Kilmer announces STEM competition for local high school students

Representative Derek Kilmer today invited high school students from Washington’s 6th Congressional District to participate in the first annual Congressional Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academic Competition, “The House STEM App Challenge.” This new nationwide competition is designed to engage students’ creativity and encourage their participation in STEM education fields. Local high school students will compete against other students in the 6th Congressional District by creating and exhibiting a software application or “app” for mobile, table, or computer devices on a platform of their choice.


Students can submit their apps for consideration between Saturday, February 1 at 12 p.m. eastern time and Wednesday April 30 at 12 p.m eastern time. For additional details on how to participate, please see below or visit


Throughout the completion period, participating students will be provided opportunities to engage with various STEM educational partners located throughout the community to mentor and assist them with their app development.  Students entering the competition must provide a YouTube video demo explaining their app and what they learned through this competition process.


The submitted apps will be judged by an appointed panel of individuals within the academic, software and entrepreneurial fields.  The winning student’s app in each participating congressional district will be featured on the U.S. House of Representatives’ website (, as well as on display in a U.S. Capitol exhibit.


Representative Kilmer said, “As a dad of two little girls who will one day be entering a workforce that needs skilled workers, and as a guy with a background in economic development, I know the increasing role technology is playing in the economy. We should always look for more opportunities to engage young people about the value of a STEM education. I’m looking forward to seeing the innovative apps created by students in our region.”


Hadi Partovi, Co-founder and CEO of said, “Increased education in STEM and computer science is essential to the future of our country. Every student, not just the ones who want to pursue a career in technology, will benefit from a broad understanding of the science and especially the computer technology that powers the world around us.”


Charles Keating, President of West Sound Technology Association said, “Programming and technology skills are as important as math, reading and writing for brain function lateralization and a 21st century economy. Everything from cake decorating to building houses will increasingly leverage technology, and students will need to be prepared for jobs that are quickly evolving.’s ‘Hour of Code’ initiative sparked tremendous interest, and events like the app contest will continue to build on momentum while engaging students.”


Karen Burns, a Teacher-Librarian at Gig Harbor High School said, “I am a firm believer in students getting the opportunity to use technology to create products. Technology is a wonderful tool for students in many areas of the school curriculum, but it is the higher order thinking skills that students can apply to projects such as this House App Contest that bring learning through technology to fruition.”




  • The contest is open to high school students who reside in Washington’s 6th Congressional District.


  • Participants may compete individually or in groups of up to 4 students.


o   For groups of 2 students at least 1 must reside in the Washington’s 6th Congressional District.

o   For groups of 3-4 students at least 2 must reside in the Washington’s 6th Congressional District.



  • Students may submit their entries between the dates of February 1, 2014 at 12PM eastern time to April 30, 2014 12PM eastern time.


  • To submit an entry:


o   After February 1, 2014 create an account on and register for the House Student App Contest.

o   Create an App Demonstration Video of no more than 2 minutes that demonstrates the scope and quality of the app.

o   Create a Developer Video of no more than 1 minute in which the participant describes how they created the app and what they learned.

o   Upload both videos to YouTube or VIMEO and submit the links through

o   Submit an entry form through


  • Entries will be judged on:

o   Quality of the idea (including creativity and originality).

o   Implementation of the idea (including user experience and design).

o   Demonstrated excellence of coding and programming skills.


  • The winning app will be featured on the US House of Representatives website and Representative Derek Kilmer’s website and will also be on display in a US Capitol exhibit.


  • For more information please contact Rohan in Representative Kilmer’s office at (360) 373-9725.

Coalition cheers Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2014

QUILCENE, Wash. (Jan. 17) A broad and diverse coalition of Olympic Peninsula community members cheered the introduction today of the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2014 by Representative Derek Kilmer and Senator Patty Murray.  The measure, similar to that introduced in the last Congress, by Senator Murray and former Congressman Norm Dicks would permanently protect more than 126,000 acres of ancient and mature forests on Olympic National Forest as wilderness and 19 Olympic Peninsula rivers and their major tributaries as Wild and Scenic.

“Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer deserve tremendous thanks for working to ensure that our beloved Olympic Peninsula will be here for our grandchildren,” said Connie Gallant, chair of the Quilcene-based Wild Olympics Coalition. “This landmark legislation will protect the Olympic Peninsula’s ancient forests, free-flowing rivers and stunning scenery for all time. It will safeguard critical salmon habitat and sources of clean drinking water for our local communities, protecting our unmatched quality of life on the Peninsula. We are extremely grateful to Representative Kilmer for continuing the work begun years ago by Representative Norm Dicks and Senator Murray to protect the Wild Olympics. It is testament to the commitment and hard work of Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer that we may — for the first time in nearly 30 years — see new wilderness on Olympic National Forest, as well as the first-ever protected wild and scenic rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.”


“Safeguarding our natural environment is a key to providing steady and sustainable income to our rural economies,” said Roy Nott, an Aberdeen Business Leader and former Timber Company Executive. “The Olympic Peninsula’s stunning scenery sport fishing, clamming, hiking, hunting, bird watching and other forms of outdoor recreation all contribute to our local economic health and are critical to attracting and retaining the highly skilled employees that growing, technology-based companies want and need.”


“This bill will protect and promote the same spectacular public lands and high quality of life that are helping to drive growth and create local jobs in real estate, construction and many other sectors of our economy today,” said Harriet Reyenga, an independent realtor for Windermere Real Estate in Port Angeles. “Our ancient forests, salmon, rivers and amazing landscapes are the north Olympic Peninsula’s competitive economic advantage over other regions.”  Reyenga, who won the 2012 Realtor Achievement Award from the Port Angeles Association of Realtors, added, “We should do all we can to protect and promote these natural treasures. The Wild Olympics legislation will do both.”


“People think that because these areas appear as they’ve always been, that they are safe,” said Dave Bailey, Past President of the Grey Wolf Fly Fishing Club in Sequim, WA and a co-founder of Sportsmen for Wild Olympics  “Unfortunately, that is the furthest thing from the truth.  There is a determined effort in Congress to roll back safeguards on our public lands and open these sensitive spawning grounds to small hydropower development, industrial clear-cutting and more road building once more.  That’s bad for fish, game, and sportsmen.  This legislation is critical to preserve what we have.”


“Places like lower Gray Wolf, Lena Lake, South Fork Skokomish and South Quinault Ridge deserve the ‘gold standard’ of protection, and that is what this visionary bill provides,” said Tim McNulty, of Sequim, Wild Olympics Coalition member and author of Olympic National Park: A Natural History. “The conservation community has been working for decades to safeguard these unparalleled areas.  Today is a day to celebrate, but now we must work to get this important legislation passed by Congress and signed into law.  Future generations deserve no less.”


“The two largest shellfish hatcheries that supply seed to the West Coast industry are located on Hood Canal, said Bill Taylor President, of Taylor Shellfish in Shelton. “Well over 150 jobs are provided in Hood Canal alone by the industry, not including the indirect jobs such as processing, sales and shipping. By taking a watershed approach to protecting Olympic Peninsula forests and rivers we ensure clean and safe water so that shellfish companies can continue to grow and further benefit the economy and ecology of Washington state.”

“As an outdoor recreation business owner and an avid outdoorsman, my livelihood depends on clean, free-flowing rivers, said Morgan Colonel, the Owner of Olympic Raft and Kayak, Port Angeles I managed a Jackson Hole river company during the designation of the Snake River as Wild & Scenic, and saw firsthand the benefits of safeguarding this vital waterway. Active outdoor recreation contributes more than $11.7 billion annually to Washington’s economy, and supports 115,000 jobs. Businesses like mine depend on access to the high quality natural resources the Olympic Peninsula is known for. Protecting these resources is an investment in our region’s economic future, and the smart thing to do.”


Wild Olympics is endorsed by more than 470 local businesses, farms, faith leaders, local elected officials, hunting, fishing and recreation groups:

College Transfer Fair at Grays Harbor College

Grays Harbor College hosts the annual College Transfer Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday (Jan 16) in the HUB on the main campus in Aberdeen. Representatives from 17 regional colleges and universities will be participating, including Oregon Institute of Technology, which has not visit the Harbor in many years.

Other participants will include Art Institute of Seattle, City University of Seattle, Central Washington University, the Evergreen State College, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandizing, International Academy of Design and Technology, Northwest University, Pacific Lutheran University, University of Phoenix, St. Martin’s University, University of Washington/Bothell and UW/Tacoma, Washington State University, WSU/Tri-Cities, WSU/Vancouver and Western Governors University.

Those interested in learning more about transferring to one of these colleges or universities are encouraged to visit GHC on Thursday.

Representative Derek Kilmer End of Year Report

Since taking office in January, Representative Derek Kilmer has been active both at home and in Washington, DC to work for his constituents. The following report presents Representative Kilmer’s accessibility in the region, a snapshot of benefits secured for his constituents, and a summary of his legislative efforts and accomplishments in his first year in office.

“While Congress itself continues to be something of a ‘fixer-upper,’ I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished for the people of the 6th District this year and I’m excited about how much more we can do in the coming year,” said Representative Derek Kilmer. “I’ll continue to work in a bipartisan way to get Congress back to work, to build on the recent budget agreement and move toward a long-term fiscal plan, to help our neighbors cut through red tape, and to continue producing results on the issues that matter the most to our region.”


Accessible to His Constituents

  • Rep. Kilmer has made it a priority to be accessible to his constituents so he can hear what’s on their minds and help them with their problems.  To that end, he has held or been accessible at the following events:
    • First and foremost, as a former economic developer, Rep. Kilmer has held 53 “Kilmer at Your Company” visits. During these events, he typically receives a tour or speaks briefly with the heads of businesses, and is accessible to employees so he can hear what’s on their minds.
    • 10 Public Town Halls
    • 4 Telephone Town Halls
    • 3 Open Office Hours
    • 2 Derek on Your Docks where he visited with commuters at the Kingston and Bainbridge island ferry docks
    • 4 Farmers Markets visits
    • 15 Rotary Meetings
    • 15 Chamber Meetings
    • Over 60 festivals, county fairs, and annual community events
    • Reached out to every mayor in the 6th District
    • Visited with leaders of all nine tribes located in the 6th District
    • Visited every major military command and facility


Helping Constituents Cut Through Red Tape

  • Representative Kilmer’s office has been active in helping over 500 constituents cut through red tape and resolve problems. To date, the total casework savings returned to constituents by Rep. Kilmer’s office is over half a million dollars.
    • Total Casework Savings for Constituents: $615,440.00
      • Medicare à $166,252
      • Department of Veterans Affairs/Defense Finance Accounting Service à $161,387
      • Social Security Administration à $105,928
      • Office of Personnel Management à $21,373
      • IRS à $160,500


Working in a Bipartisan Manner

  • In his first year in office, Rep. Kilmer has established himself as a Member of Congress who will work across the aisle to solve problems for Washington’s families. Rep. Kilmer is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus and a part of the “Bipartisan Working Group” which meets every week to discuss how to move past partisanship to create progress.
  • Rep. Kilmer is a cosponsor of the Problems Solvers Government Reform Agenda which includes provisions such as No Budget No Pay, procurement reform, and other ideas to save taxpayers money.


Fighting Against Sequestration and Shutdown

  • On March 1, when the across-the-board cuts caused by sequestration went into place, Rep. Kilmer stood outside the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard gate to greet workers as they arrived.
  • When sequestration led to Department of Defense (DoD) furloughs, the Department wrongly furloughed employees at Working Capital Fund sites. Those workers are legally protected from furloughs and aren’t directly funded by taxpayer dollars. In response, Rep. Kilmer led a bipartisan letter and passed an amendment on the floor of the House to exempt those employees from future sequestration-related furloughs.
  • In response to concerns he heard from shipyard workers, Rep. Kilmer passed another amendment to ensure that civilian workers wouldn’t lose their security clearances just because they’ve been furloughed as a result of sequestration. Rep. Kilmer also introduced legislation to ease the financial hardship on those civilian employees who needed to make emergency withdrawals from their retirement accounts.
  • Thousands of civilian workers were furloughed because Congress failed to do its job and replace sequestration. Just as Congress came together to provide backpay to federal workers who lost pay as a result of the government shutdown, Rep. Kilmer introduced the bipartisan Federal Employee Pay Restoration Act to ensure that we continue to support our federal workforce.
  • When Congress could not reach a compromise to keep federal agencies funded Rep. Kilmer voluntarily gave up his own pay for the duration of the government shutdown.
  • When Congress finally passed a bipartisan budget, Rep. Kilmer voted to help avert a government shutdown, and halt most of the damaging across-the-board cuts that have hurt our region. Rep. Kilmer continues to call on Congress to put together a plan to deal with our long-term fiscal health and get folks back to work.


