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Secretary Locke and Congressional Delegation Met With Korean President Lee to Discuss U.S.-Korea Commercial Relationship

Locke and Lee discussed mutual benefits of U.S.-Korea trade agreement

Today, Secretary Gary Locke and members of Congress met with the President of the Republic of Korea Lee Myung-Bak at the Blue House. Locke, who is leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to build support for the passage of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS), reinforced the importance of the bilateral commercial relationship as part of the two countries’ historic alliance and emphasized the importance of KORUS in spurring economic growth in both the U.S. and Korea.

“Korea is a vital ally, a strong friend, and an important economic partner,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “KORUS is a win-win for both the U.S. and Korea. This agreement will strengthen our partnership and take it to the next level, by lowering tariffs and creating a more level playing field for businesses in both countries.”

The congressional delegation consists of four members from the U.S. House of Representatives – Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and David Reichert (R-WA).

Locke and the delegation discussed the benefits of KORUS for both the U.S. and Korea in productive bilateral meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-Hwan and Trade Minister Kim Jong-Hoon. Earlier in the day, they met with the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, as well as top Korean business executives.  Locke and the delegation also met with a diverse group of Korean university students over afternoon tea where they had an in-depth discussion about the youth perspective on KORUS and how various elements of the agreement will benefit the economic future of both countries.  They talked about Korea’s impressive economic growth and its emerging economic leadership in the region and the world.

Secretary Locke Kicks Off CODEL to Korea

Guest blog post by Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke.

This week, I’m visiting the Republic of Korea, one of the United States’ closest allies in the world, and one of our most important trading partners.  Last December, President Obama signed a landmark trade deal with Korea that could boost annual exports of American goods to Korea by up to $11 billion, supporting at least 70,000 U.S. jobs.

But the deal still needs to pass Congress, which is why this week, I’m leading four Members of Congress on a fact-finding mission that will demonstrate firsthand how this trade deal will lead directly to more sales of American goods and services abroad and more American jobs here at home.

Korean and U.S. businesses are already collaborating, innovating and trading together like never before.  This week, members of our bipartisan delegation – which includes Representatives Dave Reichert and Jim McDermott from my home state of Washington and Representatives Joseph Crowley and Charles Rangel from New York – are getting to see this up close.

Tomorrow, we visit Pantech, one of Korea’s largest mobile phone makers, and a major buyer of U.S. technology. 

4th Annual Energy and Environmental Stewardship Awards at the Department of Commerce

The winning team from NIST. From left to right:  Brian Dougherty (NIST), Dennis Campbell (NIST), Frederick Stephens (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration and Senior Sustainability Officer), Daniel Gilmore (NIST), Stella Fiotes (NIST Chief Facilities Management Officer), and Jatin Patel (NIST).

The Department of Commerce celebrated Earth Day this week with its 4th annual Energy and Environmental Stewardship Awards ceremony.  The department’s Energy and Environmental Stewardship Awards honor outstanding efforts in promoting environmental stewardship and energy conservation across the department.  This year there were six winning teams:

  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology, honored for sourcing more than five percent of its energy from renewable sources in FY10;

  • The Herbert C. Hoover Building Green Team, honored for implementing a toner cartridge recycling and reuse program whose savings are estimated at $50,000 annually;

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service’s Coastal Services Center in Charleston, S.C., honored for installing an innovative rainwater harvesting system to redirect stormwater from roofs into native planting beds and a rain garden;

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, honored for reducing use and increasing recycling of toxic chemicals;

  • Members of the department’s Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan development team, honored for their success in drafting the department’s first Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan and establishing a dedicated sustainability communication network at Commerce;

  • And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, honored for implementing a suite of projects ranging from the installation of innovative solar power technologies to the selection of alternative products for vessel maintenance that together have significantly reduced grid energy consumption, water consumption, and fleet petroleum use.  

The department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration and Senior Sustainability Officer, Fred Stephens, presented the awards to the winning teams during the Herbert C. Hoover Building’s Earth Day fair on April 20, 2011.  Congratulations to the winners! 

Earth Day Stats from the U.S. Department of Commerce

Wind turbines on a wind farm (DIS photo)

In honor of Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau has pulled together a sampling of green data on green initiatives being taken to protect the environment.

According to the American Community Survey (5-year estimates):

  • 0.5% of Americans bike to and from work. More men bike to work than women (0.7% vs. 0.3%).
  • 10.5% of U.S. residents carpool to work. Men are more likely to carpool than women (11% vs. 10%).
  • 5% of U.S. residents take public transportation to work. Women are more likely to take public transportation (5.4% vs. 4.6%).
  • About 36,000 households in the United States rely on solar energy to heat their homes.

In 2009, according to data from the American Community Survey, the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island metropolitan area led in the nation in the percentage of workers who used public transportation at 30.5%, followed by the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metro area, at 14.6%.

The Census Bureau’s 2011 Statistical Abstract is an excellent source for additional green stats, including on solar and renewable energy (PDF), emissions from power generation, air quality, threatened and endangered wildlife and plant species, and emissions of greenhouse gases by type and source (PDF).

A 'Coming of Age' Event for Local Social and Economic Statistical Information

Director Groves on podium

Guest blog post by Robert M. Groves, Director, U.S. Census Bureau

Very recently the Census Bureau gave to the country the fully-evolved set of statistical information based on the American Community Survey – social and economic characteristics for thousands of communities across the country.

While this was a big deal for us data geeks at the Census Bureau, it marked the beginning of annual estimates for small communities and neighborhoods throughout the country.  Each year, each community throughout the country will get small area estimates of the occupational and industrial sector distribution, commuting patterns to work, health insurance status, disability status, wage levels, school attendance, non-English language spoken, military veteran status, housing structures, fuel use for health, housing costs, and citizenship status.

Commerce's NTIA Showcases Broadband Stimulus Success Story

Deputy Assistant Secretary Gomez Addresses Importance of Broadband

Guest blog post by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Anna M. Gomez

Earlier this month, I saw firsthand the benefits of our sustainable broadband adoption projects when I attended a graduation ceremony in D.C.  Byte Back, a BTOP grantee partner, held a ceremony for adults who completed computer and jobs-skills training courses. At the graduation, I met students who showed me how these courses are enabling them to cross the digital divide and open doors to new opportunities.

One of the graduating students was a mother who had to seek out her teenage daughter’s help in order to pass the course. Another graduate was a senior who came to the program when her computer broke. She enjoyed the courses so much that she is now a volunteer with the program, helping to teach other seniors valuable computer skills that can help them stay informed and connected. Several others were already finding ways to put their new skills to work and had lined up job opportunities.

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.

Files

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.