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Blog Entries from June 2010

NOAA, FDA, and Gulf Coast State Officials Affirm Commitment to Ensuring Safety of Gulf Coast Seafood

Federal and state agencies will use joint protocol for reopening closed waters

Image of tubs of shrimpGulf Coast state health and fisheries officials joined with senior leaders from several federal agencies to affirm a shared commitment to ensuring the safety of seafood coming out of the Gulf of Mexico, through closures of affected waters, surveillance, and with an eye toward reopening closed waters as soon as possible, consistent with public health goals.

Representatives from Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency met last week in New Orleans with state health officers and state fisheries directors from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to coordinate implementation of a joint protocol for sampling and reopening that will apply to both state and federal waters.  

Together, they will implement a comprehensive, coordinated, multi-agency program to ensure that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe to eat. This is important not only for consumers who need to know their food is safe to eat, but also for fishermen who need to be able to sell their products with confidence.

Read more  |  Official statement of acceptance of protocol  |  Summary of the reopening protocol

Secretary Locke Blog: Help Now Available for Employers Offering Early Retiree Health Insurance

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services began accepting applications for a program that provides much needed financial relief for employers – as well as unions and state and local governments – providing coverage to early retirees.

The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program will provide $5 billion in financial assistance to help maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare - another example of how health care reform is, and will continue to be, good for business.

As health care costs have skyrocketed, it has become harder for employers to provide health insurance not only to their current employees but also their retirees. A survey found that over the past several decades the percent of firms offering retiree health insurance has dropped by more than half. In 1988, two-thirds of large firms provided health benefits to retiring workers. In 2009, less than a third did so.  See the Secretary's White House blog

For applications and more information about the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program visit

Secretary Locke Lauds New National Space Policy as Pro Business

Image of rocket launchPresident Obama’s new National Space Policy sets goals and guidelines for American space activities and promotes a robust and competitive U.S. commercial space sector, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said today.  The policy also puts increased emphasis on space-based environmental observations and international cooperation, both critical functions of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The policy, released today, is the Obama administration’s first comprehensive policy guiding our endeavors in space. It addresses commercial space by directing government agencies to encourage and facilitate the growth of a U.S. commercial space sector through increased U.S. purchases of commercial space goods, reducing the regulatory impact on the space industry and actively promoting the export of U.S. space products.  Read more   White House fact sheet

Find additional information about the National Space Policy at

Secretary Locke Joins Presidents Obama and Medvedev for U.S.-Russia Business Summit

Photo of Medevev, Obama and Locke at table.Commerce Secretary Gary Locke participated in the U.S.-Russia Business Summit today alongside President Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Russia’s Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Talking with both U.S. and Russian business and association leaders, Locke discussed further developing bilateral commercial relations and highlighted examples of new plans for cooperation between U.S. and Russian companies. Locke and Nabiullina co-chair the U.S.-Russia Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group and together solicited input from Summit participants. Read more  White House "Reset" fact sheet   DOC Fact sheet  White House blog   Press conference video

Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Commerce's Economic Development Administration Launches Interactive Web Site

Satellite image of Florida

The Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development has launched an interactive Web site to encourage public comment on ways to promote economic growth and sustainability in the Space Coast region as it adapts to changes in America’s space program. The site offers valuable information about the work the Obama administration is doing to create jobs in the region by fostering a more supportive entrepreneurial environment.  Full release   Secretary Locke visit to Space Coast blog

Commerce's NIST Team Advances in Translating 'Language' of Nanopores

Image of nanopresScientists from Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have moved a step closer to developing the means for a rapid diagnostic blood test that can scan for thousands of disease markers and other chemical indicators of health. The team reports it has learned how to decode the electrical signals generated by a nanopore—a "gate" less than two nanometers wide in an artificial cell membrane. 