Supporting Economic Growth, Financial Stability and Investments in our Future

  • Given the strong role of the military in our region, Rep. Kilmer passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to reauthorize a program known as the IT Exchange Program to provide for workforce exchanges between the DoD and private employers.
  • As a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Rep. Kilmer has been active in the effort to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act, a bill focused on strengthening national research policy and STEM education efforts to improve American competitiveness.  Specifically, he led an effort of the New Democratic Coalition to develop a list of strong legislative principles for the reauthorization effort.
  • Rep. Kilmer introduced the bipartisan Transfer Act to support early commercialization of research efforts and expand economic development from early research. The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee voted in December to move the legislation forward.
  • Recognizing the need to invest in our workforce, Rep. Kilmer introduced the Skills Investment Act, which would help workers save for education and job training through the establishment of worker-owned, employer-matched savings plans called Lifelong Learning Accounts.
  • Rep. Kilmer introduced the bipartisan American Savings Promotion Act, a bill to make it easier for financial institutions to offer products that incentivize individuals to build their savings. This bill was recently featured on PBS Newshour.
  • As our military installations face encroachment challenges, Rep. Kilmer led a delegation letter to Gov. Inslee and successfully pushed for funding key investments to ensure the long-term viability of these national assets.
  • As Congress considers final passage of the Farm Bill, Rep. Kilmer is pushing for strong funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
  • Our communities are made stronger when loving families open their hearts and homes to needy children and become adoptive parents. Rep. Kilmer introduced the Adoption Tax Credit Tribal Parity Act, which would ensure that parents who adopt Native American children with special needs get the tax relief that Congress intended for them to have.


Preserving Natural Resources

  • Rep. Kilmer worked closely with Rep. Heck to create the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus devoted exclusively to promoting Puget Sound cleanup efforts.
  • Rep. Kilmer is working on legislation to help strengthen our ability to monitor ocean acidification to protect our natural resources and local economic engines.
  • Rep. Kilmer established a collaborative that will bring together a wide range of stakeholders looking to move past the timber wars of the past and instead focus on what steps we can take to promote forest health and support economic growth in our region.


Supporting Servicemembers, Veterans, and their Families

  • After hearing from servicemembers and veterans who have experienced discrimination, Rep. Kilmer introduced legislation that would prohibit discrimination against veterans and servicemembers seeking employment or housing opportunities.
  • Rep. Kilmer’s Veterans Advisory Group has kicked off several initiatives to ensure that those who have served get the resources they need.
  • Native American veterans face obstacles in receiving federal assistance to help fight homelessness. Rep. Kilmer introduced the Housing Native Heroes Act to ensure that the successful HUD-VASH voucher program can help reduce homelessness among our Native American veterans.


Protecting National Security

  • The threat of cyber attacks represents one of our nation’s largest national security challenges, but cybersecurity technologies are also an emerging industry within our region.  Rep. Kilmer is pursuing ways to connect local institutions of higher learning with federal agencies and the private sector to provide valuable on-the-job training in the cyber field.
  • Our intelligence and law enforcement officials must have the resources they need to keep us safe but there must also be clear and firm rules to guide their work so Americans’ civil liberties are protected.  Rep. Kilmer was active in the effort to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing & Protection Act.
  • Rep. Kilmer is working with his colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee to refine the way that the government spends taxpayer money, pursuing opportunities for procurement reform.
  • Rep. Kilmer used his position on the House Armed Services Committee to advocate for critical infrastructure investments at Naval Base Kitsap – Bangor and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.  These projects will help our service members and civilian employees execute their missions and help to ensure our installations remain strong into the future.


