U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware

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  • Senator Coons convenes bipartisan roundtable on innovation

    Senator Coons, along with Senators Thune, and Wyden met with TechNet CEOs and Senior Executives to discuss digital trade, IP protection, and corporate tax reform on April 1, 2014.

    Senator Coons, along with Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), met with chief executive officers and senior executives from the nation’s leading technology, venture capital, and e-commerce, companies Tuesday to discuss key issues affecting American innovation. Executives from Bloom Energy, CISCO, Oracle, and other leading technology firms shared their perspectives on proposed trade agreements, corporate tax reform, intellectual property protection, and other policy priorities.

    “America is the world’s leading source of cutting-edge technology,” Senator Coons said. “The technology companies represented today employ nearly a million Americans and are key drivers of our innovation economy. Congress can and should support American innovators by working together to open up markets abroad, protect intellectual property, and build a competitive tax code that incentivizes innovation. I am grateful to all the industry leaders who participated in today’s conversation and look forward to continuing to work with them to promote our global competitiveness.”

    Senator Coons has established himself as a leader on innovation policy by introducing a series of bills that support research and development, and help innovative small businesses grow to create jobs. He introduced the Innovators Job Creation Act with Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) earlier this year and the Startup Innovation Credit Act with Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) last January to help startups and other small companies take advantage of valuable R&D tax credits.

    He also teamed up with Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) this year to introduce legislation that would modernize the United States’ national lab system to make the innovation pipeline more efficient and give labs new flexibility to partner with the private sector.

    Senator Coons was recognized as a 2014 TechVoice Champion earlier this year by CompTIA and TECNA, two technology policy groups representing thousands of U.S. technology firms, for his work in support of innovation and America’s small and medium-sized technology firms.

  • New initiative will promote safety improvements for oil by rail

    While rail transportation has proven an efficient means of transporting North America’s growing supply of crude oil, increased oil by rail traffic has also raised serious environmental and safety concerns in recent years.

    Following several recent, high-profile accidents by trains transporting crude oil – including a December derailment in North Dakota in which 400,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled – the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Association of American Railroads (AAR) have come together to announce the roll out of new safety measures for crude by rail operations.

    The agreement institutes an array of new safety measures to prevent train derailments, including implementation of new, more effective breaking technology and traffic routing technology that determines the safest and most secure routes, increased track inspections, and reduced speed requirements through designated urban areas.

    “Our rail safety procedures must keep pace with the rapidly changing landscape of North American oil production,” Senator Coons said. “In January, a derailment in Philadelphia nearly ended in disaster, and over the last year, devastating crashes in communities from North Dakota to Alabama have underscored the need to update and strengthen freight safety measures. The improved safety procedures announced by DOT and AAR are an important step in what must be a sustained effort to protect our communities and environment from future disasters.” 

    North American oil production has expanded rapidly in recent years thanks to growing production in the Canadian oil sands and increased shale oil production in North Dakota, Montana, and Texas. Nearly 70 percent of the United States’ crude oil demand is now supplied from production in North America, displacing imports from overseas. This crude oil boom has created new transportation challenges as producers have increasingly turned to rail to transport oil to refineries in market hubs across the U.S., including PBF’s refinery in Delaware City.

    According to rail industry estimates, U.S. freight railroads carried more than 400,000 carloads of crude oil in 2013, compared to 9,500 carloads in 2008. In just the last three years, crude imports by rail from Canada have increased more than 20-fold. PBF’s Delaware City Refinery, which directly supports 500 jobs in Delaware, receives 1-2 unit trains of Bakken crude oil shipments per day.

  • Sen. Coons talks manufacturing, innovation with Delaware MIT alums and American Chemical Society members

    Senator Coons meets with Delaware MIT alums and members of ACS Delaware Section on January 17, 2014.

    Local scientists, chemists and engineers packed the dining room at Brantwyn Estate on Friday to engage in open discussion with Sen. Coons about his recent work in Washington to promote advanced manufacturing and innovation. The event was the sixth joint meeting of the MIT Club of the Delaware Valley and the Delaware Section of the American Chemical Society.