Nanopores are not new themselves; for more than a decade, scientists have sought to use a nanopore-based electrical detector to characterize single-stranded DNA for genetic sequencing applications. More recently, NIST scientists turned their attention to using nanopores to identify, quantify and characterize each of the more than 20,000 proteins the body produces—a capability that would provide a snapshot of a patient's overall health at a given moment. But while nanopores permit molecules to enter into them one at a time, determining what specific individual molecule has just passed through has not been easy.  Read more here

Secretary Locke Joins Vice President Biden for Intellectual Property Enforcement Strategy Event

Photo of officials at White House meeting.U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined Vice President Joe Biden and other administration officials today at the White House to introduce the U.S. Government’s intellectual property enforcement strategy. Participants included U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk and U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel. In her White House Blog, Espinel wrote,

“I am pleased to announce that today we unveiled the administration’s first Joint Strategic Plan to combat intellectual property theft.  The U.S. economy leads the world in innovation and creativity thanks to American inventors, artists and workers.  Our ability to develop new technology, designs and artistic works supports jobs and allows us to export great new products and services around the world. Our citizens need to feel confident that they can invest in new innovation and intellectual property, knowing it will be safe from theft.  Ensuring that our ideas and ingenuity are protected helps us create jobs and increase our exports.”

Intellectual property refers to the ideas behind inventions, the artistry that goes into books and music, and the logos of companies whose brands we have come to trust that must be protected. Intellectual property represents the hard work, creativity, resourcefulness, investment and ingenuity of the American public.  White House Intellectual Property Website   White House video

Commerce's Carribean Trade Mission Yields Positive Results for U.S. Firms

Dominican Republic and Jamaica offer small- and medium-sized companies opportunity

Wrapping up the administration’s first trade mission to the Caribbean, Commerce Department senior adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Wade stressed that geographical proximity and shared historical and cultural ties make the Dominican Republic and Jamaica prime destinations for U.S. goods and services. Wade led a 10-company U.S. trade mission to the region to promote export opportunities June 13-19.

“In today’s global marketplace, it is critical for companies to establish alliances with partners in other markets in order to be competitive,” Wade said. “Because of its close proximity and a favorable trading relationship over time, the Caribbean is a natural area for U.S. firms to explore new export opportunities that will result in more jobs for American workers.”

The United States is the primary trading partner for both countries. In 2009, U.S. exports to the Dominican Republic and Jamaica totaled $5.27 billion and $1.45 billion, respectively.  Read more  Upcoming trade missions

Secretary Locke, Cabinet and Government Officials Participate in President's National Conversation on Fatherhood Panel

Image of YoutTuve video-click for videoU.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke joined a panel discussion on President Barack Obama's National Conversation on Fatherhood today in Washington. The conversation is intended to address the challenge of father absence in many communities by encouraging personal responsibility among dads across the country and assessing how we can all work together–individuals, community and faith-based organizations, and the government–to strengthen families and support father involvement. Following the panel discussion, President Obama concluded the first year of this National Conversation with a speech at a community organization in Washington, D.C.   Obama remarks   Obama YouTube video   En español

Secretary Locke Announces $10.27 Million in Grants to Gulf Coast Region

Grants to aid economic recovery for communities impacted by BP oil spill

Following his second visit to the Gulf Coast to talk with local businesses impacted by the BP oil spill, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced today eight grants for the Gulf region totaling $10.27 million – most for economic development planning and coastal management.

Locke heard firsthand from affected businesses last week when he traveled to Mobile, Ala., Biloxi, Miss., and New Orleans, La.

“People’s livelihoods across the Gulf are at risk,” Locke said. “From day one, the Obama administration has been committed to containing the damage from the BP oil spill and extending to the people of the Gulf the help they need to confront this ordeal. These grants are one more aspect of the administration-wide commitment to doing whatever it takes to help folks deal with the unexpected challenges brought on by this environmental disaster.”

Three grants will be administered through the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and five other grants will be administered through Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (NOAA).  Read more

Secretary Locke Discusses Clean Energy Technologies at Energy Efficiency Forum

Secretary Locke on podium in front of audienceU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered the keynote address, "Connections between Energy Efficiency and the Economy” at the 21st annual Energy Efficiency Forum in Washington today. In his remarks, Locke said,

"Investments in emerging technologies like solar, wind and advanced batteries are vital to this nation's future, and the Obama administration is making unprecedented investments to help them grow. . . .  The president has already made $80 billion in clean energy investments through the Recovery Act – with a good portion going to the type of basic R&D that is often too risky or too expensive for private sector investors."

