friedman, Subscription Publication) calls the ruling “another legal blow to the Trump administration” and “the first major legal setback for” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The court found that the delay was “unreasonable,” “arbitrary” and “capricious” and that changing the rule would require “a new rule-making process.”
The AP (7/3, Biesecker) reports the court “ordered the EPA to move forward” with the rule as is. The Washington Times (7/3, Wolfgang) reports the decision “dealt a blow to President Trump.” The Washington Examiner (7/3, Siciliano) reports it “slammed the brakes” on the Administration’s “attempt to kill the Environmental Protection Agency’s methane regulations on oil and gas frackers instituted under former President Barack Obama.” Pruitt had argued the Obama Administration did not allow for adequate industry comment on the, but the court “disagreed.”
SEC Settles ITT Fraud Case, Still Investigating Executives.
The Washington Post (7/3, Douglas-Gabriel) reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission has settled a case that accused ITT Educational Services of “false and misleading statements about the failure of two in-house student-loan programs.” Nevertheless, the SEC is still pursuing “top executives from the defunct for-profit college firm for allegedly deceiving investors about high rates of late payments and defaults on student loans backed by the firm.” The article notes that last September, the firm closed all of its ITT Technical Institutes schools “after the Education Department curtailed its access to federal loans and grants when an accrediting body threatened to pull the school’s accreditation amid mounting lawsuits and investigations.”
Maryland Bans Scholarship Displacement By Public Colleges.
The Baltimore Sun (7/4, Prudente) reports that after a two-year campaign by nonprofit Central Scholarship, which “provides scholarships and interest-free loans to Maryland students,” the state has passed a law making it the first “to ban scholarship displacement by public colleges.” The piece explains that colleges often reduce students’ financial aid by an amount equal to scholarships or other outside aid secured by students. The new law “limits the conditions under which institutions may decrease financial aid, allowing reductions when a student’s aid exceeds the cost of college or with permission from a scholarship provider.”
Research and Development
Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation Corporation Developing Components For Zero-Emission Car.
The Globe and Mail (CAN) (7/4, Dwyer) reports that “Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation Corp., which is based in Burnaby, B.C., was founded as a joint venture in 2008 by three companies: Germany’s Daimler AG, the Ford Motor Co., and automotive fuel-cell power systems developer Ballard Power Systems Inc. Five years later, Ford bought out Ballard’s 19.9-per-cent share.” The Globe and Mail adds, “Setting up the new company in Burnaby was an obvious choice, with surrounding universities working on green technology.” The article quotes the company’s Senior Manager of Stack Engineering Robert Artibise saying, “The area is kind of like the Silicon Valley of hydrogen fuel-cell development. Canada has been a world leader in these green technologies since 2008.”
Biological Engineering Seen Offering Safer, More Effective Methods Of Mosquito Population Control.
TIME (6/30) features an article about how to fight the Zika virus without insecticide and highlights several methods of biological engineering that reduce mosquito populations, including naled, which TIME notes is “currently used in the United States by many local governments and mosquito control districts besides Miami, including the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, the Lee County Mosquito Control District, and Puerto Rico.” However, the article draws attention to a Pew Research Center study that found that “about half of Americans who are aware of genetic modification believe that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could create problems for the environment and lead to health problems for the population as a whole.” The article concludes, “We have an opportunity to get ahead of future public health crises by shifting to biologically modified mosquito control. Fear of change and confusion over safe techniques for modifying nature when she is out to kill us should not leave us using last century’s technology to fight this century’s mosquito-borne diseases.”
3D Printing May Allow Pre-Implantation Testing Of Prosthetic Heart Valves, Research Suggests.
HealthImaging (7/3, Pearson) reported some patients suffering from blood leakage after having “a heart valve replaced with a prosthetic…may benefit by getting their new valves tested, pre-implantation, via 3D ‘printouts’ of their unique valvular tissue rendered from standard heart imaging…according to a feature article posted by Georgia Tech.” The printouts “would give interventionalists control over patient- and design-specific variables that might cause the prosthetic valves to leak following transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).”
DARPA To Launch Experiment On Indian Rocket After Spaceflight Delays.
Space News (7/3, Henry, Subscription Publication) reports that the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is seeking a partnership with the Indian Space Research Organization to launch its EXCITE satlet on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle after repeated delays on the project by Seattle-based Spaceflight. Jeremy Palmer, program manager for DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said that the agency believes that it will be able to obtain a waiver on regulations that prohibit those launches to be done using foreign vehicles. “That is a continuing challenge but we feel that challenge is surmountable,” he said. The EXCITE mission is intended to “demonstrate the ability to build a satellite bus like a biological cellular system, using the satlets to form a unique bus around a payload, such as a sensor.”
Mars Colony Would Likely Be Powered By Nuclear Energy.
The International Business Times (7/3, Glowatz) reported that NASA is working with the US Department of Energy to develop small nuclear reactors capable of powering life systems for a base on Mars. Testing for the technology is planned for later this year. Lee Mason, the head of power and energy storage technology development at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, said that the power systems sent to Mars so far would not sustain systems for human life. Solar power is not viable because Mars receives significantly less light than Earth does.
Study: STEM Skills Applicable Beyond STEM Industries
USA Today (6/30, Swartz) reported that “a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research strongly suggests critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving skills often associated with science, tech and math is transferable to any industry.” The NBER paper argues that “a deeper understanding of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) is tied to a more productive overall workforce – not just STEM industries,” USA Today wrote. The article suggested that the finding “could mean good news for regions struggling with unemployment – especially if programs like Project Lead The Way, the nation’s leading provider of STEM curriculum, produce enough graduates.”
Germany Struggling To Popularize Hydrogen Fuel.
The New York Times (7/4, Reed, Subscription Publication) reports Germany is moving aggressively forward by testing a range of clean energy initiatives, including hydrogen fuel. Over the past decade, the German government, Shell, Daimler and Air Liquide have invested €1.4 billion to develop hydrogen fuel. In Hamburg, the investments have built a small network of filling stations, encouraged road trials of hydrogen-powered buses, and funded research. Despite the investments, the ventures have not yet been a commercial success. Developing hydrogen has suffered from a number of setbacks, including the availability of vehicles and charging stations, the cost, and a continuing perception problem. Thomas Bystry, who is in charge of Shell’s hydrogen filling stations in Germany, said hydrogen is no more dangerous than gasoline.
Automakers Shedding Workers Amid Declining Sales.
The New York Times (7/4, A1, Vlasic, Subscription Publication) reports that after “two years of record sales, the American auto industry is slowing down, with fewer buyers in dealer showrooms and fewer workers on the factory floor.” This week, automakers said that sales June sales declined “for a sixth consecutive month, falling by 3 percent from a year ago, a trend that analysts do not see letting up anytime soon.” Amid the falling demand, auto-assembly plants, which “hit a peak of 211,000 workers” last year, have seen a drop in workers of “more than 2 percent so far this year, to 206,000 workers in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and could shrink further as sales continue to fall.”
Automakers Shedding Workers Amid Declining Sales.
The New York Times (7/4, A1, Vlasic, Subscription Publication) reports on its front page that after “two years of record sales, the American auto industry is slowing down, with fewer buyers in dealer showrooms and fewer workers on the factory floor.” This week, automakers said that sales June sales declined “for a sixth consecutive month, falling by 3 percent from a year ago, a trend that analysts do not see letting up anytime soon.” Amid the falling demand, auto-assembly plants, which “hit a peak of 211,000 workers” last year, have seen a drop in workers of “more than 2 percent so far this year, to 206,000 workers in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and could shrink further as sales continue to fall.”
The AP (7/3, Krisher) reports the auto market is cooling down despite low unemployment, increased consumer confidence, low energy prices, and historically low interest rates. Still, “auto executives and industry analysts say it’s no cause for panic,” the AP says, as “sales are still strong and aren’t expected to plunge anytime soon.” While sales of smaller vehicles have dropped, larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs are still selling well in the US, and “sales are falling largely because people who delayed car and truck purchases in the years since the Great Recession have bought new ones, says Jessica Caldwell, executive director of analysis for Edmunds.com.”
The AP (7/3, Krisher) reports in another story that Ford, General Motors, and Hyundai led in annual sales declines, with Ford selling 5.1 percent fewer vehicles in June of this year compared to 2016, GM 4.7 percent fewer vehicles, and Hyundai 19.2 percent fewer. The shift in consumer preference toward larger vehicles “is good news for companies that rely heavily on pickup trucks and SUVs,” though, “such as Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler.”
