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Blog Entries from May 2009

Commerce Secretary Locke: "Time is Running Out" to Receive TV Converter Box Coupons Before June 12 Switch

TV Converter Box Coupon Program logo. Click to visit DTV2009 Web site.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke is urging Americans who need help getting ready for the national switch to digital television (DTV) to apply for a converter box coupon no later than Monday, June 1, in order to receive it before the June 12 transition. "Time is running out. Americans who rely on free television who aren’t prepared for the transition should apply for a coupon today if they need help purchasing a converter box so they can continue receiving the television programming they count on," Locke said. (More) (Apply for Coupon) (

USPTO: May 29 Last Day for National Medal of Technology and Innovation Nominations

Image of National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

The Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking nominations for the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement. The USPTO administers the NMTI program on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce. The deadline for nominations is May 29, 2009. Honorees are chosen for outstanding contributions to the nation’s economic, environmental and social well-being through the development and commercialization of technological products, processes and concepts; technological innovation; and development of the country’s technological manpower. (More)

NOAA Announces New Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites

Satellite image of Hurricane Katrina. Click for larger image.

Scientists from Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have teamed up with experts from the University of Maryland and North Carolina State University to form the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites. The new institute will use satellite observations to detect, monitor and forecast climate change, and its impact on the environment, including ecosystems. “To help us understand climate change, we have to find ways to best leverage all of our available resources, including the information we get from satellites,” said Mary Kicza, assistant administrator for NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service. (More)

Commerce Secretary Announces $19.5 Million More for Ike/Gustav Recovery Efforts

EDA seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced an additional $19.5 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) investments to aid the ongoing economic recovery following the devastation caused last year by hurricanes Ike and Gustav. Last week, the Obama Administration announced $20.9 million of investments for the Gulf Coast region to assist in the recovery. “The Obama Administration is committed to creating jobs, encouraging innovation and improving our nation’s competitiveness,” Locke said. (More)

Secretary Locke Urges Sacramento Residents to Prepare for June 12 Switch to Digital Television

Left to right: Congresswoman Doris Matsui, Secretary Gary Locke and Mayor Kevin Johnson. Click for larger image.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke joined Congresswoman Doris Matsui and Mayor Kevin Johnson at the Sacramento public library to urge residents to prepare for the national switch to digital television (DTV) before the June 12 deadline. In the final month before the national switch, the Commerce Department is increasing its outreach efforts into communities that have been identified as the least prepared for the transition, including the Sacramento area. While the city has made progress since February—the original date for the switch—Sacramento is among the top 10 least-prepared cities in the country, according to Nielsen data. (More)

Census Bureau Announces Guam Economy Grew by 36 Percent, 2002-2007

Census Bureau seal.

Guam’s economy generated $6.2 billion in sales in 2007, up from $4.6 billion in 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Economic Census of Island Areas: Geographic Area Series for Guam. The economic census profiles Guam’s economy every 5 years. The 2007 census data include statistics for Guam and its 19 election districts for businesses with paid employees. These data for Guam are available through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder, an online data tool that allows users to access, filter, manipulate and extract data. Guam is a U.S. territory in the western Pacific Ocean. (More)

NOAA Observes National Hurricane Preparedness Week

NOAA seal.

To reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Hurricane Preparedness Week May 24-30, 2009. History teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. The goal of this Hurricane Preparedness Web site is to inform the public about the hurricane hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to take action. This information can be used to save lives at work, home, while on the road, or on the water. (More)

NOAA Issues Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, Encourages Preparedness

Secretary Locke and officials at airport with NOAA plane in background. Click for alrger image

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters say a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season is most likely this year. However, as with any season, the need to prepare for the possibility of a storm striking is essential. “Today, more than 35 million Americans live in regions most threatened by Atlantic hurricanes,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said at a Washington, D.C. area airport. “Timely and accurate warnings of severe weather help save lives and property. Public awareness and public preparedness are the best defenses against a hurricane.” (More)

NIST Defining the Expanding World of Cloud Computing

Image of laptop computer.

Photo: Shutterstock

A working definition for cloud computing—a new computer technique with potential for achieving significant cost savings and information technology agility—has been released by a team of computer security experts at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Since the federal government is considering cloud computing as a component of its new technology infrastructure, it is NIST’s role to evaluate it and then promote its effective and secure use within government and industry by providing technical guidance and developing standards. (More)

USPTO to Hold On-Line Chat for Independent Inventors

Photo of USPTO campus.