The 2010 Energy Efficiency Forum, sponsored by the U.S. Energy Association and Johnson Controls, brings together leading energy experts, policy makers, business executives, and top administration officials to discuss the critical role that energy efficiency in buildings, vehicles and industry plays as the foundation for international agreements, national strategies and local actions.  Remarks

Secretary Locke Addresses 78th Annual Meeting of U.S. Conference of Mayors

Image of conference video clip with president of mayor conference and LockeU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited Oklahoma City for the 78th annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors held at the Cox Convention Center. Locke addressed the crowd on the final day of the conference, and Commerce’s Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John Fernandez and Census Bureau Director Robert Groves spoke over the weekend. The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. Each city is represented at the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

On Sunday, a special session highlighted the conference with mayors from Gulf Coast cities dealing with the BP oil spill and its devastating after-effects. During the session, mayors discussed a resolution put forth by the mayors of Baton Rouge, La., and Tallahassee, Fla., that calls for increased federal efforts to access, mitigate and recover from the environmental and economic damage of the disaster and work closely with other local officials in all phases of the national response. Locke visited the Gulf Coast region last Thursday and spoke with local businesses that have been impacted economically by the oil spill. Remarks  Secretary's Conference video

Gainesville Region Receives Additional EDA Grant, University of Florida Breaks Ground for New Tech Business Incubator

Officials with shovels at groundbreaking ceremonyU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced a $1.670 million U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to Santa Fe College and the District Board of Trustees of Santa Fe College of Gainesville, Florida to build a biotechnology laboratory and classroom addition to the new Emerging Technologies Center. The project is expected to create 270 jobs and generate $380 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates.  More from Santa Fe College

U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez participated also in the groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Florida’s Innovation Hub in Gainesville, Fla.  The project received $8.2 million in funding from Commerce's EDA last year to help build the tech business incubator, which will serve as a catalyst for emerging and existing start-up companies seeking to bring to market technologies developed by the university and its research partners.  The project is expected to create 300 jobs and generate $30 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates.


NOAA Launches Website With Online Mapping Tool to Track Gulf Response

Image of mapping tool

The dynamic nature of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill has been a challenge for a range of communities--from hotel operators to fishermen to local community leaders. And the American people have questions about the response to this crisis.

Today, Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launches a new federal Web site meant to answer those questions with clarity and transparency--a one-stop shop for detailed near-real-time information about the response to the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill. The Web site incorporates data from the various agencies that are working together to tackle the spill.

Originally designed for responders, who make operational decisions, to the oil spill disaster, integrates the latest data on the oil spill’s trajectory, fishery closed areas, wildlife and place-based Gulf Coast resources--such as pinpointed locations of oiled shoreline and daily position of research ships--into one customizable interactive map.

Image of Deep Drill 3 platformThe launch of the public site is designed to facilitate communication and coordination among a variety of users--from federal, state and local responders to local community leaders and the public--the site is designed to be fast, user-friendly and constantly updated.

Beyond NOAA data, the site includes data from Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, the Fish and Wildlife Service, EPA, NASA , U.S. Geological Survey and the Gulf states . Agencies contribute data through the response data sharing mechanism within the command posts. This includes posting geospatial data on a common server, allowing access and use for multiple spatial platforms.

“This Web site provides users with an expansive, yet detailed geographic picture of what’s going on with the spill; Gulf Coast fisherman, recreational boaters, beach users and birders will be able to become more informed,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. “It’s a common operational picture that allows the American people to see how their government is responding to the crisis.”

