Science & Technology
Senators Seek Two-Year Extension of Wind-Energy Tax Credit PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 19 March 2012 14:45

WASHINGTON – Senators Chuck Grassley, Mark Udall, Scott Brown, Tom Harkin, Dean Heller, Ron Wyden, and Michael Bennet today proposed a two-year extension of the wind energy production tax credit scheduled to expire at the end of the year.

 

The bipartisan proposal would prevent a lapse in the credit.  Without an extension, as many as 37,000 jobs nationwide could be lost.  The senators hope to have the extension passed as quickly as possible in order to provide tax certainty for the renewable energy sector.

 

“Tax reform efforts might modify or address this incentive in the near future, but the jobs and opportunities provided by wind energy should not be abandoned in the meantime.  And limiting the bill’s impact on the deficit can be addressed,” Grassley said.  “Tax relief has succeeded in developing this clean, renewable and innovative energy source, and it ought to be continued with the degree of certainty that encourages continued investment.  Unemployment remains high at 8.3 percent and energy costs are on the rise.  Congress should renew the wind energy tax credit to develop clean energy alternatives and good paying jobs.”

 

“Extending the wind energy tax credit is a move that can give Coloradans and Americans a great return on investment - a stronger economy, more local jobs and more affordable power for our homes,” Udall said.  “With employers like Vestas willing to invest in Colorado, Congress needs to act well before the deadline and give these employers certainty to plan ahead - otherwise those jobs will move to other countries.  Failing to extend the production tax credit for wind energy will threaten the industry's growth and Colorado jobs, and I'll continue to push my colleagues for a better solution where Colorado keeps our jobs.”

 

“I believe in an all of the above approach to America’s energy challenges.  The extension of these tax credits will help make sure that we continue to diversify our energy supplies over the long term,” Brown said.

“Congress must extend the production tax credit for wind, which is essential for continuing the expansion of one of Iowa’s most exciting sectors and creating and preserving jobs in our state,” Harkin said.   “I am pleased to partner with Senator Grassley on this focused bill and will do everything I can to see it approved by Congress.”

 

“Nevada has vast potential for renewable energy development.  Not only is it a clean source of energy, but it can also create thousands of jobs in the process.   The growing energy demand in our country requires that we find innovative solutions for our nation’s energy needs.  Renewable energy development as a part of a broader energy strategy will ensure our nation has a diverse and secure energy future,” Heller said.

 

“Wind energy is one of the fastest growing and most promising sectors of the energy industry providing for thousands of jobs in Oregon and nationwide,” Wyden said. “The existing production tax credit has given the renewable energy industry an important tool to grow and its expiration could put the future innovation of wind resources and other forms of renewable energy at risk.  Companies on the cutting edge deserve to have some certainty in their tax treatment and extending this tax credit will help them to compete against non-renewable energy sources and continue the success we’ve seen over the last decade.”

 

“The wind energy tax credit has been a huge plus for Colorado.  It has helped create jobs and advance a diversified energy portfolio,” Bennet said.  “This tax credit has bipartisan support, and Colorado companies are counting on us to get it across the finish line.  Congress should act now.”

 

Today, the wind industry supports 75,000 American jobs and drives as much as $20 billion in private investment.  During the last five years, 35 percent of all new electric generation in the United States was wind.  This expansion has directly led to the growth in domestic wind manufacturing.  There are nearly 400 manufacturing facilities today, compared with just 30 in 2004.

 

Grassley authored and won enactment of the first-ever wind production tax credit in 1992.  The incentive was designed to give wind energy the ability to compete against coal-fired and nuclear energy and helped to launch the wind energy industry.

 

The bill introduced today is titled the American Energy and Job Promotion Act.

 

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Strengthening Cybersecurity, Legislation Introduced PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Sen. Chuck Grassley   
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 08:33

Proposal strengthens information sharing and encourages private sector innovation

 

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dan Coats (R-IN), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Richard Burr (R-NC) today introduced the Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information, and Technology Act (SECURE IT), their proposal to protect and secure our nation against cybersecurity attacks.

 

“The SECURE IT Act strengthens America’s cybersecurity by promoting collaboration and information-sharing, updating our criminal laws to account for the growing cyber threat and enhancing research programs to protect our critical networks,” said Senator John McCain. “This legislation will help us begin to meet the very real threat of cyber attack.”

 

“We are all in agreement that we need to make our nation’s cybersecurity a top priority. I believe we have come up with a strong common sense approach that will help prevent the spread of cyberattacks from network to network and across the Internet, by removing barriers to sharing information about threats, attacks, and strategies for improvement,” Senator Hutchison said.  “Our bill focuses on giving businesses the tools they need to protect themselves from the looming threat of cyber criminals, and increased requirements for notification of threats to federal agencies.”