    Chris, who holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Amherst College and worked for eight years for a materials-based science company, shared his genuine excitement about invention and innovation, as well as his keen understanding of the financing challenges materials-based science companies face. He discussed his efforts in the Senate around these issues, including leading the Manufacturing Jobs for America campaign to grow our nation’s manufacturing sector, introducing the America INNOVATES Act to modernize aspects of our national lab system, and working on new bipartisan legislation to reauthorize investments in basic science and technology through innovative programs like the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). 

     “I’m trying to help make the connection in the Senate between advanced manufacturing, research and development, and job opportunities,” said Chris. “America is and can continue to be one of the most productive manufacturing countries in the world, but manufacturing relies very heavily on R&D, on patents, and on continuous innovation.”

    “At a time of scarce public resources, science is a critical investment,” Chris continued. “Right now, I need your voice, because there are very few in Congress who understand the compounding value of investment in basic and applied science, about the risks we face in intellectual property, and the importance of getting STEM education at the elementary school level right. We've got huge challenges ahead but also great opportunities – in green chemistry, in reimagining advanced polymers, in advanced manufacturing – and I'm looking forward to working with you to ensure our nation remains a leader in science.”

  • Senator Coons Designates American Technological Innovation Day

    A bipartisan resolution sponsored by Senator Coons declaring October 29, 2013 to be “National Technological Innovation Day” was adopted by the Senate Monday. The declaration recognizes the important role of technological innovation in job creation and the U.S. economy, and was timed to celebrate the anniversary of ARPANET, the Internet’s precursor, created on October 29, 1969. The resolution was led by Senator Coons and co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of senators, including Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga).

    “America has produced some of the world’s most transformative technological innovations that have helped our economy prosper while advancing societies across the globe,” Senator Coons said. “I hope that National Technological Innovation Day will encourage Americans across the country to pause to appreciate the great work of those who came before, and rise to the challenge of becoming the next generation of inspirational American thinkers and inventors.”

    A significant portion of our economy’s growth can be traced to new innovations. Since our nation’s founding, American innovators have produced the light bulb, the polio vaccine, the transistor (the main component of a computer chip), communications satellites, Global Positioning System, and the Internet, to name just a few. National Technological Innovation Day recognizes the role of America’s innovative spirit in individuals who have started successful companies and pushed the frontiers of science in the lab. More than one-third of Nobel prizes awarded, 347 in total, have gone to American citizens, reflecting the domestic culture of achievement we have created.

    The resolution designating National Technological Innovation Day calls on individuals to observe the day by participating in activities that celebrate the history of innovation in the US, such as educational events and exploration of how modern devices work. It also encourages American youth to continue to enhance the future by pursuing invention and entrepreneurship.

  • University of Delaware awarded $3 million energy innovation research grant

    Senator Coons is proud to announce that the University of Delaware (UD) has been awarded a $3 million research grant by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to help produce technologies than can convert natural gas into liquid fuels for transportation uses. The award was granted as part of a $34 million ARPA-E project called Reducing Emissions using Methanotrophic Organisms for Transportation Energy, or REMOTE, focused on gas to liquid transformations. As one of Delaware’s leading research organizations, UD aims to engineer a synthetic organism capable of converting waste gases from industry and electricity production into a liquid fuel capable of powering transportation, among other practical uses.

    “Our nation’s vast supply of waste gases represents a significant untapped resource with the potential to further U.S. energy independence and reduce the strain on our environment,” Senator Coons said. “I am thrilled that the University of Delaware is leading the way on this groundbreaking research, and I thank ARPA-E for their continued support of innovative energy projects in Delaware.”

    Over the past few years, funding from ARPA-E has helped to keep Delaware on the cutting edge of the advancing clean energy economy, and Chris has been leading the effort in the Senate to ensure that ARPA-E is able to continue to invest in America’s innovative new technologies.

    Earlier this year, ARPA-E awarded UD researchers $790,000 to focus on high voltage flow batteries, and in 2010, the university received a $4.4 million grant to develop a new generation of high-energy magnets used to operate hybrid electric vehicles, wind turbines, and other high-performance electric machines. DuPont also received an $8.9 million ARPA-E grant to develop a commercially viable process for the production of an advanced bio-fuel from seaweed.

    Created in 2007 as part of the America COMPETES Act, ARPA-E is a federal agency designed to support innovative research into energy technologies and bring those technologies to the marketplace for the betterment of society. The agency was modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a parallel institution focusing on military research that helped produce the Internet and GPS technology. By channeling research funds toward select projects, ARPA-E helps to cultivate groundbreaking energy technologies that would otherwise be overlooked by the private sector and bridge the gap between basic energy research and social innovation.