Developed through a joint partnership between NOAA and the University of New Hampshire’s Coastal Response Research Center, the site is a Web-based GIS platform designed specifically for response activities where it is necessary to coordinate with various federal, state and local agencies. The site will serve as the official federal source for map-based data.  Interactive Map   Deepwater Horizon update

Senior Commerce Official Wade to Lead Trade Mission to Dominican Republic and Jamaica

Rick Wade, senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, will lead a delegation of 10 small- and medium-sized U.S. businesses on a trade mission to Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, and Kingston, Jamaica, June 13-19 to promote U.S. exports in the Caribbean.

The trade mission will give participating U.S. companies the opportunity to meet with potential business partners and network with key Dominican and Jamaican government and industry officials. The business delegation will promote U.S. products and services in a range of consumer goods, construction and automotive sectors with foreign buyers and governments.

Trade missions are an important component to achieving the goals of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports within five years to support the creation of two million jobs. This mission will help open doors for U.S. firms interested in entering or expanding their presence in the Caribbean region. Read more

Secretary Locke Visits Gulf Coast, Holds Economic Impact Meetings With Business Leaders

At the direction of President Obama, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke travels to the Gulf Coast today to meet with local officials and business owners impacted by the BP oil spill. In Mobile, Ala., Biloxi, Miss., and New Orleans, La., Locke will hear directly from area businesses affected by the disaster.

During his visit to the region, Locke will hold economic impact meetings in all three cities and fly over the coastal regions of the Gulf between Biloxi and New Orleans. Mayor Mitch Landrieu will join Locke at the New Orleans meeting. In the evening, Locke will visit a bait shop to hear how the oil spill has affected the business.

The Obama administration has mobilized one of the largest responses to a catastrophic event in history, authorizing 17,500 National Guard troops from Gulf Coast states to participate in the response. More than 24,000 personnel are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife and cleanup vital coastlines, and more than 4,500 vessels are responding on-site, including skimmers, tugs, barges and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts.

Read more

USPTO: New Exhibit on Food Opens at National Inventors Hall of Fame

Mr. Peanut® character costumeUnder Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos and Alexandria, Va.,  Mayor Bill Euille presided at the opening ceremony of this unique, new exhibit today at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria. This is the first major exhibit installation to come to the National Inventors Hall of Fame since it was relocated to Alexandria from Akron, Ohio, in March 2009.

Inventive Eats: Incredible Food Innovations highlights how our breakfast cereals, sandwiches, dinner entrees and more have been transformed by significant events, discoveries and inventions. It features the important role many of the National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees have played in the array of appetizing innovations that have made the food we eat safer, healthier and more economical.

Image of walk-in kitchen from 1950sVisuals include:

  • A full-size Mr. Peanut® character costume from the 1960s, used for Planters marketing, and additional Mr. Peanut artifacts
  • A 1950s fully stocked walk-in kitchen
  • 19th century patent models, including models of a refrigerator, an egg beater, a flour sifter and the original Mason jar
  • Displays of other well-known trademark food characters, such as the Pillsbury Doughboy® and the Green Giant®
  • A Tappan vintage microwave from 1955, the first for home use 
  • A 19th century patented beehive

Secretary Locke Co-Hosts CNBC's 'Closing Bell With Maria Bartiromo'

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is in New York City today to co-host CNBC’s “Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo” live from the New York Stock Exchange. Locke will discuss his recent clean energy trade mission to China and Indonesia and the steps the Obama administration has taken to right the economy with host Maria Bartiromo during the second hour of the show’s broadcast. He is the first Cabinet Secretary to co-host the program. “Closing Bell” airs Monday through Friday from 3-5 p.m. EDT and covers the last hour of trading in the U.S. stock markets. Program video clip.

Rick Wade Discusses Haiti's Recovery and Reconstruction Needs in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania companies gained insight into medium- and long-term plans for rebuilding efforts in Haiti and learned how they can engage in the process today at a Haiti Reconstruction Forum in Philadelphia. Rick Wade, senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and head of the Commerce Department’s Haiti business outreach, delivered the conference’s opening and closing remarks.

“Addressing Haiti’s tragedy has been a clear priority for the Obama administration and significant resources have been devoted to help the victims of the earthquake,” Wade said. “Many U.S. and international firms will play a crucial role in Haiti’s recovery by providing the type of investment and technical training that Haiti needs to ensure its long-term development.”

