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The Commerce Blog

Scientists Release the First Rescued, Rehabilitated Sea Turtles Back into the Gulf

Photo of Kemp’s ridley sea turtleCommerce's NOAA administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco and Adm. Thad Allen joined state, federal, and partner biologists today as they released 23 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles back into the Gulf of Mexico near Cedar Key, Fla., after the turtles were successfully rescued and rehabilitated from the effects of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

“I'm pleased that Admiral Allen and I were able to assist with the release of these turtles. And we thank all of our partners in this rescue and rehabilitation effort,” said Dr. Lubchenco. “This is a wonderful day for all involved--but especially for the turtles.”

“This area near Cedar Key provides excellent habitat for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and has long been known as an important habitat area for this species,” said Barbara Schroeder, NOAA’s national sea turtle coordinator. “Thanks to the efforts of our rescue teams and rehabilitation facility partners all of the turtles we released today have an excellent chance of surviving in the wild and contributing to the recovery of this species.”  Read full NOAA release

Vice President Biden, Secretary Locke and Senior Administration Officials Announce $1.8 Billion in Recovery Act Broadband Projects

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today joined Reps. Jay Inslee and Brian Baird at the Seattle Central Library in announcing a $54.5 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) investment to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, create jobs, and improve education and healthcare in difficult terrain both east and west of the Cascade mountain range in Washington state.

“This critical investment will lay the groundwork for sustainable economic growth by connecting difficult terrain both east and west of the Cascades that have been without the full economic, educational and social benefits of high-speed Internet,” Locke said.

Following the announcement in Seattle, Secretary Locke joined Reps. Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa in a news conference call to announce six grants totalling more $200 million to expand high-speed Internet access and adoption in California. In addition, U.S. Department of Commerce Senior Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Wade joined U.S. Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, and U.S. Reps. Mike Ross and Vic Snyder in Little Rock in announcing a $102 million Recovery Act investment that will help improve economic opportunity and support job creation in Arkansas.

Earlier today, Vice President Joe Biden announced approximately $1.8 billion in new projects that will create jobs and expand economic opportunities within 37 states across America.  Remarks  |  Read more  |  White House release

NIST to Frame 1297 Magna Carta

Image of historic Magna Carta, courtesy David M. Rubenstein and NARAFabrication specialists at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are joining forces with conservators at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to protect and display a document that influenced our nation’s foundation, the 1297 Magna Carta. Only four originals of the 1297 Magna Carta survive, and the one at the Archives is the only original on display in the United States.

The famous charter is on exhibit in the West Rotunda Gallery in the National Archives Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.

The Magna Carta harkens back to 1215 when King John of England was forced by an assembly of barons to write down the traditional rights of the country’s free persons. By so doing, he bound himself and his heirs to grant “to all freemen of our kingdom” the rights and liberties described in the great charter, or Magna Carta. Each subsequent ruler did the same. The 1297 Magna Carta represents the transition from a brokered agreement to the foundation of English law, upon which U.S. law is based.  Read more  |  NARA release

Space Coast Task Force Delivers Economic Strategies Report to President Barack Obama

Secretary Locke and NASA Administrator Bolden provide blueprint for job creation and innovation to propel regional economy

Obama at NASA giving remarks; NASA photoThe President's Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development, co-chaired by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., today released its report to the president with recommendations to enhance economic development strategies along Florida’s Space Coast. The Task Force was charged with developing a plan for how best to invest $40 million in transition assistance from the federal government in the Space Coast region as the Space Shuttle program winds down.

Locke, Bolden, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and several other senior administration officials have visited the region multiple times since the creation of the Task Force to meet with area workers and experts.

“Over the past few months, we have worked diligently with local government officials, economic development agencies, and affected corporations and employees to develop a comprehensive plan that will create high-skill, high-wage jobs and a strong economic base in the Space Coast,” Locke said. “Space is a key driver of the 21st century American economy and that’s why the president believes so strongly in empowering NASA to pursue new avenues of discovery.”  Release  |  Report  |  NASA Space Coast Task Force

Secretary Locke Announces $31.3 Million in Restoration and Recovery Grants for Louisiana, Gulf

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited Louisiana today to hear from local business owners and community members who have been directly affected by the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill. At an economic roundtable in Metairie, La., Locke announced $31.3 million in coastal restoration and economic development grants for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

“These grants are another sign of this administration’s commitment to help the Gulf Coast’s economy and environment recover in the wake of the BP oil spill,” Locke said.

A $30.7 million restoration grant, awarded to the Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration by Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will fund the restoration of a critical barrier headland near Port Fourchon, La. The headland, which experiences some of the highest shoreline retreat rates in the nation, protects vital bay and wetland habitat and property from storm surge and erosion. Louisiana’s coastal habitat is the state’s first line of defense during storms, reducing the devastating effects of wind, waves, and flooding.

