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FYI Number 105: August 15, 2001

House Energy Bill: DOE Office of Science Provisions

The House passed its version of a National Energy Policy (H.R. 4)
on August 1, just before Congress left on its month-long summer
recess. The bill is a wide-ranging piece of authorizing
legislation, incorporating the work of several different House
committees. The Science Committee crafted a portion of the bill
which, among other things, sets authorization levels for the
Department of Energy's Office of Science and some of its
programs. FYI #104 provides some general information on the
energy bill; below are more details on the House's authorization
levels for DOE civilian science programs. It is notable,
however, that the House and Senate have already passed their
versions of Energy and Water Development funding bills; while the
bills must be reconciled in conference, authorization levels set
at this late date may have little impact on the appropriations
process.

The House-passed energy bill would authorize $3,299.6 million for
DOE's Office of Science for FY 2002. Current-year funding is
$3,155.5 million; the Administration's FY 2002 request is
$3,159.9 million. This authorization level is greater than what
congressional appropriators would provide: the House Energy and
Water Development appropriations bill would give $3,166 million,
while the Senate appropriations bill would provide $3,268
million.

Within the Office of Science, the House bill sets specific
authorization levels for fusion energy sciences and for
construction of the Spallation Neutron Source. Fusion Energy
Sciences would be authorized at $320 million for FY 2002 and $335
million for FY 2003 under the House energy bill. This
authorization level, as well as findings that the current fusion
budget is inadequate and a requirement for the Energy Secretary
to develop a plan for a Burning Plasma Experiment, were taken
from provisions of H.R. 1781, "The Fusion Energy Sciences Act of
2001," sponsored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) (see FYI #65). The
Administration requested, and the House and Senate appropriations
bills both would provide, $248.5 million for DOE's fusion program
in FY 2002, the same as current-year funding.

H.R. 4 would authorize $276.3 million in FY 2002, the amount
requested, for continued construction of the Spallation Neutron
Source. The bill sets authorization levels through completion of
construction in 2006, as follows: FY 2003: $210.6 million; FY
2004: 124.6 million; FY 2005: $79.8 million; and FY 2006: $41.1
million. Specific authorizations levels are not given for High
Energy Physics, Nuclear Physics, or other Office of Science
programs.

The House's energy package calls on the Director of OSTP, in
consultation with the Secretary of Energy, to establish an
Advisory Panel on DOE's Office of Science to "(1) address
concerns about the current status and the future of scientific
research supported by the Office; (2) examine alternatives to the
current organizational structure of the Office within the
Department, taking into consideration existing structures for the
support of scientific research in other Federal agencies and the
private sector; and (3) suggest actions to strengthen the
scientific research supported by the Office that might be taken
jointly by the Department and Congress."

On the Senate side, Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) is also expected to address the
organization of DOE's Office of Science in his energy bill.
Bingaman is reportedly considering recommendations made in a
December discussion paper by several prominent physicists (see
FYI #5), and may suggest creating the position of Under Secretary
for Science, or raising the status of the Director of the Office
of Science to the level of Assistant Secretary for Science.

It is worth remembering that the energy bill is an authorization,
not appropriations, bill. The Senate version will certainly be
very different, and reconciling the competing versions is likely
to be contentious and may drag on long after the appropriations
bills for FY 2002 are completed. Authorizers may recommend
funding levels they think are appropriate, but the actual funding
decisions are made by appropriators who are constrained by the
budget resolution, their subcommittee allocations, and the trade-
offs they must make to fund other programs under their
jurisdictions.

Audrey T. Leath
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
(301) 209-3094

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