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Newsbriefs for June 2012

| By Chemical Engineering

U.S. House approves cybersecurity bill to ease information sharing

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a measure that would ease information sharing among chemical firms and other companies with facilities that are vulnerable to cyberattacks. The bill has been met with much controversy: President Obama has threatened a veto and the Senate has been circulating a different bill aimed at cybersecurity, although no vote has been held in that chamber.

Sponsored by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), CISPA would give businesses and the federal government legal protection to share cyberthreat information with each other. The government does not currently share these data because the information is classified and companies fear violating antitrust laws. The bill would remove legal barriers, making it easier for chemical firms, and other businesses, to do so.

“The intelligence community has the ability to detect these cyberthreats, these malicious codes and viruses, before they are able to attack our networks,” says Ruppersberger. “But right now, federal law prohibits our intelligence community from sharing classified cyberthreats with the companies… that control the networks — the AT&Ts, the Verizons, the Comcasts.”

“We have the ability to give them information to protect us, yet we have to pass a law to do that,” the Congressman added.

The Obama administration threatened a veto and privacy and civil liberties groups claim that, under CISPA, what is defined as consumer data and permitted to be shared is overly broad. The bill’s authors have added amendments to appease concerns, such as limiting the federal government’s use of private information and restricting which cyberthreat data can be shared. The Obama Administration is also seeking regulatory mandates for critical infrastructure providers, which are not contained in CISPA, which is one of four cybersecurity bills currently under consideration.

GE (Atlanta, Ga.; recently announced the opening of GE Shenhua Gasification Technology Co., a 50-50 joint venture (JV) with Shenhua Group to advance the development and deployment of “cleaner coal” technology solutions in China.

The new company combines GE’s expertise in industrial gasification technologies with Shenhua’s expertise in coal gasification and coal-fired power generation. The JV will sell industrial gasification technology licenses in China, conduct research and development to improve cost and performance of commercial-scale gasification and integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) solutions and work to advance the distribution of commercial-scale IGCC technology.

Gasification technology has become a critical tool in the expansion of the Chinese economy, allowing a wide variety of industrial products and fuels to be created from low-cost abundant coal resources. With more than 50 licensed facilities in China, GE’s gasification technology is one of the most widely deployed in the industry.

Shenhua is one of the world’s largest coal and energy companies, with integrated coal production, power generation, railway, port and shipping infrastructure. Shenhua also has a national role in the development of new coal-related technologies.

China and the U.S. are the two biggest energy consumers in the world.

Jacobs receives contract from Evonik for new chemical plant

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (Pasadena, Calif; says it was awarded a contract from Evonik Industries AG (Essen, Germany; to provide basic engineering services for an investment in a grassroots polyamide-12 production facility in Asia.

Officials did not disclose the contract value. Jacobs has been working closely with Evonik’s project team in Marl, Germany to develop the conceptual design for the new plant, which is based on Evonik’s existing plants in Germany. Members of the integrated project team are operating from Jacobs’ office in Leiden, The Netherlands to undertake the FEED (front-end engineering design) work, supported by Jacobs’ office in Mumbai, India.

Under a separate framework contract signed in 2011, Jacobs is providing engineering services as the owner’s engineer on Evonik’s process industry projects worldwide.

Edited by Scott Jenkins