In addition, Locke announced a $600,000 effort by Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to fund the deployment of 21 Assessment and Evaluation teams to communities affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf.  Read more

Back to School 2010-2011 Stats from Census

Image of front of yellow school busBy August, summertime is winding down and vacations will be coming to an end, signaling that back-to-school time is near. It's a time that many children eagerly anticipate—catching up with old friends, making new ones and settling into a new daily routine. Parents and children alike scan the newspapers and websites looking for sales to shop for a multitude of school supplies and the latest clothing fads and essentials. This edition of the Census Bureau's Facts for Features highlights the many statistics associated with the return to classrooms by our nation's students and teachers. Facts for Features.

NOAA: Second-Warmest July and Warmest Year-to-Date Global Temperature on Record

Map of U.S. temperaturesThe combined global land and ocean surface temperature made this July the second-warmest on record, behind 1998, and the warmest averaged January–July on record. The global average land surface temperature for July and January–July was warmest on record. The global ocean surface temperature for July was the fifth-warmest, and for January–July 2010 was the second-warmest on record, behind 1998.

The monthly analysis from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, which is based on records going back to 1880, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.  Read more here

NOAA Reopens More Than 5,000 Square Miles of Closed Gulf Fishing Area

Map of Gulf WatersToday NOAA reopened 5,144 square miles of Gulf waters to commercial and recreational finfish fishing. The reopening was announced after consultation with FDA and under a reopening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA, and the Gulf states.

Since July 3, NOAA data have shown no oil in the area, and United States Coast Guard observers flying over the area in the last 30 days have also not observed any oil. Trajectory models show the area is at a low risk for future exposure to oil and, most importantly, fish caught in the area and tested by NOAA experts have shown no signs of contamination.

“Consumer safety is NOAA’s primary concern, which is why we developed rigorous safety standards in conjunction with the FDA and the Gulf states to ensure that seafood is safe in the reopened area,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “We are confident that Gulf fish from this area is safe to eat and pleased that recreational and commercial fisherman can fish these waters again.”  Read more

Secretary Locke Announces $1.6 Billion in 2010 Census Savings

Secretary Locke gestures with his hands on podium

Effective public outreach campaign and careful management save taxpayer dollars

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced today that the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau is returning $1.6 billion in 2010 Census operational savings.

In the first full year of Census management by Obama administration officials and in a time of tightened federal resources, the Census came in 22 percent under budget. The savings occurred primarily because contingency funding set aside for disasters or major operational failures was not tapped and because the Census questionnaire mail-back response rate and workforce productivity across field operations both beat expectations.

In the years leading up to the 2010 Census, operations had been beset by a costly IT systems development. Upon taking office in 2009, Locke and Census Bureau Director Robert Groves heard warnings from Congress and Census watchdogs about the many high-risk operational challenges ahead and about the numerous systems failures in the years preceding the 2010 count. Importantly, response rates to surveys had been declining for years, and if that trend had held true for this decade’s census, it would have added hundreds of millions to the cost of the door-to-door follow-up effort.

“In early 2009, the 2010 Census was in need of top-notch operational and fiscal management,” Locke said. “The Census is a massive undertaking with great risk for operational problems and cost overruns. We appointed Dr. Groves to execute the 2010 Census with a directive to run a successful, non-partisan Census that counted everyone. Just as importantly, the President and I directed Dr. Groves to run a comprehensive review of the Census plan and find ways to cut costs and enumerate the population more efficiently. Over the last 17 months, we have worked tirelessly to ensure American tax dollars were being spent wisely.”  Read more   |  en español  |  RemarksWhite House blog  |  Census Director's blog

MBDA Unveils First U.S. Global Construction Program for Minority-Owned Firms

Secretary Locke with participants at National Press ClubProgram to provide minority-owned firms with education, mentoring and ability to compete for $1 billion in global construction procurement opportunities

U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary Dennis Hightower, Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), the International Trade Administration (ITA), the Tutor Perini Corporation, and the University of Southern California’s School of Policy, Planning and Development today announced the nation’s first program created to globalize the U.S. minority-owned construction industry by providing education, mentoring and procurement opportunities to minority-owned firms. Firms that complete the program will have the opportunity to compete for a minimum of $1 billion in Tutor Perini contracts, primarily international contracts, over a four-year period.

“This program could not be more relevant in today’s economy, where global competition is tougher than ever before,” said Hightower. “President Obama has set a goal of doubling exports over the next five years though his National Export Initiative and we need every stakeholder in America actively engaged in re-building our economy to create new jobs.”

An unprecedented public-private program spearheaded by MBDA, the Global Construction Program will prepare 150 high capacity, minority-owned and operated general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers to compete for construction opportunities worldwide. Participating firms will receive training, education and mentoring, as well as a new, broader source of contracting opportunities. Tutor Perini Corporation is one of the nation’s largest global construction conglomerates and a leader in supplier diversity within the construction industry. 

Pictured are Ralph Moore, President and CEO, Ralph G. Moore & Associates, Jennifer Grodsky, Executive Director, Federal Relations, University of Southern California,  Richard Rizzo, Executive Vice President, Tutor Perini Corporation, Deputy Secretary Dennis Hightower, and MBDA National Director David Hinson.  Read more