 

“As our nation faces increasing cyber attacks in a critical economic environment, we must ensure that the private sector has the authority it needs to defend its own networks and share cyber threat information to prevent future attacks,” Senator Chambliss said. “Now is not the time for Congress to be adding more government, more regulation, and more debt – especially when it is far from clear that any of it will enhance our security. Our bill offers the right solution to improving our nation’s cybersecurity by encouraging collaboration, investment, and innovation.”

“Our bill represents a new way forward in protecting the American people and the country’s cyber infrastructure from attack.  It’s a bill that can be supported by all partners that have an interest in cybersecurity. Instead of the heavy hand of the government, our approach promotes information sharing and keeps the taxpayers’ wallets close,” said Senator Grassley.

 

“Rather than arming Homeland Security with expansive new regulatory authority over every sector of our economy, the SECURE IT cyber bill we’ve introduced today emphasizes a partnership approach between the government and private entities. By focusing on those areas like information sharing where bipartisan agreement is achievable, we can tackle the cyber issue in a meaningful and constructive way,” said Sen. Murkowski.

 

“After September 11, we broke down the barriers to information sharing and provided our intelligence and law enforcement professionals with the tools they need to keep us safe.  Today, we must break down similar barriers that exist in cyber security to respond to the increasing number of attacks against private companies and the federal government,” said Senator Coats. “The SECURE IT Act will enable robust information sharing without creating costly layers of government bureaucracy or imposing new regulatory burdens on American businesses.”

 

“This bill recognizes that industry is at the center of any solution. It's a sensible step forward that allows industry to invest in innovation and job creation rather than compliance. Imposing a costly and bureaucratic regulatory regime is the wrong approach to national security. New regulations will slow down innovation and investment while companies wait years for the government to introduce outdated standards,” said Sen. Johnson. “The regulatory process simply cannot keep up with the rapid pace of technology.”

 

“Cyber security is essential to our national security, and this bill takes a step in the right direction to ensure that our nation has the proper defenses in place to address threats to our nation’s systems and infrastructure.   This bill takes fiscally responsible measures to protect against cyber threats by enhancing research and development, updating enforcement tools and penalties to reflect current threats, and promoting voluntary information sharing between the public and private sector without creating unnecessary bureaucracy or regulations,” said Senator Burr.

 

Co-sponsors of the proposal are U.S. Sens. John McCain, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Saxby Chambliss, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Lisa Murkowski, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Dan Coats, Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, and Ron Johnson, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, and Richard Burr, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

 

The SECURE IT Act will:

 

·         Improve cybersecurity by collaborating with industry and eliminating barriers to enhanced information sharing.

 

·         Create expedited information sharing for private sector using existing structures and reporting relationships.

 

·         Require federal contractors who provide telecommunications or cybersecurity services for the federal government to report to the government cyber threat information related to those services.

 

·         Strengthen criminal statutes for cyber crimes.

 

·         Update the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and preserve the roles of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Commerce in disseminating security standards for the federal government.

 

·         Leverage and strengthen existing programs in cybersecurity research and development.

 

Here is a copy of the text of Grassley’s statement at today’s press conference.

 

The group you see here today saw a need to develop cybersecurity protections that focused on avoiding new federal government bureaucracies, reforming existing programs, and not adding additional, burdensome regulations that may stifle innovation and growth in the private sector.

 

We felt the best approach was to focus on strengthening Cybersecurity defenses. We do this by coordinating the public and private sectors to work together.  Creating a collaborative partnership between the private sector and the federal government will foster an information sharing system that helps detect, eliminate, and prevent cyber threats.  Our legislation is something that all partners involved in protecting our cyber networks can fully stand behind.

 

As the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, I have focused my involvement on the criminal law provisions, legal barriers to information sharing, civil liberty and privacy protections, as well as whistleblower protections.

 

Our bill will break down the legal barriers, such as antitrust and liability issues.  In the past, these barriers prohibited business and industry from sharing cyber threat information with the government or industry partners.  The bill includes provisions to ensure that confidentiality and personal privacy are engrained in the information sharing.  It also includes a provision ensuring that no preexisting whistleblower protection law is changed by this legislation.  We also update criminal statutes and streamline the existing, confusing penalty structure in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.  And, it reins in prosecutions.  These prosecutions have raised concerns by advocates on both sides of the political spectrum.  If left unchanged, they could lead to average citizens being prosecuted as federal felons.

 

Beyond the Judiciary Committee provisions, and very importantly, our legislation adheres to our core principle of keeping the government’s regulatory reach out of the private sector.  We avoid complicated regulatory regimes that will stifle innovation and job growth.

 

Our approach has been laid out for many months.  It achieves consensus and can gain the support of many Senators.