US Denies Visas To Gambia Students Seeking To Attend Robotics Tournament.
The AP (7/4, Petesch) reports that the US “has denied visas to five teenage students from Gambia competing in a prestigious international robotics contest in” Washington, DC. The piece notes that an all-girl team from Afghanistan was also denied visas to take part in the annual FIRST Global robotics tournament. First Global President Joe Sestak “said he has already promised to the Gambia and Afghanistan teams that they will be Skyping into the competition as the robots are presented.”
George Mason Summer Camp Encourages STEM Focus For Female Students.
The Washington Post (7/3, Larimer) reported on a summer camp program called FOCUS, based at George Mason University, which “centers on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM, disciplines in which women have traditionally been underrepresented.” The Post added, “FOCUS, which stands for ‘females of color and those underrepresented in STEM,’ drew a diverse group of clever campers to Mason’s Fairfax campus,” and its participants “were met by a diverse group of counselors and organizers, eager to show what a future in STEM could be.” The article also stated that “of about 100 participants, 44 percent were African American, 20 percent Asian American, 13 percent Hispanic, 6 percent of Middle Eastern descent and 4 percent white,” and added that “the camp, sponsored by Mason’s STEM Accelerator program in collaboration with the nonprofit Girls Inspired & Ready to Lead, is open to rising 6th, 7th and 8th grade students.”
Scientist Says Infrastructure Spending Must Include Scientific Infrastructure.
In the Minneapolis Star Tribune (7/3), materials scientist Olle Heinonen calls for investment in the US scientific infrastructure to “boost the economy, strengthen our competitiveness and increase job growth.” Heinonen writes that investments in education and research led Minnesota to become the home of companies such as Medtronic, 3M, Ecolab, St. Jude Medical and ADC Telecommunications. Heinonen urges Rep. Erik Paulsen to “take the necessary steps to ensure that the president includes science in his infrastructure plan.”
Measure Cutting Funding For CTE, College Prep Programs Advances In Oregon Legislature.
The AP (7/3, Hansen) reports that under a bill passed by the Oregon house on Monday, “high school students may get $170 million over the next two school years to spend on career-technical education, college-prep and other programs designed to help pull graduation rates from the nation’s bottom ranks.” The piece notes this constitutes a 42% decrease in funding to programs under the state’s Measure 98.
Atlanta Summer Program Introduces African-American Students To STEM.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (7/4) reports the Summer Engineering Experience for Kids, or SEEK, at Atlanta’s Ivy Preparatory Academy “teaches engineering not only though building workshops, but also through art and fun activities.” Concerns about the lack of African-American engineers and scientists prompted the National Society of Black Engineers to establish SEEK, and Ivy Prep hosts one of only 16 such programs in the nation. The Journal-Constitution notes a 2003 National Center for Education Statistics study found “only 5 percent of master’s degrees and 2 percent of doctoral degrees are awarded to African-Americans in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, disciplines.” The NSBE is hoping that with SEEK and other incentives, 10,000 black students will graduate with engineering bachelor’s degrees by 2025.
Also in the News
SpaceX Rocket Launch Called Off 10 Seconds Before Launch.
CBS News (7/2, Harwood) reports that “the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a powerful communications satellite was called off just 10 seconds before blastoff Sunday because of an apparent glitch in the rocket’s guidance and navigation system.” SpaceX has “planned to make a second attempt Monday, assuming the problem can be fixed in time.”
SPACE (7/2, Lewin) reports that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Principal Integration Engineer John Insprucker said, “This is a computer abort that happened at T-minus 10 seconds where we’re looking at the status of the guidance system and the flight hardware that supports it. It appears that something was out of limits. The computer stopped the countdown before we got into the engine-ignition sequence.”
Monday’s Lead Stories
• Ford Executive Touts “Great Progress” Made On Driverless Cars.
• Indiana’s Hanover College Will No Longer Require Applicant SAT, ACT Scores.
• James Madison University Repurposes Medical Particle Accelerator For Research.
• Indiana Agriculture Sector Lacks Workers With STEM Skills.
• Trump Revives National Space Council, Will Be Led By Pence.
• Afghan Girls Competing In Robotics Challenge Despite Obstacles.