December 15, 2015
In a House Committee on Natural Resources hearing on the Department of the Interior’s role in the Animas River spill, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell indicated support for strengthening engineering standards in her agency. The spill was caused by a blowout at the Gold King Mine in Colorado. At the December 9 hearing, Rep. Bruce Westerman, P.E.
December 10, 2015
On December 10, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law, replacing the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The new education law is significant because NSPE has long advocated key provisions of the Educating Tomorrow’s Engineers Act, which are incorporated into the Every Student Succeeds Act. In particular, the bill includes a funding provision allowing states to refine their science assessments by integrating engineering design skills and practices for the first time. In addition, more flexible funding grants will allow states and school districts to utilize federal funds for teacher professional development and high quality instruction in engineering. NSPE commends Congress for acknowledging the need for more engineering instruction at all levels of education. The bill was passed in the House by a vote of 359 to 64 and was also overwhelmingly approved in the Senate by an 85 to 12 margin.
December 7, 2015
On December 5, President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act into law. The conference report was approved overwhelmingly in the House of Representatives by a vote of 359-65 and an equally impressive tally of 83-16 in the Senate. A comprehensive five year/$305 billion surface transportation authorization, this law is the culmination of a decade of 36 short-term extensions. NSPE has long urged Congress to pass a long-term infrastructure bill. The passage of the FAST Act will enable PEs to properly plan, design, implement, construct, operate and maintain our nation's infrastructure systems without lurching from one-short-term extension to another. NSPE lauds Congress for finally enacting a long-term bill that will benefit the public health, safety and welfare.
December 2, 2015
On December 1, NSPE and the California Society of Professional Engineers (CSPE) submitted a letter to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (CDMV), which has been charged with creating the first state-level regulations for fully autonomous vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to issue regulations for fully autonomous vehicles. Therefore, these regulations, which were due nearly a year ago from the CDMV, will be the first in the nation.
December 1, 2015
In response to a request from the ABET Board of Directors for input into their current environmental scanning and strategic planning process, NSPE provided written input on November 24 on key policy and planning issues facing engineering education accreditation. Addressing anticipated changes in the expected knowledge, skills, and abilities for new technical graduates entering engineering, NSPE reminded ABET of NSPE’s Engineering Body of Knowledge, which identifies 30 capabilities that an individual must know and possess to responsibly practice professional engineering.
November 12, 2015
On November 12, NSPE-PAC Chairman Jeff Elliott, P.E., F.NSPE sent an e-mail to all NSPE members emphasizing the value and importance of NSPE-PAC, the ONLY PAC dedicated solely to promoting the professional engineer. With the 2016 election season kicking into full gear, Chairman Elliott pointed out that despite challenges in Congress in recent years, due to NSPE's devoted membership, proactive advocacy efforts, and your continued support of NSPE-PAC, NSPE has been able to influence Congress on critically important issues such as drinking water infrastructure, a long-term transportation bill, and the need for licensed PEs to work on federal engineering projects, as demonstrated by the recent Gold King Mine blowout. Learn more about NSPE-PAC and contribute today.
The Gold King Mine disaster and an Ohio bill that requires engineers to make ethics part of their mandatory continuing education underscore the PE’s role in protecting the public health, safety, and welfare. Listen now.
November 11, 2015
On November 9, NSPE President Tim Austin, P.E., F.NSPE, sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and the Department of the Interior’s Secretary Sally Jewell urging them to strengthen federal engineering standards by mandating the role of the licensed professional engineer in federal engineering projects. The letter was sent in response to the Department of the Interior’s technical assessment of the Gold King Mine blowout, which found that the EPA could have prevented the blowout that resulted in a three-million gallon toxic-spill.
November 9, 2015
On November 4, NSPE successfully secured full support from the American Association of Engineering Societies to endorse NSPE’s recommended changes to the World Federation of Engineering Organizations’ proposed Model Code of Practice. At its core, this is a thoughtful document on an important issue: how to address the increasing challenges posed by climate change to infrastructure resiliency. However, the standards and provisions within the draft document could establish a new standard of care for professional engineers that far exceeds their existing duties and responsibilities.
October 28, 2015
On October 22, the Department of the Interior released the findings of its independent investigation of the Gold King Mine blowout on August 5. The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) led the technical evaluation and coordinated with the Army Corps of Engineers and US Geological Survey for peer review of the work performed by the bureau. The evaluation team included six engineers, four of them licensed professional engineers.
The findings revealed that the blowout could have been prevented with the proper engineering expertise. However, federal standards of practice for reopening and remediating flooded inactive and abandoned mines are inconsistent from one agency to another. Various guidelines exist for this type of work, but there is little in actual written requirements that government agencies must follow when reopening an abandoned mine.