Investing in Local Infrastructure

  • Ports are essential engines of economic growth throughout our region. As the House considers final passage of the Water Resources Development Act, Rep. Kilmer is pushing to maintain provisions that support our small ports and harbors and help address the “donor port” status that creates competitiveness issues for the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle.
  • After reaching out to a number of stakeholders, Rep. Kilmer helped stand up an infrastructure working group focused on addressing the needs of the South Kitsap Industrial Area.
  • Communities throughout our region are today vulnerable due to the threat posed by a tsunami. Rep. Kilmer is working at both the state and federal level to enhance coastal resiliency.

Timberland Regional Library branches now offering access to Microsoft IT Academy

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington State Library has joined with Microsoft to present free access to anyone with a Timberland library card to its Microsoft IT Academy. This includes about 1700 courses–from the most basic (how to use a mouse and keyboard) through IT Professional training courses.

The IT Academy offers technology courses on three levels – basic digital literacy skills, Microsoft Office Skills and advanced skills for IT Professionals. Timberland Regional Library says they are able to offer free access to the Microsoft IT Academy for all Timberland patrons through a collaboration between Washington libraries, Microsoft, the Washington State Library, Office of Secretary of State and the Washington State Legislature.

Microsoft IT Academy

Visit to get signed up for the Microsoft IT Academy. All you need is an email address and a library card, they can also help you sign up at the library branches.

BBB already sick of Affordable Care Act scams

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 15% of Washington State residents are uninsured, and these people may face fines for not acquiring coverage.


BBB reminds insurance shoppers:

Don’t trust caller IDs. Scammers possess the technology to spoof caller IDs, displaying any phone number or organization name they please.

Don’t press any buttons and don’t call back.  Some reports indicate that initial calls are automated and request that recipients dial numbers to enter account information or reach representatives; don’t do it.

Don’t give out personal information. Never give personal information to unsolicited callers; avoid sharing Social Security Numbers, birthdates or medical information.


To learn more about the Affordable Care Act or the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit To stay current on other local scams, make an appointment with BBB’s News Center at

Satsop Business Park Wastewater Treatment Plant Receives Outstanding Performance Award

 Last year the Satsop Business Park received $4 million in grant funding from the State to upgrade the existing system. Work on the General Sewer Plan is well underway and, once complete, will identify a preferred solution to provide wastewater treatment at the Park. A project to replace portions of the collection system is slated to begin this fall as part of the project.


The Satsop Business Park, a facility of the Port of Grays Harbor, is less than 2 hours southwest of Seattle and 2 hours north of Portland.  Located in scenic Grays Harbor County in Elma, Washington the 1,800 acre mixed-use business and industrial park is approximately 30 minutes from Olympia and the I-5 Corridor.  A part of the Grays Harbor Innovation Partnership Zone, the Satsop Business Park is a mixed use office, technology and industrial business park with more than 600 acres of developed, pad-ready land and buildings supported by super-sized infrastructure ready to suit the needs of your business.

Grays Harbor Community Hospital acquires state of the art CT scan technology

Aberdeen, Washington – Grays Harbor Community Hospital has worked with Toshiba International in upgrading its CT Scanning equipment with new cutting edge technology and software, making GHCH one of the first hospitals in Western Washington to have this advancement available to its patients.

“This improvement offers physicians the ability to have a clearer quality image to assess their patients,” explained John J Simon III, Director of Diagnostic Imaging, at Grays Harbor Community Hospital. “It’s like going from standard television to high-definition. It’s really an amazing tool.”

Toshiba’s 128 slice CT scanner will enhance imaging and increase examination speed, while reducing radiation exposure to the patient by half.

Simon concluded by stating “This is another example of the Hospital’s investment in technology, ensuring our patients have the best quality care, close to home.”

CT Scanner

Cantwell, FAA Announce Groundbreaking Hub to Launch New Era in Jet Biofuels Development

Cantwell, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and the entire Washington delegation sent a letter to the FAA in April supporting WSU’s proposal.

