FY 2000 DOE Appropriations Bill Sent to President
Under this bill, HIGH ENERGY PHYSICS funding would increase $16.3 million, or 2.4%, to $707.9 million. Congress approved more than what DOE requested, which was $697.1 million. Current year funding is $691.6 million. When the Senate passed its version of this bill in June, it did not include requested R&D funding for the TeV scale center of mass accelerator, saying "The estimated cost of such a facility prohibits its serious consideration in the foreseeable future." The final bill reinstates this $12.0 million, the House-Senate conference report saying: "The conferees do have serious concerns about the early cost projections of this planned facility and urge the Department to consider reasonable expectations of budgets and significant international participation during the early planning process for this proposed facility." Take note.
NUCLEAR PHYSICS funding would increase $13.5 million, or 4.0% to $352.0 million. Congress also approved more than what DOE requested, which was $342.9 million. Current year funding is $338.5 million. The conference report states: "The conference agreement does not include the Senate provision eliminating funding for the Bates Linear Accelerator Laboratory."
FUSION ENERGY SCIENCES funding would increase $27.4 million, or 12.3% to $250.0 million. This is also more than DOE requested, which was $222.6 million. Current year funding is $222.6 million. After so many years of reductions, this double-digit increase is notable. A number of studies have been done on the fusion energy sciences program in recent years. To those who might wonder what impact these reports have, the conference report offers illumination: "The conferees are pleased with the highly supportive recent report on fusion energy science from the Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board and with the comprehensive scientific plan developed by the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC). The FESAC plan should be used by the Department as guidance in the allocation of the resources provided for fusion energy sciences." A future FYI will summarize these reports.
Funding for inertial fusion is provided in the defense activities section of this bill. FY 2000 funding for this will be $10.0 million over DOE's request, or $475.7 million. This is $32.3 million less than the current amount.
BASIC ENERGY SCIENCES funding would decline by $16.4 million, or 2.1% to $783.1 million. DOE requested $888.1 million. Current year funding is $799.5 million. There are two major components to this request: research and the Spallation Neutron Source, where the major cut was made. About research, the conference report states: "The conferees included very modest reductions to BES research programs and they strongly oppose any effort by the Department to target one laboratory when allocating this reduction."
The Spallation Neutron Source is funded by the Basic Energy Sciences budget. The final bill contains a total of $117.9 million for the SNS for FY 2000. DOE had requested $214.0 million. Congress provided the full SNS R&D request of $17.9 million. It provided $100.0 million of the requested $196.1 million for construction. This reduction in construction funding is a classic case of "is the glass half-full or half- empty?" The Senate bill had approved far more for construction, the House bill far less. Earlier this year, House Science Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) had urged that"No SNS FY 2000 Construction Funds Should Be Appropriated." This finding followed a March visit by Sensenbrenner to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In May, the full House Science Committee voted (on a tie vote) to prohibit SNS construction funding. Committee staff hurriedly worked out a compromise, which the House Science Committee approved unanimously. That compromise was in the DOE R&D authorization bill passed by the House on September 15. The Senate has not acted on its own version of this bill. For those wondering what role the House Science Committee has in this budget process, the conference report language is instructive: "The conferees have provided the same amount [for SNS construction] authorized in the House-passed authorization bill."
This bill awaits the President's signature, which the White House indicates will be forthcoming.
Richard M. Jones
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics