Office of Science Director Ray Orbach offered candid remarks last
week to the DOE Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee. Meeting in
suburban Washington, this committee, chaired by John Hemminger,
discussed the recent hydrogen energy workshop and facilities such as
the Linac Coherent Light Source and the Spallation Neutron Source.
Orbach began his remarks saying the report of the hydrogen energy workshop
) was a "tremendous success," adding that "it speaks
to the relevance of this committee." He quickly reminded the committee
that "It's one thing to announce the hydrogen economy, it's another
thing to get us there." Turning to Patricia Dehmer, Director of
the Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Orbach asked for the development
of a plan or a path-forward, of next steps to be taken, saying that
DOE is firmly behind hydrogen energy as a major initiative. President
Bush, Orbach said, sees as part of his legacy the development of a hydrogen-fueled
vehicle. "If we don't start now, that prophecy won't take place,"
Orbach stated. Earlier in the meeting the committee heard about follow-up
activities to this report from Harriet Kung, BES Program Manager of
Physical Behavior of Materials. The committee was told that Kung is
the chief contact point for the hydrogen energy program at the Department
Orbach usually includes in presentations, as he did in this committee
meeting, his observations about the importance of advanced
computation, saying that the "opportunities are phenomenal."
as examples the development of new materials for fission, fusion
materials and human exploration of Mars. Orbach praised House Energy
and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David
Hobson (R-OH) for his support of advanced computation. "People
really do care about the consequences of this field," Orbach said.
Also discussed was the twenty-year facilities plan for the Office of
Science. Saying that it "proved to be considerably more difficult
than I had imagined," Orbach described the plan's six year epochs
near term, midterm, and long-term. Twenty-eight projects are
scheduled. Orbach will sign off soon on the first steps needed to
start the process for near term projects. "Clearly we are not going
to make it" on the outlined schedule, since funding has yet to
secured, he warned. Although not all projects successfully made it
into the plan, Orbach defended the process. Energy Secretary Abraham
will release this plan on November 10 at the National Press Club.
His remarks, at 1:00 pm EST, will be broadcast live on National
Public Radio and C-SPAN.
Orbach turned his attention to the near term funding situation,
explaining that the Office of Science appropriations bill will not be
signed until November. The energy policy bill, stuck in conference
for unrelated reasons, has "wonderful" authorization numbers,
said. Calling the consequences of this bill's passage for the Office
of Science "enormous," Orbach explained that it has been 15
since the last authorization bill was passed. "It is the future
the Office of Science," he said, offering his appreciation for
support of congressional committees and the science community.
Regarding the FY 2005 budget, Orbach stated that it was now under
development, and that the numbers are still in play. Concluding his
remarks, Orbach said the attitude toward his office had never been
more positive, and that "there was a real understanding of science