Cantwell wrote language to create the new FAA Center of Excellence in the FAA reauthorization bill of 2012. The announcement marks a major FAA long-term public-private investment in jet biofuel research, with the new Center of Excellence in Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment funded at $40 million over the next 10 years. It will be matched 1-to-1 with $40 million from industry partners.

The coalition of 16 universities and 26 industry and federal partners and stakeholders includes numerous members in Washington state: the University of Washington, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Alaska Airlines, Boeing, Weyerhaeuser, the Port of Seattle, Spokane International Airport, Imperium Renewables and InnovaTek.

“As the longtime home of our nation’s aerospace industry, Washington state has always been on the cutting edge of new technology that makes American planes better, safer, and more efficient, and I’m thrilled Washington State University will continue that proud tradition as home for the new Air Transportation Center of Excellence for alternate jet fuels and the environment,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Developing new alternative jet fuels is crucial for the airline industry, our military, and our environment, and the FAA made the right decision to base this important research where it belongs, in Washington state.”

As the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee, Senator Murray has fought to include funding for the Air Transportation Center of Excellence in the Senate spending bill two years in row. Throughout the selection process, Senator Murray spoke directly with FAA Administrator Huerta several times to advocate on behalf of WSU’s application.

For more than a decade, WSU has provided technical leadership to the Pacific Northwest region and to the nation in alternative fuels for aircraft. The WSU team will focus on feedstock development, sustainable forest production and establishing new methods to identify the most promising plant lines for biofuel conversion.

“Washington state is already the aerospace capital of the world,” said Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, the top Democrat on the House Aviation Subcommittee. “This national center of excellence will put people to work making our state the base for innovation that will reshape aviation in the 21st century. The center will combine our state’s unmatched strength in aviation engineering with our unrivaled commitment to protecting the environment.”

The top 40 airports around the country use approximately 90 percent of America’s jet fuel. The Center will coordinate a regional approach to meet the needs of different hubs across the country. WSU and the other universities chosen as partners have expertise and experience with woody biomass feedstocks of native trees to their respective regions.

“We thank Senator Maria Cantwell for her leadership in making the FAA Center of Excellence a reality. It’s terrific win for Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest, and it further validates our region as the leader in the development of sustainable aviation biofuel,” said Mike Bair, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “State-of-the-art research conducted by the Center of Excellence will advance the commercialization of aviation biofuel. This fuel will play a crucial role in supporting our industry’s long-term growth while reducing its carbon emissions.”

“Airlines for America is a strong proponent of increasing our nation’s energy security and developing sustainable alternative aviation fuels,” said Nicholas E. Calio, President and CEO of Airlines for America. “We applaud the efforts of Sen. Cantwell, who is a longtime advocate for jet biofuels and their potential for the aviation sector.”

“We are thrilled to learn the FAA has selected Washington State University to lead the Center of Excellence, and we thank Senator Cantwell for her leadership in making this possible. With this investment, our region will continue to play a critical role in advancing the development of aviation biofuels,” said Keith Loveless, Alaska Air Group’s executive vice president and general counsel and executive sponsor of Alaska’s sustainability program. “Using sustainable aviation fuels reflects our commitment to be the industry leader in environmental stewardship.”

“Washington state is poised to lead the nation is tackling this critical scientific challenge,” Cantwell continued. “Biofuel research brings together Washington state’s leaders in aviation, innovation and agriculture. This Center will propel Washington state’s innovation economy to the forefront of the emerging biofuels industry.”

WSU President Elson S. Floyd said that “competing for and winning the Center of Excellence designation reaffirms the State of Washington and Washington State University as international leaders in aviation and the development of alternative jet fuels. We, along with our university and industry partners, stand ready to deliver the new science, advanced technology and educated workforce the industry will need to be globally competitive. I especially want to thank Sens. Cantwell and Murray, and our entire Congressional delegation for their support of our proposal for the center designation.”

“The airlines are looking for ways to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint, and this center of excellence will play a big role in doing just that,” said John Holladay, manager of the Biomass Sector at PNNL.

