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NOAA: All Federal Waters of the Gulf Once Closed to Fishing Due to Spill Now Open

NOAA map: Tuesday, April 19, 2011: The last area in federal waters closed to fishing due to the oil spill reopens (

More than 1,000 square miles opened today

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today reopened to commercial and recreational fishing 1,041 square miles of Gulf waters immediately surrounding the Deepwater Horizon wellhead, just east of Louisiana. This is the twelfth and final reopening in federal waters since July 22, and opens all of the areas in Federal waters formerly closed to fishing due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

This reopening was announced after consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and under a reopening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA, and the Gulf states.

“I am pleased to announce that all federal waters affected by the spill are now open to all fishing,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. “I thank fishermen and the public for their patience and FDA for its support and cooperation throughout this process while we worked diligently to ensure the integrity of Gulf seafood.”

NOAA sampled this area between November 11 and November 14, 2010, March 12 and March 16, 2011, and March 28 and April 1, 2011, for potentially affected finfish, including tuna, swordfish, and escolar.  Read more in NOAA press release

U.S. Department of Commerce Releases Benchmarks for Energy and Sustainability Goals

Green Arrows Symbolizing Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce released – for the first time – its fiscal year 2010 scorecard on sustainability and energy performance (PDF) to track progress in achieving the goals of its Sustainability Plan. Using this scorecard as a benchmark, the department will identify and track the best opportunities to reduce pollution, improve efficiency and cut costs before updating its plan in June.

The sustainability scorecard serves as an important tool to help the department identify targets for reducing waste and increasing efficiency. In 2010, the Commerce Department was on track to meet its goals for increasing renewable energy use and decreasing its fleet petroleum and potable water use. Compared with 2005, the department has reduced its fleet petroleum use by 18.4 percent; and since 2007, has reduced its potable water use by 20.3 percent.

Innovative green initiatives are being implemented across Commerce’s bureaus. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, for example, is installing a vehicle charging station for hybrid vehicles at its Gaithersburg, Md., campus. Along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NIST is also installing solar panels to increase its renewable energy use. At Commerce headquarters, the department participates in a multi-year green power purchase agreement to meet part of the building’s electrical energy needs.

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Eating at California Pizza Kitchen in Mumbai

Assistant Secretary Nicole Lamb-Hale with the Entire Delegation

Fifteen globally recognized U.S. companies introduced their products and services to three of India’s major metropolitan markets during the Department of Commerce’s first-ever franchising trade mission to India. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and Services Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale led the mission which included stops in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and New Delhi, April 10-15.

Among other stops, Lamb-Hale and the U.S. delegation visited a California Pizza Kitchen in Mumbai to highlight the success of current American brands in India. She also celebrated the opening of the 200th Subway® franchise in India.

Mission participants completed more than 300 individual meetings with prospective investors, and public and private sector officials to explore the environment for their franchises. The franchise market in India has the potential to grow to $20 billion by 2020. Franchising in India is growing at an impressive rate of approximately 30 percent per year. Presently, there are 1,200 franchisors in India, of which 25 percent are of international origin, with U.S. companies the most prevalent. Learn more about the franchising trade mission to India.

National Identity Strategy Envisions a More Trustworthy Internet

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Leslie Harris, President and CEO of CDT, testifying before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection on the need for a baseline consumer privacy bill.

Guest blog post by Leslie Harris, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology.

Today the Administration released an ambitious, long-term strategy document called the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). The Strategy puts forth a vision where individuals can choose to use a smaller number of secure, privacy-preserving, and convenient online identities. This would be a shift away from today’s norm of numerous usernames, passwords, and online accounts scattered across the Web.

Importantly, the Administration has turned to the private sector to make this vision a reality. The Strategy is not a national ID program—in fact, it’s not an ID “program” at all. It is a call for leadership and innovation from private companies. The government’s role must now be to advocate for its citizens and to support the development of a fair and useful system.

Why should the American people care about a “strategy” for Internet identity?

First, a growing number of our Internet transactions require an identity. We’re continually prompted to create new accounts to participate in online social networking, shopping, banking, and forums. Most of us have no idea how our identifying information will be used or shared. It certainly doesn’t help that we have to offer a fresh set of information to every new service that comes along. Without a new approach, this trend will continue. We deserve better control over our identity and stronger assurances that it will not be misused. Innovation isn’t slowing down; we have to catch up.

Administration Launches National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace

Panelists (Photo: Peter Cutts Photography)

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was joined today at by Chair of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard A. Schmidt to release the administration’s National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) – a White House initiative to improve online security, increase privacy and foster economic growth and innovation online. Hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the event included a panel discussion with industry leaders and privacy advocates, as well as demonstrations of innovative smart technologies being developed to improve online authentication. 

