Free trade, education: NEMA, IEEE ask Congress to act; energy bill to Senate

By Control Engineering Staff August 14, 2007

Rosslyn, VA, Washington, DC —The U.S. Congress continues to get prompting and encouragement on free trade, energy legislation, and science and technology competitiveness from industry advocates such as the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and IEEE-USA , an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.

NEMA is urging Congress to approve the pending legislation to open trade negotiations among the U.S. and the countries of South Korea, Panama, Peru, and Colombia. NEMA president and CEO Evan Gaddis says, “Eliminating trade barriers and extending the benefits of free trade are good for both our country and our foreign trading partners. Not only will this help our members build on the electrical equipment trade surpluses that we already enjoy with all four of those countries, it will provide trading partners with even better access to our top quality U.S. electrical equipment as they seek to further their economic development. End of June, NEMA National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) congratulated U.S. trade negotiators on the signing of the bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea and Panama, and called upon Congress to ratify the two FTAs as soon as possible.

In other news, NEMA applauded the passage of energy legislation by the House of Representatives, which, in a rare Saturday session, passed HR 3221 New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act (voted 441 to 172) and HR 2776 Renewable Energy and Conservation Tax Act of 2007 (voted 221-189). Mr. Gaddis added his commendation: “…We look forward to working on the legislation as it moves to a conference committee with the Senate. NEMA members are at the heart of our country’s energy solutions, which result in energy cost savings, provide a cleaner environment, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”

HR 3221 supports NEMA-backed provisions to create energy efficiency, including new federal energy conservation standards for premium efficiency electric motors, metal-halide lighting fixtures, incandescent reflector bulbs, and standby power. Additionally, provisions support the “smart” transmission and distribution grid, federal leadership in purchasing energy-efficient technologies, energy savings performance contracts, and high-performance green buildings.

HR 2776 contains NEMA-specific tax provisions to extend energy-efficient commercial building tax deductions through 2013, and five-year accelerated depreciation for advanced electricity meters.

Meanwhile, John Meredith, president of IEEE-USA, urged Congress to pass the conference report of the “America Competes Act” to bolster American leadership in science and technology and to promote U.S. competitiveness and innovation. He says, “We commend the conferees for recognizing the vital role that science and technology research and development plays in strengthening U.S. economic well being, energy independence, and national security.”

The Act would fund increases at elementary through graduate school levels in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and it would also increase funds to improve the skills of teachers of math and science, as well as provide college scholarships to future math and science teachers. The bill is expected to enable programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to get on track to double their budgets in the next decade.

Also read from Control Engineering : Awards: Congress’ support of technology recognized

In related news IEEE’s Meredith “calls on today’s engineers to bring the next generation of young people into the profession.”

— Edited by Barb Axelson , contributing editor Control Engineering Weekly News (

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