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The Commerce Blog

Secretary Locke Joins President Obama for Health Insurance Reform Rally in Maryland

Screen capture image of White House video showing Obama with students and faculty behind him.

Image courtesy White House Web site video

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined President Barack Obama at the University of Maryland for a rally on health insurance reform. Locke described how health insurance reform will impact American businesses, the economy, and ultimately the job market students will enter after graduation. President Obama discussed what’s at stake for the American people in this debate, why we need health insurance reform and why we need to act now. The president’s plan has two goals: to bring stability and security to Americans who have insurance today, and affordable coverage to those who don’t. (More event coverage) (Presidential remarks)

NOAA Administrator Comments on Release of Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force Interim Report

Portrait of Lubchenco

Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator, commented on the release of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force interim report to the President. “Today is a historic day. For the first time, we as a nation say loudly and clearly that healthy oceans matter. . . . The interim report of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force lays out a national ocean policy that upholds our stewardship responsibilities, ensures accountability for our actions, and serves as a balanced model of efficient and sustainable ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes management and conservation.” (More) (White House Press Release)

Statement from Secretary Locke on August 2009 New Residential Construction

Photo of Secretary Locke.

File Photo

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Bureau of the Census released data on new residential construction in August 2009. Permits rose 2.7 percent in August and have increased 16.3 percent from their low in April, after plummeting a total of 78.0 percent between September 2005 and April 2009. Starts have followed a similar pattern, increasing 1.5 percent in August. “The upturn in housing activity and the recent gains in retail sales and industrial production demonstrate considerable progress toward recovery. More stimulus spending in the coming months should help spread growth to other sectors of the economy,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. (More) (Release)

Secretary Locke Hosts U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, Receives Recommendations to Promote Economy

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Secretary Locke seated at table with Board  participants. Click for larger image.

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke participated in a U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (TTAB) meeting to discuss recommendations key to growing the economy and boosting tourism. The travel and tourism industry, which accounts for 2.6 percent of U.S. GDP, has been adversely impacted by the economic downturn. Locke asked the TTAB for its views regarding issues facing the travel and tourism industry. The Board was established in 2003 and consists of up to 15 private-sector industry leaders who are appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. (TTAB Web site)

Secretary Locke meets with France's Minister of State for Foreign Trade

Ildrac and Locke seated. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke hosted a meeting with France’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Anne-Marie Idrac, at the Commerce Department. This was their first meeting. Secretary Locke and Minister of State Idrac shared views on the importance of increasing trade and economic growth. Locke affirmed, “The U.S. government is committed to expanding trade and avoiding protectionist policies.” The Secretary suggested that the Doha Round must be balanced and ambitious. “The United States and France would benefit from increasing trade with developing nations,” he said. (More)

NOAA: Warmest Global Sea-Surface Temperatures for August and Summer

NOAA Visualization

The world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest for any August on record, and the warmest on record averaged for any June-August (Northern Hemisphere summer/Southern Hemisphere winter) season according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The preliminary analysis is based on records dating back to 1880. NCDC scientists also reported that the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for August was the second-warmest on record, behind 1998. For the June-August 2009 season, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the third-warmest on record. (More)

Secretary Locke Breaks Ground on Major San Diego-Area Recovery Act Project

Shown with shovels in their hands: NIST Deputy Director Patrick Gallagher, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Directo Director Tony Haymet, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, NOAA Chief of Staff Margaret Spring. Click for larger image.

Photo: Robert Monroe/Scripps

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and Mayor Jerry Sanders led a groundbreaking ceremony in La Jolla, Calif., for two new buildings dedicated to ocean science on the campus of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The project is a major groundbreaking in California under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The buildings are supported by two federal agencies—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—and will feature state-of-the-art marine life tanks and cutting-edge science labs. (More) (Remarks)

Statement From Undersecretary Blank on August 2009 Retail Sales

Department of Commerce seal.

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau today released retail sales for August 2009.Retail sales rose 2.7 percent in August, well above the increase of 2.0 percent private analysts had expected. Motor vehicle sales jumped 10.6 percent, while sales excluding motor vehicles increased 1.1 percent, and sales excluding motor vehicles and gasoline rose 0.6 percent. These data come after four straight quarterly declines in retail sales. (Statement) (Census Release)

NIST Submits Master Plan for Gaithersburg Campus

View of Gaithersburg campus. Click for larger image.

Courtesy HDR Architecture, Inc./Steve Hall
© Hedrich Blessing

Planned and potential expansions and new facilities across campus, the addition of 400-500 kilowatts in power from solar panels, and increasing already-heavy employee use of alternative transportation to a daily rate of 40 percent are among the highlights of an updated Master Plan for the Gaithersburg, Md., campus of the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST has delivered its plan to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), the central planning agency for federal land and buildings in the National Capital Region. (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on President Obama's Intent to Nominate Hirschhorn as Under Secretary for Industry and Security

Bueau of Industry and Security logo.

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate attorney Eric Hirschhorn to be the Under Secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). Hirschhorn is currently a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Winston & Strawn LLP. "Eric Hirschhorn has a wealth of experience working with export controls and I look forward to having him onboard as we implement President Obama's vision to reform the export control system and increase competitiveness of U.S. companies by facilitating the sale of our goods while protecting national security," Locke said. (More) (White House press release)