Washington state is home to leaders in the research, development and use of aviation biofuels. Notable successes include:
In July 2010, Boeing, Alaska Airlines, the operators of the region’s three largest airports – Port of Seattle, Port of Portland and Spokane International Airport, and Washington State University launched Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest. The coalition is the nation’s first regional stakeholder effort to explore the opportunities of aviation biofuels.
In September 2011, a research team led by WSU received a $40 million USDA grant to convert closed timber mills into bioenergy development centers. The UW also received a $40 million USDA grant to research the use of sustainably grown woody energy crops to produce bio-gasoline and renewable aviation fuel.
In November 2011, Alaska Air conducted 75 commercial flights over a two-week period in which each plane used a 20 percent mixture of aviation biofuel.

Cantwell, along with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), introduced legislation in May 2011 to extend the length of contracts between the Department of Defense and biofuel producers from the current limit of 5 years to 15 years. Allowing for longer-term contracts with the largest single consumer of energy in the country would help companies in Washington state to obtain the financing they need to grow their operations.

Cantwell Introduces Bill to Jumpstart Oil Spill Response Capability


“Oil spills pose a threat to Washington’s coastal economy and to the health of our waterways,” said Cantwell. “We will continue to take every possible step to prevent a spill from reaching Washington’s shores. But we need to be equipped with the best technology available to minimize the damage to our waterways. It’s time to modernize our oil spill cleanup toolbox, and develop technology to clean up certain high-risk spills like tar sands oil. ” 


According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, a major spill would have a significant impact on Washington state’s coastal economy, which employs 165,000 people and generates $10.8 billion in annual economic activity. A spill would also severely hurt the state’s export dependent economy because international shipping would likely be severely restricted. Washington state’s waters support a huge variety of fish, shellfish, seabirds, marine mammals, and plants, including a number of Endangered Species Act-protected species such as Southern Resident orcas and Chinook salmon.


With updated oil spill response plans with new technology, cleaning up oil from incidents like the sinking of the vessel in Penn Cove in 2012 could occur more quickly and effectively. As of November 2012, some 254 vessels were listed on the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ ‘Derelict Vessel Removal Program.’


Major provisions in the Oil Spill Technology and Development Act of 2013 include:


  • Establishing a new oil spill research committee: The bill would streamline the Federal Oil Spill Research Committee made up of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of the Interior. This move was recommended in a Government Accountability Office report from 2011.


  • Building an oil spill research program: This research and development initiative would be overseen by the new committee and would spearhead the issuing of competitive grants to universities and other research institutions. These grants would award projects developing innovative methods for responding to oil spills.


  • Beginning comprehensive reviews of oil spill technology: The legislation would authorize the Coast Guard to thoroughly review and evaluate new oil spill response technology. The bill would also give the Coast Guard authority to review and update regional oil spill response plans every five years to ensure the best available technology is in place.


The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 demonstrated the chronic underinvestment in oil spill research and development. Currently, the industry lacks incentives and requirements to research, develop and adopt new cleanup technologies – even those that are proven effective. Among the new oil spill response technologies are oil solidifiers, blowout preventers, new techniques to break down spilled oil, fiber membranes to strain oil from water, and software to ensure equipment works properly during clean up.


Cantwell has played a leading role in pushing for a more comprehensive response to major oil spills. The U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Bill (HR 2838signed into law by President Obama on December 20, 2012, included Cantwell’s amendments requiring the Coast Guard to complete an analysis and recommend methods for managing and minimizing the potential increases in supertanker, tanker and barge traffic exporting Canadian tar sands oil.


In October 2010, President Obama signed legislation Cantwell authored that required the Coast Guard to pursue enforcement of international oil pollution agreements covering the high seas. It also required the Coast Guard to address the risk of spills resulting from oil transfer operations and from human error, and establish a grant program to reduce smaller spills on recreational boats or fishing vessels.  The bill also required the Coast Guard to complete a study to address cross-border spill response capabilities along Washington state’s shared maritime boundaries with Canada.


In July 2010, Cantwell chaired a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard about the lack of appropriate technology to respond to a major oil spill like Deepwater Horizon. At that hearing, Cantwell noted that spill response technologies have changed little between the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.