IAPMO’s view from the Hill, and the industry — July 15

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Dain HansenDain Hansen is vice president of Government Relations, The IAPMO Group. He lends his frequent perspective of Capitol Hill, and the plumbing industry.

Here is an edited version of his update July 15, 2016

Congressional Update.

IAPMO Delegation to Asia. Arun Kumar, Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the U.S. Commercial Service under Department of Commerce will lead IAPMO and eight other companies to the trade mission’s Singapore and Vietnam locations. Dain Hansen, IAPMO Senior Vice President of Government Relations, and Christopher Lindsay, Manager of IAPMO Government Relations, will represent IAPMO on the delegation. On the heals of IAPMO’s successful and continued work in Indonesia, our current work in the Philippines, and our past work in Vietnam, this trade delegation to the ASEAN region comes at the opportune time. With the water crisis throughout Southeast Asia, this is an important opportunity to meet with key ministries and stakeholders while providing IAPMO’s members and clients the path into such an important international market.

Solar, Battery Storage Approved By House Committee. Two bills that would create new Energy Department research programs focused on solar energy and electricity storage were approved this week by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. The Solar Fuels Innovation Act (H.R. 5638) would authorize $150 million a year annually for three years to create a Solar Fuels Basic Research Initiative focused on producing fuels like hydrogen and hydrocarbons using sunlight. The Electricity Storage Innovation Act (H.R. 5640) would authorize $150 million a year annually from 2017 to 2020 for the establishment of an Electricity Storage Basic Research Initiative focused on increasing the efficiency of battery storage and advanced battery technology. The legislation has drawn support from Yale University and other research universities, but the Energy Department raised significant concerns with some of the bill language specifically because the bills contain language that it would only fund “basic” research. Democratic amendments meant to address the department’s concerns by striking references to “basic” research in both bills failed. It remains unclear when the bills could be brought to the House floor.

Flying to Cuba. The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that eight U.S. airlines will be awarded new flights to Cuba as part of the normalizing of U.S.-Cuba relations. Most of the major airlines were involved in this competition and were awarded flights. The routes were awarded into Havana only. This is a big issue for the airlines and their allies in Congress but also a big deal for those lawmakers who oppose normalizing relations with Cuba. The airlines run the risk of alienating support from these lawmakers, much like Boeing’s pending deal with Iran on airplane purchases, which poses a reputational risk to that company. Some in Congress will try to stop the route approvals (with no success) late this summer or in the fall when DOT evaluates public comments it receives and finalizes these routes. Many of those lawmakers sought to visit Cuba last month to inspect the island’s airport security services but were denied entry, which has added some delicacy to the issue. Add this to the list of things lawmakers will argue over in the fall.

Industry Update.

Survey Says More Americans Worried About Water Infrastructure, Willing to Pay More. More Americans are concerned about aging water infrastructure in their communities than last year and they’re willing to spend more to make improvements, according to a new survey. Among the survey’s key findings, nearly half of Americans (48%) feel that not having easy, low-cost access to water is an issue that U.S. communities are facing today – compared to 39% of Americans surveyed last year. In addition, 67% of U.S. consumers are worried about the amount of water used to make everyday products like food, clothing and electronics. Last year, Americans believed their community’s water infrastructure would last an average of 16 more years. This year, that number dropped to 14 more years. Additionally, more than one in three (35%) Americans believe it will last less than five years. There is good news for the water sector, the survey shows that 68% of consumers feel their community should be spending more money to ensure its water infrastructure is well-maintained and properly functioning.

US Oil Reserves Surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia. According to a new study, the US holds more oil reserves than Saudi Arabia and Russia, the first time it has surpassed those held by the world’s biggest exporting nations. Rystad Energy estimates recoverable oil in the US from existing fields, discoveries and yet undiscovered areas amounts to 264bn barrels. The figure surpasses Saudi Arabia’s 212bn and Russia’s 256bn in reserves. “There is little potential for future surprises in many other countries, but in the US there is,” according to the Oslo-based group, noting recent discoveries in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, which is the nation’s most prolific oil producing area. More than half of the US’s remaining oil reserves are in unconventional shale oil with Texas alone holds more than 60bn barrels of shale oil. Although US shale oil has become more economical to produce — costs have halved over the past two years to below $40 a barrel in some instances — Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern producers still pump oil for less than $10 a barrel.

In Cities’ War Against Climate Change, Heating and Cooling of Building is a Key Battleground. New research from the International Energy Agency (IEA) confirms that cities represent 70 percent of the cost-effective emissions-reduction opportunities between now and 2050. About two-thirds of projected energy demand growth between now and 2050 will come from emerging and developing economies with an increasing amount being used to heat and cool buildings. It’s also an area rife with opportunity. The IEA report found that cities can reduce their heating and cooling demand by 25 percent without sacrificing comfort, through solutions such as solar-powered air conditioning. Cities can also tap into efficiency to curb power demands for heating and cooling by scaling up energy-efficient building practices and policies.

All of Dain Hansen’s full updates can be seen in their entirety in the RPA newsletter. Become a proud member of the RPA and reap the many benefits it provides for the radiant and hydronics industry. For more information, please visit http://www.radiantprofessionalsalliance.org/Pages/Join.aspx

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