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FYI Number 98: June 23, 2005

Senate Appropriators Send DOE Science Funding Bill to Floor

The Senate Appropriations Committee has sent its FY 2006 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill to the floor. Senate Report 109-084 accompanying H.R. 2419 includes a strong statement regarding the government funding of the physical sciences, and provides the committee's recommendations for various physics-related programs.

The Senate bill's recommendation for the Office of Science is $36.6 million higher than the House bill (note that Senator Pete Domenici's (R-NM) subcommittee had a higher budget allocation than the House subcommittee.) Here are the numbers (which include all budget items such as "Safe Guards and Security" in the Office of Science budget):

The current budget is $3,599.9 million.

The Bush Administration requested a cut of 3.8% in the FY 2006 budget to $3,462.7 million.

The House bill would increase the budget by 1.8% or $66.2 million to $3,666.1 million.

The Senate bill would increase the budget by 2.9% or $102.8 million to $3,702.7 million.

Excerpts from the committee report follow (earmarks and program descriptions have been omitted in the interest of space); the full report may be accessed at http://thomas.loc.gov/ under "Committee Information." Readers should compare the below Senate language for specific programs with that contained in the House report; see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/072.html. Information on the Bush Administration's request can be found at http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/016.html.

GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES:

"Investment in the physical sciences and engineering plays a critical role in enabling U.S. technological innovation and global economic leadership. It is essential to the development and utilization of our energy resources, as well as innovations in the areas of defense, the environment, communications and information technologies, health care and much more. Over the past 50 years, half of U.S. economic growth has come from prior investment in science and technological innovation. Life expectancy has grown from 55 years in 1900 to nearly 80 years today.

"The United States has been the undisputed world leader in the physical sciences for the past six decades, an investment strategy that has led to huge gains in our national security, economic prosperity and overall quality of life for all U.S. citizens. Federal support for fundamental research in physics, chemistry, materials sciences, and other scientific disciplines crucial to U.S. industry has been a major contributor to this national success story.

"But the foundations for the future of the physical sciences are eroding. The Department of Energy's Office of Science, which is the leading source of Federal investment for R&D facilities and fundamental research in the physical sciences, is at a crossroads. At a time when our international competitors are significantly scaling up their investments in the physical sciences (the European Union will soon double its overall funding for R&D), funding for the Office of Science and other U.S. agencies has been flat or even declining. This comes at a time when U.S. industry is scaling back its investments in long-term research in the physical sciences in an effort to remain competitive in the short term.

"This trend is not uniform or irreversible. Significant investments in key areas of science, most of which are supported by DOE's Office of Science, will keep our Nation at the forefront of future research into the physical sciences. The future health of our national system of physical sciences R&D can be restored by focused investments in three areas: major scientific user facilities that support the physical sciences; the university scientists who conduct world class research and train our next generation of scientific talent; and DOE's national laboratories, which are the Nation's crucible for multidisciplinary work in challenging aspects of the physical sciences that cannot be performed elsewhere.

"The Office of Science has done commendable work planning for the future of the physical sciences in the United States. A 20-year investment plan for the new research facilities that our Nation needs is being implemented but existing capabilities cannot be sacrificed to purchase new facilities. The Committee urges that the Office of Science research programs work closely with their university counterparts to make joint investments that ensure the vitality of physical science academic departments.

"The Government must tap into the enormous capabilities of the Office of Science and regain world leadership in the physical sciences. DOE user facilities should be operating at their designed capacity, providing key discovery opportunities for thousands of new researchers every year. University research programs in nanoscience, catalysis, mathematics and physics should be expanded to ensure training of the next generation of outstanding scientists needed to solve important national problems. Multidisciplinary research at the national laboratories should be encouraged to meet national challenges in defense, energy production and the environment. Taken as a whole, these investments will ensure U.S. leadership in the physical sciences and the vitality of the U.S. economy.

"The Office of Science operates many of the Nation's most advanced large-scale user facilities of importance to all areas of science. These state-of-the-art facilities are shared with the science community world-wide and contain technologies and instrumentation that are available nowhere else. These facilities serve tens of thousands of users in laboratories, universities, industry, and other Federal agencies, and represent large Federal capital investments. Over the last several years many of these facilities have operated below optimal levels. In order to rectify this situation, the Committee has provided funding to restore operations of the SC user facilities to optimal levels by providing an additional $100,000,000 for facility operations allocated as follows: $20,000,000 in Basic Energy Sciences; $3,000,000 in High Energy Physics; $49,000,000 in Nuclear physics; and $28,000,000 in Fusion Energy Sciences."

HIGH ENERGY PHYSICS:

The Senate bill would cut funding for the High Energy Physics Program by 2.6% or $18.8 million, from $735.7 million to $716.9 million. The House bill would provide $735.9 million. The Bush Administration requested $713.9 million. The report states:

"The Committee recommendation includes $716,933,000 for high energy physics, an increase of $3,000,000 [over the request], to provide operational funding to ensure full utilization of facilities. . . . "

"The Committee recognizes the critical importance of the DOE/NASA Joint Dark Energy Mission [JDEM] in answering fundamental questions about the nature and substance of the universe. Consequently, the Committee encourages the Department to move JDEM forward aggressively to ensure the timely accomplishment of this important work."

NUCLEAR PHYSICS:

Senate appropriators recommend an increase of 3.7% or $14.9 million in the Nuclear Physics Program budget, from $404.8 million to $419.7 million. The House bill would provide $408.3 million. The Administration request was $370.7 million. The report states:

"The Committee recommends $419,741,000 for nuclear physics, an increase of $49,000,000 to ensure full utilization of experimental facilities. . . . "

"Rare Isotope Accelerator- The Committee requests the Department to submit a report within 120 days after the enactment of this Act, with information critical to moving forward with the site selection of the Rare Isotope Accelerator. The report shall include, but not be limited to, (1) the status and progress of the conceptual research and development supporting the development of RIA over the past 6 years; (2) the priority research areas the Department will complete prior to site selection for RIA; (3) the process by which the Department selects recipients for its research and development funding; (4) how the results of current and future research and development may affect the design of RIA or the path forward; (5) what technical hurdles remain before RIA site selection can resume; and (6) what funding will be required to clear those hurdles and what is the expected length of time for completion of these activities.

"Finally, the Committee requests the Department clarify its plans to move forward with RIA, provide an estimate of when the draft request for proposals will be reissued, and assess whether in a constrained budget environment the Department has any concern that RIA, as it is currently envisioned, will not be built. If the Department anticipates that future budgets will not allow for RIA, the Committee requests the report provide alternatives and explain how the Nation would meet our need for the fundamental physics knowledge and training of scientists applicable to national security and homeland security that RIA would provide."

BASIC ENERGY SCIENCES:

Senate appropriators recommend an increase of 12.4% or $136.4 million in the Basic Energy Science Program budget, from $1,104.6 million to $1,241.0 million. The House bill would provide $1,173.2 million. The Administration request was $1,146.0 million. The report states:

"Within available funds, the Committee recommendation includes $7,280,000 for the Department's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. The Committee provides $5,000,000 to purchase additional fuel for the High Flux Isotope Reactor.

"Research

"The Committee recommendation includes $1,062,944,000, the amount of the request, for materials sciences, engineering research, chemical sciences, geosciences, and energy biosciences. The Committee recommendation includes $4,500,000 for Altair Nanotech for nanotechnology, nanosensors, and nanomaterials research, development, and deployment.

"Energy-Water Supply Technologies- The Committee recommendation includes an additional $25,000,000, within the chemical sciences, geosciences, and energy biosciences account, to support a research and demonstration program to study energy-related issues associated with water resources and issues associated with sustainable water supplies for energy production. . . . "

"Construction

"Spallation Neutron Source- The Committee recommendation includes the budget request of $41,744,000 to continue construction at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Spallation Neutron Source [SNS] to meet the Nation's neutron scattering needs.

"Nanoscale Science Research Centers- The Committee recommendation supports the high priority given to nanoscale research and has included the budget request for the nanoscale science research centers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the joint effort between Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

"National Nanotechnology Enterprise Development Center- The Committee directs $30,000,000 for the establishment of the National Nanotechnology Enterprise Development Center [NNEDC], to be co-located with the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies [CINT], a joint facility of Sandia National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Committee intends that the NNEDC will assist in the technological maturation of nanotechnologies developed at the National Nanoscience Initiative facilities. The mission of the NNEDC will be to identify nanotechnologies developed at the national laboratories and partnered universities that are promising candidates for commercialization and to assist in their transition to the marketplace. The Center will be directed by employees of Sandia National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory and will emphasize opportunities for industry partnership with the CINT."

FUSION ENERGY SCIENCES:

Senate appropriators recommend an increase of 6.1% or $16.7 million in the Fusion Energy Science Program budget, from $273.9 million to $290.6 million. The House bill would provide $296.2 million. The Administration request was $290.6 million. The report states:

"The Committee provides $290,550,000, the same as the budget request. The Committee has provided $28,000,000 in additional funding to ensure the full operations on the DIII-D, Alcator C-Mod, and NSTX fusion research facilities. The current budget reduces operations from 48 weeks to just 17 weeks, which the Committee believes is an irresponsible use of the taxpayer investment in these facilities. The Committee has reduced funding for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor [ITER] by $28,000,000, equal to the amount domestic research has been increased. The Committee is disappointed that a decision has not been made in selecting a site for the location of this international burning plasma user facility. Without a final decision on a location or allocation, the Committee is skeptical the Department will be able to expend the full budget request for this project in fiscal year 2006. If a site is selected, the Committee will work with the Department to provide an allocation that is consistent with the expected needs for this project. Within available funds, the Committee includes $1,000,000 for non-defense research activities at the Atlas Pulse Power facility."

BIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH:

Senate appropriators recommend a cut of 13.4% or $78.2 million in the Biological and Environmental Research Program budget, from $581.9 million to $503.7 million. The House bill would provide $525.7 million. The Administration request was $455.7 million ($79.6 million in earmarks were not included.) The report contains considerable language regarding research on climatic change, the Genomes to Life program and a lengthy list of earmarks. Other sections of the report language states:

"Molecular Medicine. The Committee continues to support research that brings together PET imaging, systems biology and nanotechnology to develop new molecular imaging probes. These probes should provide a biological diagnosis of disease that is informative of the molecular basis of disease and specific for guiding the development of new molecular therapies.

"The Committee is concerned about the consequences [of] mitigation activities and public health impact associated with the threat of any radiological event and strongly encourages the Department to develop therapeutical radiological countermeasures to protect against exposure to the effects of ionizing radiation. The Committee is aware of the potential of inositol signaling molecules as a therapy for exposure to ionizing radiation and encourages the Department to support research of this emerging technology. The Committee recommends $7,000,000 for UCLA Institute for Molecular Medicine to protect the public health against radiation exposure."

ADVANCED SCIENTIFIC COMPUTING:

Senate appropriators recommend a cut of 10.9% or $25.4 million in the Advanced Scientific Computing Program budget, from $232.5 million to $207.1 million. The House bill would provide $246.1 million. The Administration request was $207.1 million. The report states:

"The National Leadership Computing Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will provide the scientific community with the computing capability needed to solve problems out of reach of currently available systems and lead to significant advancements in areas such as biology, fusion, and climate change. Unfortunately, the budget request for this effort would halt the next phase of machine acquisitions and provides inadequate funding to operate the system that will be installed during fiscal year 2005.

"The Committee strongly supports the National Leadership Computing Facility and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's leadership in this important area. Full operation of the National Leadership Computing Facility at ORNL is necessary to keep domestic researchers and industries competitive with their global counterparts. The Committee will work to ensure that sufficient funding is provided to meet the next phase of machine acquisitions and encourages the Department to focus its efforts on enhancing and expanding activities at the National Leadership Computing Facility."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3095

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