 

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Build the best password to secure your online identity. PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Mozilla Firefox   
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 08:50
It seems like there are never enough hours in the day or days in the month. Lucky for you, we get a bonus day this year! Why not put it to good use and make sure your passwords are as safe and secure as possible (that'll come in handy all year long). We've got some great tips on how to do that in this month's newsletter, plus three other things you can do with Firefox on this February 29. We'll also tell you about the awesomeness that is the Awesome Screen on Android tablets and show you how Firefox can make you extra happy. And that's on top of our regular, newslettery goodness!

 
Connect Iowa Releases Report on Senior Citizen Technology Use PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Jessica Ditto   
Monday, 27 February 2012 15:03

Low Broadband Adoption Threatens to Separate Seniors from Critical Services

Des Moines, IA – Today, Connect Iowa is releasing a new report focusing on technology adoption and use by Iowa’s senior citizens. The report, titled Iowa’s Silent Generation: Resilient, More Experienced, but Disconnected, gives an in-depth look at the challenges Iowa seniors face in embracing the technology that can deeply impact their quality of life. Lack of broadband adoption is particularly alarming as a growing number of services and opportunities migrate online.

High-speed Internet is becoming increasingly important for access to government services, healthcare resources, and countless other personal tasks like banking, shopping, and communicating with family and friends. The issue of elderly technology adoption is especially important in Iowa because the state has the sixth largest share of residents over the age of 70 in the nation, but the senior broadband adoption rate is slightly below the national average.

The new Connect Iowa research shows:

  • While nearly three out of four Iowans (72%) age 18-54 subscribe to home broadband service, only 63% of Iowans age 55-69 subscribe to broadband.
  • A mere 27% of Iowans age 70 and older subscribe to broadband.
  • Approximately 260,000 elderly Iowans (age 70 and older) are not benefiting from broadband.
  • 47% of Iowans age 70+ (approximately 169,000) do not own a computer.

Iowa’s elderly technology statistics grow even more troublesome when factors like disabilities, living alone, or living in rural areas are taken into consideration. The report also found a disturbing “gray gap” when looking at the number of seniors who make use of mobile broadband technology through devices like smart phones and digital tablets.

The new report sheds light on the many barriers seniors point to for not using broadband. Thirty-nine percent say they simply don’t understand how broadband is relevant to their lives; 24% say digital literacy is their problem and they don’t know how to use a computer or the Internet. However, of those Iowans over age 70 who do subscribe to home Internet service, 56% say they go online on a daily basis.

“Broadband offers Iowa’s senior citizens new power and independence,” says Connect Iowa Program Manager Amy Kuhlers. “With an interactive link to family and friends, as well as increased access to healthcare information and services, broadband is empowering them to live more independently while enabling them to engage more fully with society.”

Connect Iowa is actively working to bridge the technology “gray gap” in Iowa to ensure all seniors have access to the life-enhancing and lifesaving applications and services made possible by a home broadband subscription. Increasing broadband usage among these Iowans now can help many Iowans live longer, healthier, more independent lives.

Anyone with an interest in bringing better broadband to local homes and businesses is encouraged to join in the Connect Iowa community planning effort. For more information on how to get involved, please contact Amy Kuhlers at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 515-421-2561.

# # #

About Connect Iowa: Connect Iowa is a subsidiary of Connected Nation and operates as a nonprofit in the state of Iowa to promote broadband access, adoption, and use. The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) is leading the initiative to increase broadband Internet access throughout rural Iowa. Connect Iowa was commissioned by the state to work with all broadband providers in Iowa to create detailed maps of broadband coverage and develop a statewide plan for the deployment and adoption of broadband. For more information visit: www.connectiowa.org.

 
Iowa Setting the Standard for Small Wind PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Elisha Smith   
Friday, 24 February 2012 10:00

By Johnathan Hladik, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Center for Rural Affairs

Proponents of renewable energy across the nation are applauding recent efforts by five Iowa lawmakers to provide an economic incentive for small-scale wind and solar producers. Already a leader in wind energy, Iowa is quickly becoming a model state for clean, domestic, and affordable energy production.

Introduced last week, Senate File 225 encourages the development of renewable power generation by providing a guaranteed payment for each kilowatt hour generated over a period of 20 years. This policy mechanism is referred to as a feed-in tariff, a method used in over 40 countries across the world and cited as the primary reason for successful renewable energy markets abroad.

SF 225 implements a policy where the actual payment per kilowatt hour varies, depending on the technology used to generate electricity, project size, and quality of the resource used, such as average wind speed. In other words, not all projects will be treated alike.

To qualify, each project must be in Iowa and program participation is limited to projects with a majority of ownership within Iowa. Qualifying projects must be less than 20 megawatts in size.

By opening the door to cost effective distributed generation, feed-in tariffs allow citizens to meet energy needs with locally produced electricity. By encouraging the development of customer owned renewable energy, feed-in tariffs eliminate the need for large scale wind development and render costly transmission projects unnecessary. By encouraging energy independence, this bill paves the way for rural economic development throughout Iowa and sets a new standard nationwide.

 
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