Hosted by the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration and the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, the event connected public sector experts in procurement, trade and financing with Pennsylvania companies offering expertise in critical areas such as power and energy, transportation and port construction, housing, health care, machinery and apparel joint ventures.


NOAA and Partners Urge Beach-Goers to 'Break the Grip of the Rip'

Break the Grip of the Rip brochure imageWith summer vacation on the horizon, Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States Lifesaving Association, and the National Park Service are alerting beach-goers to the threat of rip currents and how to prevent drowning from their strong and potentially fatal grip.

Rip currents are the leading near-shore surf hazard, claiming more than 100 lives per year nationally. For that reason, the three organizations are teaming up to sponsor the Rip Current Awareness Campaign from June 6 through 12, with the theme Break the Grip of the Rip®.

NOAA’s National Weather Service forecast offices issue surf zone forecasts, which include rip current information during the summer beach season between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It is important to remember though that rip currents can occur anywhere there is surf.

“Every year, more than 75 million visitors come to swim, fish, snorkel, scuba dive, boat and enjoy the wildlife and majestic scenery in our coastal national parks,” said Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. “To enhance our ability to provide visitors with the latest information on water safety, we are pleased to team up with NOAA and the United States Lifeguarding Association to educate our visitors about water safety.”

Read More
Awareness Week
: June 6-12, 2010

Secretary Locke, NASA Administrator Bolden Hold Town Hall Meeting on Space Coast Economy

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke addresses business and industry leaders during a town hall meetingU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. are in Orlando, Fla., today for a town hall meeting to hear directly from local leaders working to strengthen and diversify the Space Coast economy. Locke discussed the Obama administration’s continued commitment to job creation and strengthening of the economy, as well as address the May jobs report released this morning indicating that the economy added 431,000 jobs last month

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden speak to reporters during a town hall meetingThe Obama administration is committed to taking steps to help Florida's Space Coast adapt and thrive in the years ahead. President Obama recently launched the Presidential Task Force on Space Industry Work Force and Economic Development, a $40 million, multi-agency initiative for regional and economic growth to assist the Space Coast as the country's space exploration efforts expand and transform. The Task Force, co-chaired by Locke and Bolden, is leading the initiative to coordinate and implement a plan to grow the region’s economy and prepare its workers for the opportunities of tomorrow. The interagency effort will build on and complement ongoing local and federal economic and workforce development efforts. Remarks

NOAA Administrator Discusses NOAA Ship Research Mission to Spill Area

Alternate TextCmdr. Shepard Smith, commanding officer, Administrator Lubchenco and Larry Mayer at press conference.NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, a 208-foot survey vessel, sailed from New Orleans today to conduct a 10-day mission in the vicinity of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Researchers will take water samples and test advanced methods for detecting submerged oil while gathering oceanographic data in the area's coastal waters.

NOAA Ship Thomas JeffersonDr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, Cmdr. Shepard Smith, commanding officer, NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson and Larry Mayer, professor and director, University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping held a news conference in New Orleans to discuss the research mission. Administrator Lubchenco offered more information on the NOAA effort on a live CNN segment earlier in the day.

Tracking the Spill
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson dispatched to Gulf of Mexico
NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson ship information and background

USPTO Teams With Google to Provide Bulk Patent and Trademark Data to the Public

Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos announced today that the USPTO has entered into a no-cost, two-year agreement with Google to make bulk electronic patent and trademark public data available to the public in bulk form. Under this agreement, the USPTO is providing Google with existing bulk, electronic files, which Google will host without modification for the public free of charge.  This bulk data can be accessed at

"The USPTO is committed to providing increased transparency as called for by the President’s Open Government Initiative. An important element of that transparency is making valuable public patent and trademark information more widely available in a bulk form so companies and researchers can download it for analysis and research,” said Under Secretary Kappos. “Because the USPTO does not currently have the technical capability to offer the data in bulk form from our own Web site, we have teamed with Google to provide the data in a way that is convenient and at no cost for those who desire it.”

Read more