NSTIC is a key building block in the national effort to secure cyberspace. According to industry surveys, as many as eight million Americans are victims of online fraud and identity theft each year and lose an average of $631 out-of-pocket per incident. Through a private sector-led effort facilitated by the government, NSTIC aims to make online transactions more trustworthy and enhance consumers’ privacy, thereby giving businesses and consumers more confidence to conduct business online.  The webcast will be available on-demand at a later date.  |  White House press release and fact sheet

NOAA: Earth Had 13th-Warmest March on Record

Graphic of March temperatures

The Earth experienced the 13th-warmest March since record keeping began in 1880, as the climate phenomenon La Niña continued to be a significant factor. The annual maximum Arctic sea ice extent was reached on March 7 and tied with 2006 as the smallest annual maximum extent since record keeping began in 1979. The monthly analysis is from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. 

Scientists, researchers and leaders in government and industry use NOAA’s monthly analyses to help track trends and other changes in the world's climate. This climate service has a wide range of practical uses, from helping farmers know what and when to plant, to guiding resource managers with critical decisions about water, energy and other vital assets.  Read more of today's report

NIST Zeroes In On Energy Consumption of Ice Makers

Image of refrigerator freezer

In tests of four different types of new refrigerators, Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers found that ice makers increased rated energy consumption by 12 to 20 percent. About three-fourths of that additional energy cost is due to the electric heaters used to release the ice bits from the molds.

With only one-fourth of the extra energy actually used to cool and freeze water, "there are substantial opportunities for efficiency improvements merely by optimizing the operations of the heaters associated with the ice makers" or by introducing a more efficient alternative technology, report NIST mechanical engineer David Yashar and guest researcher Ki-Jung Park.

Since refrigerators account for 8 percent of the total energy consumed by 111 million U.S. households according to the Department of Energy (DOE), the potential savings are significant.  Read more

Secretary Locke Tours Rexnord Industries and Addresses Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce

Secretary Locke Inspects a Rexnord Industries Product

Secretary Gary Locke traveled to Milwaukee, Wisc., today and delivered the keynote address to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, discussing the Obama administration’s strategy to spur job creation, promote innovation and energy independence, help businesses succeed, and position America to win the future by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building our global competition.

Earlier in the day, Locke toured Rexnord Industries, a leading manufacturer of process and motion control and water management products with operations and associates worldwide, and highlighted the importance of exports to strengthening the economic recovery.  He also hosted a roundtable discussion with local small- and medium-sized businesses to hear directly from them about the challenges they are facing and their ideas to encourage the recovery.  Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett joined Locke at today’s events.

Secretary Gary Locke Takes Nationwide New Markets, New Jobs Tour to New Orleans to Help Small Businesses Export

Locke, Van de Werken and Landrieu

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke traveled to New Orleans, La. today for the third stop of New Markets, New Jobs: The National Export Initiative Small Business Outreach Tour. Locke was joined by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Export-Import Bank Board Member Diane Farrell.

Locke delivered keynote remarks at the event, where he spoke about the administration’s efforts to support President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double U.S. exports in five years in support of several million new jobs. The NEI enhances the U.S. government’s trade promotion efforts, increases credit to businesses looking to export, and continues to improve efforts to remove trade barriers for U.S. companies in foreign markets.

Locke also announced the department’s CommerceConnect Gulf Coast initiative to support economic development following the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and highlighted a forthcoming announcement from the Department’s Economic Development Administration of grants to the region totaling $1.85 million. Cross-trained CommerceConnect staff – in collaboration with state and local partners – can assist Gulf Coast businesses no matter where they are in their life cycle, whether just getting off the ground or looking to expand into overseas markets, providing a one-stop connection to business assistance that can help firms compete in the global economy. 

Commerce Department Wraps Up Trade & Investment Program to Hannover, Germany with Promising Business Leads for Participating Economic Development Organizations

Guest Blog Post by Brian McGowan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.

I’m excited to report that it was a very productive and successful five days for the 21 organizations that joined the U.S. Department of Commerce last week for an exciting exporting opportunity. The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)/International Trade Administration (ITA) Trade & Investment Program to Hannover Messe 2011 ended on Friday with promising leads for U.S. economic development organizations (EDOs) pursuing potential foreign investors and trading partners.

The program is the product of a unique partnership formed by EDA and ITA and its U.S. Commercial Service (USCS) and Invest In America (IIA) programs. This type of interagency collaboration is very important as we work together to increase the global competitiveness of America’s regions. The mission aimed to promote the Obama Administration's National Export Initiative (NEI) and attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the United States. 

In total, our participating EDO’s held more than 400 meetings with potential foreign investors.  These connections are the first step in building relationships that can support regional growth and help create new jobs here at home.