  • Senator Coons congratulates Delaware EPSCoR on launch of climate change project

    Senator Coons congratulated Delaware’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Thursday on the launch of its third grant project, and commended the program’s accomplishments over its ten-year history in the state. The National Science Foundation awarded a five-year, $20-million Research Infrastructure Improvement grant to Delaware EPSCoR in June for research focused on sea level rise and renewable energy.

    “For ten years, the EPSCoR program has brought Delaware’s best and brightest scientists and educators together to pioneer innovative technologies and train the next generation of experts in rapidly growing fields,” Senator Coons said. “Each successive grant project has expanded our universities’ capacity to produce cutting-edge research, and helped Delaware become a leading hub for science and technology education. This grant will allow Delaware EPSCoR to continue supporting its successful programs and address the critical effects of climate change on our coastal areas.”

    Delaware’s project will focus on water quality and renewable-energy use in vulnerable coastal areas subject to pressures from land use and climate changes. The research employs natural, physical, and social science approaches to examine the effects of rising sea levels on the cycling of soil-bound contaminants. The project will also investigate coupled land use and climate change impacts on water and natural systems ranging from tidal wetlands to agricultural land, to densely populated and polluted urban areas. Novel sensors will be developed for environmental monitoring. The project will also address renewable energy, including offshore wind.

    The University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Wesley College, and Delaware Technical Community College will collaboratively address these themes using innovative research approaches and educational programs. The project includes public outreach activities and partnerships with private industry and government.

    EPSCoR is designed to fulfill the National Science Foundation's (NSF) mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide. Twenty-eight states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam are currently eligible to participate. Through the program, NSF establishes regional partnerships with governments, higher education, and industry that strengthen states’ research and development capacities and boost academic competitiveness. Delaware was designated an EPSCoR state in January 2003, and program grants awarded in 2005 and 2008 have supported two previous projects focused on enhancing environmental science, complex environmental systems, and ecosystem health research.

    Delaware was one of only five states awarded an NSF grant for science and engineering academic research.

  • Senator Coons says trade secrets are a vital part of U.S. intellectual property

    Senator Coons attended an oversight hearing last week that demonstrated how U.S. intellectual property is a key driver of our economy and made clear the importance of IP enforcement efforts.

    At the hearing, Victoria Espinel, the President’s Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, referred to a March 2012 report by the Department of Commerce that estimated IP-intensive industries contribute $5 trillion dollars annually to the U.S. economy.  Chris thanked Victoria for her work to coordinate IP enforcement, which last year saw a 33% increase in enforcement activity stemming from just a 5% increase in funding.

    Chris also pointed out that the Department of Commerce report looked only at patents, copyright and trademark, but did not examine the role of trade secrets.  Like patents, trade secrets are advancements which enable a business to make something more quickly, more cheaply, or better performing.  The weaving technology that allows DuPont to turn strands of fiber into Kevlar body armor is a trade secret, as is the formula behind Coca-Cola.  Trade secrets, unlike patents, can last far into the future, so long as the owner keeps them secret and a competitor is not able to reverse-engineer the advance.

    At the hearing, Chris also warned that trade secret theft is a growing problem and, in many cases, is done at the direction of foreign governments.  “I can tell you,” Coordinator Espinel responded, “trade secret theft is an enormous priority for us, and I think it’s clear that . . . the negative implications for our ability to compete globally when we lose trade secrets . . . are very significant.”

    Although the FBI increased the number of criminal trade secret cases by 29 percent last year, more work remains to be done.  Chris is an original cosponsor of the Economic Espionage Penalty Enforcement Act, which aims to address the problem of low sentences for these crimes.  Chris has also spoken about his desire to create a federal civil private right of action for trade secret theft, which would provide businesses with a uniform, reliable, and predictable way to protect their valuable trade secrets anywhere in the nation.


    Intellectual Property
  • ICYMI: Senator Coons’ op-ed on global Internet freedom

    The Huffington Post: Senator Chris Coons, a co-chair of the Senate Global Internet Freedom Caucus, penned an op-ed on Thursday supporting the right of citizens around the world to use the Internet to exchange thoughts, opinions, and expressions. The op-ed argues it is America’s duty to ensure foreign governments and the private sector are working to preserve the basic right of Internet freedom.