USPTO Alexandria campus

Senior officials of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will be available live on-line Thursday, May 21, 2009 from 2 to 3 pm (EDT). They will be answering questions and offering tips for independent inventors. Instructions for taking part in the on-line chat will be posted on the home page of the USPTO web site at 10 AM (EDT) Thursday. Inventors can begin logging on for the chat at 1:30 pm. The independent inventor on-line chat is part of the USPTO’s continuing effort to promote and protect America’s independent inventor community. (More)

President Obama Proclaims World Trade Week

Official White House logo.

In a proclamation from the White House, President Barack Obama declared “World Trade Week is an opportunity to reaffirm the benefits of trade and to emphasize America's commitment to a global marketplace that creates good jobs and lifts up American families. The United States and our trading partners stand to gain when trade is open, transparent, rules-based, and fair, showing respect for labor and environmental standards. The United States is well-positioned to reap the benefits of trade. America is a leader in the global marketplace and ranks at the top of almost every measure of global competitiveness.” World Trade Week is May 17-23. (Presidential Proclamation) (Secretary Locke Remarks)

NOAA Report: Four Fish Stocks Declared Fully Rebuilt

Monkfish in buckets. Click for larger image.

NOAA’s Fisheries Service of the Commerce Department reported to Congress that four stocks—Atlantic bluefish, Gulf of Mexico king mackerel and two stocks of monkfish in the Atlantic—have been rebuilt to allow for continued sustainable fishing. This is the largest number of stocks to be declared rebuilt in a single year since the fisheries service declared the first stock successfully rebuilt in 2001. “Rebuilding these four stocks so they can support the highest sustainable harvest for future generations of Americans is a significant milestone,” said Jim Balsiger, acting NOAA assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. (More)

Locke, Chu Announce Significant Steps in Smart Grid Development

Chu, Locke ande Arnold at White House press conference. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced significant progress that will help expedite development of a nationwide “smart” electric power grid. A Smart Grid would replace the current, outdated system and employ real-time, two-way communication technologies to allow users to connect directly with power suppliers. The development of the grid will create jobs and spur the development of innovative products that can be exported. Once implemented, the Smart Grid is expected to save consumers money and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by improving efficiency and spurring the use of renewable energy sources. (More)

Commerce Secretary Locke Participates in Port of Seattle Terminal 30 Grand Opening

Photo of ribbon cutting ceremony. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke returned to Washington state for a ceremony marking the rebuilt Terminal 30 at the Port of Seattle. He joined officials from the port, China Shipping–including its president Li Shaode. In his remarks, the Secretary said “I believe this port is another step in bringing our two nations closer together, a step that will ultimately improve the quality of life for both peoples.”

Secretary Locke Statement on National Travel and Tourism Week

Photo of Gary Locke.

File Photo

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke released the following statement on the observance of National Travel and Tourism Week: “Last year, a record 58 million travelers visited the United States to conduct business, see family and friends, and experience our big cities, small towns and incredible natural wonders. As we celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week, we are reminded that the industry benefits every state and U.S. territory, employing more than eight million workers across the country.” (More)

Secretary Locke Meets with Korea's Trade Minister Kim Jong-Hoon

Locke and Kim at conference table with aides. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke hosted a meeting with South Korea’s Minister for Trade Kim Jong-Hoon at the Commerce Department, the first meeting between Minister Kim and Secretary Locke. Locke and Kim recognized the importance of the $83 billion in goods trade between the two countries in 2008. They expressed support for continuing to deepen cooperation on trade and investment issues. “Korea, with a $1 trillion economy, is our eighth largest export market, and the Department of Commerce is committed to ensuring that U.S. companies can compete and win in this vibrant Asian market,” said Secretary Locke. (More)

Secretary Locke Statement on March 2009 Trade Numbers

Department of Commerce seal.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued the following statement on the release of the March 2009 U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services report by the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Today’s report showed that U.S. exports decreased by 2.4 percent to $123.6 billion since February 2009. Imports decreased 1.0 percent to $151.2 billion. Overall, the trade deficit grew 5.5 percent during the same time period. “Today’s numbers are better than many economists predicted, and it’s worth noting that the trade deficit is half of what it was in the first quarter of 2008.” (More) (Fact Sheet)

Secretary Locke Urges Americans to Prepare for June 12 Switch to Digital Television

Categories: logo. Click to go to Web site.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke is urging Americans to prepare for the national switch to digital television (DTV) before the June 12 deadline—just 30 days from today. In the final month before the national switch, the Commerce Department is increasing its outreach efforts into communities that have been identified as the least prepared for the transition. “With just 30 days to go, Americans who haven’t prepared for the transition to digital need to act now to ensure they will be able to continue to receive the television programming they count on,” said Secretary Locke. (More)

Over 7,000 Attend Two-Day National Trademark Expo

(Posing left to right): Dennis the Menace, Congressman Jim Moran, Debbie Cohn, John Doll and Curious George officially open the 2009 National Trademark Expo. Click for larger image.

It began on Friday morning with a parade of 25 trademark characters, music from the Air Force Band’s Ceremonial Quintet, speeches and a ribbon cutting. It ended on Saturday when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s normally quiet weekend campus sprang to life with thousands of kids and their parents flocking to the National Trademark Expo. Attendees enjoyed and interacted with such iconic trademark costume characters as Popeye, Olive Oyl, Dennis the Menace, Betty Boop, Curious George and Sprout. Expo visitors also learned more about the vital role trademarks play in the global economy at 15 exhibit booths and by attending educational workshops. (More) (Photo Gallery)

NOAA Researchers: Blue Whales Re-establishing Former Migration Patterns

Blue whale spouting. Click for larger image.

Scientists have documented the first known migration of blue whales from the coast of California to areas off British Columbia and the Gulf of Alaska since the end of commercial whaling in 1965. In the scientific journal Marine Mammal Science, researchers from Cascadia Research Collective in Washington state, NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in California, and Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans identified 15 separate cases where blue whales were seen off British Columbia and the Gulf of Alaska. (More)

Secretary Locke to Meet with Supply Chain Industry Leaders, Keynote Conference

International Trade Administration logo.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will deliver keynote remarks at the Game Changers in the Supply Chain Infrastructure: Are We Ready to Play? Conference on Monday, May 11. The conference, jointly hosted by the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Transportation, is the first meeting between supply chain industry leaders and key Administration officials to discuss how America’s freight infrastructure must be improved to boost the competitiveness of U.S. firms in the global economy. A live webcast of the keynote address will be available beginning Monday, at 9:00 a.m. EDT. (Webcast) (Remarks)

New Study: Home Energy Savings Are Made in the Shade

Image of house and garage shaded by trees. Click for larger image.

Trees positioned to shade the west and south sides of a house may decrease summertime electric bills by 5 percent on average, according to a recent study of California homes by researchers from Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The first large-scale study of its kind, the research paper considers the effects of shade on 460 single-family homes in Sacramento during the summer of 2007 and provides hard statistics showing how well-placed shade trees can reduce energy costs and atmospheric carbon as well. (More)

Secretary Locke Meets with Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

Minister of Trade and Secretary of Commerce with other attendees of meeting. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke hosted a meeting with Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Toshihiro Nikai, the first meeting between Minister Nikai and Secretary Locke. In their meeting, Locke and Nikai recognized the progress made by the Commerce Department and METI under the Joint Initiative for Enhanced U.S.-Japan Cooperation on Intellectual Property Rights and other global issues and expressed support for continuing to deepen cooperation on trade and investment issues. “It is important for the United States and Japan, as the two largest economies in the world, to show strong leadership during these challenging economic times,” Locke said. (More)

NOAA, U.S. Coast Guard: New Ocean Current Data to Improve Search and Rescue Activities

Image of helicopter with responder hovering over water rescuing a victim. Click for larger image.

U.S. Coast Guard Photo

A new set of ocean observing data that enhances the ability to track probable paths of victims and drifting survivor craft should improve search and rescue efforts along the U.S. coast. The data comes from the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS®), part of a joint effort among Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security. The new data sets include surface current maps from high frequency radar systems. (More)

Secretary Locke Sworn in at White House Ceremony by Vice President Biden

Image of Scretary Locke.

File Photo

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden in ceremonies at the White House. President Barack Obama also attended the ceremonial swearing-in event in the East Room. “My Cabinet is now full of energetic innovators like Kathleen and Gary. . . I am thrilled to have them by my side as we continue the work of turning our economy around and laying a new foundation for growth that delivers on the change the American people asked for, and the promise of a new and better day ahead,” President Obama said. Locke, a key member of the President’s economic team, is the department’s 36th Secretary, leading its 12 agencies and bureaus and more than 52,000 employees. (President’s Remarks)

Secretary Locke Discusses Trade Promotion Agreement with Colombian Minister for Trade

Minister Plata and Secretary Locke talk while seated in chairs. Click for larger image.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke hosted a meeting with Colombia’s Minister for Trade, Industry and Tourism, Luis Guillermo Plata, at the Commerce Department today. This was the first meeting between Minister Plata and Secretary Locke. The Secretary and Minister Plata reaffirmed the commitment of both governments to move forward on progress towards the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement. The two leaders also underscored the importance of building stronger business ties through activities like joint cooperation in trade capacity-building for small- and medium-sized enterprises and good governance programs. (More)