    Popular movements and entrenched governments both clearly see how the unique power of the Internet can spread democratic ideas and demands for human rights and basic freedoms.

    These fundamental values, which should be granted to citizens around the world as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are central to who we are as Americans.

    We must continue to pursue an American foreign policy that protects the "right to connect" as a U.S. foreign policy priority. The Senate Global Internet Freedom Caucus advocates for the promotion of policies that promotes rights of all people to use the Internet and other forms of technology to exercise basic freedoms globally. In order to achieve this goal, we must engage with governments, individuals, and the private sector to preserve the Internet as an open platform for commerce and communication.

    Click here to read the full op-ed on The Huffington Post's website.

    Click here to learn more about Chris’ work on foreign relations.

    Foreign Policy
  • Combating violations of the Do Not Call Registry

    Over the last six weeks, our office has heard from a number of constituents who are signed up for the national Do Not Call Registry, yet are still receiving solicitation calls at home. Many of the calls seem to come from one entity, “Cardholder Services,” which continues to contact Delawareans even if they are in the Do Not Call Registry.

    We are taking action to address this problem as quickly as possible.

    In the past, the Federal Trade Commission took action against a telemarketing scam where a solicitor identifies themselves as “Rachel from Cardholder Services.” It seems as if those behind the current calls have picked up the audio and dialing technology from that scam.

    The FTC is working to shut down as many of these copycats as they can, but they have advised us that the best defense is a good offense. So, we want to spread the word among Delawareans: never share your credit card number, Social Security number, or any other personal information with unsolicited, unknown callers. Getting phone calls at home is annoying, but the consequences of identity fraud can be devastating.

    Many of these “Cardholder Services” calls claim to be able to negotiate lower interest rates with your credit card companies, if you just pay them a fee first.  Don’t fall for it! It is illegal to take fees upfront before providing services, and the FTC says that the companies behind these calls can’t do anything for you that you can’t do for yourself – for free.

    If you have received calls like these despite being on the Do Not Call Registry, you can file a complaint at www.donotcall.gov or by calling 1-888-382-1222. You should also feel free to contact Senator Coons’ Wilmington office at (302) 573-6345.

  • Advancing clean energy through solar power

    Senator Coons checks out a solar panel in Dover, Delaware

    While Capitol Hill continues to be the center of continuing debate regarding the way forward for our economy, scores of Americans in Delaware and across the country are taking decisive measures to advance clean energy solutions through solar power.

    In order to reengage and revitalize our workforce, and facilitate a long-term sustainable energy industry, the United States must invest in clean alternative energy sources. Over the last year, solar power has emerged as one the fastest growing industries in America.  According to the Solar Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of global energy needs through greater use of solar energy technologies, more than 100,000 jobs have been created within the solar industry. Between August 2010 and August 2011, an estimated 6,735 new solar jobs were created, accounting for an industry growth of 6.8 percent. 

    Delaware has taken an active role in bolstering the growing solar industry sector. SolarDock, a Delaware-based solar company, has expanded 400 percent since 2007 and boasts clients that include Fortune 500 businesses, manufacturing and warehouse facilities, schools and universities, retail centers and medical facilities.

    The rise of the solar industry has translated into lower unit costs and greater accessibility for consumers.  According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s “Tracking the Sun IV” report the average cost of installing residential and commercial solar photovoltaic systems in the U.S. dropped a record 17 percent in 2010, and it continued to drop an additional 11 percent through the first-half of 2011.

    Delaware is also on the leading edge of solar technology research.  The University of Delaware’s Solar Energy Program continues to build upon groundbreaking research in the efficiency of solar cells.  In September, UD’s solar program was successful in winning $7.8 million in research funding through a recent Department of Energy’s solar Sunshot Awards announcement.

    Just as Delaware has remained on the forefront regarding clean energy, Chris has remained a staunch advocate of investing in innovative, efficient, and ecologically friendly pathways forward in energy development.  In his role as a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, he is committed to finding practical ways to incentivize investments in clean energy projects and boost commercialization of alternative energy industries. 

    To learn more about Chris’ energy priorities and his work on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, click here.

    Department of Energy
    Solar Power
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