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Tight Deadline: Letter Urges Support for DOE Office of Science

Richard M. Jones
Number 55 - May 11, 2011  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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Yesterday Members of the House of Representatives received a letter requesting that they demonstrate their support for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.  By noon tomorrow – Thursday, May 12 – representatives can sign a letter to Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Ranking Member Ed Pastor (D-AZ) to “express our strong support for robust and sustained funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, and the critical research, unique scientific facilities, and expert personnel that it supports.”  The letter requests: “we urge you to make strong and sustained funding for the DOE Office of Science one of your highest priorities in fiscal year 2012.”

The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to begin its mark-up of the FY 2012 appropriations bills this week.  Pressure on House appropriators will be severe as the House voted to cut FY 2012 discretionary spending by $31 billion as compared to FY 2011.

This “Dear Colleague” letter was sent by Judy Biggert (R-IL), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), and Anna Eshoo (D-CA).   Given the short deadline, your representative is far more likely to respond to this letter if contacted by a constituent.  The telephone number for the House of Representatives’ switchboard is 202-224-3121.

The letter follows:

Dear Chairman Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Pastor:

As you begin work on the Fiscal Year 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, we write to express our strong support for robust and sustained funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, and the critical research, unique scientific facilities, and expert personnel that it supports. 

We recognize the fragile state of the nation’s economy, and support efforts to reduce the deficit and create jobs.  But to do so, we must set priorities and make smart, strategic decisions about federal funding.  We believe that scientific research is the foundation for the innovative solutions that will enable us to overcome many of our greatest challenges – from economic stagnation and dependence on foreign energy to curing diseases and addressing threats to our national security.  That is why we believe funding for the DOE Office of Science must be a priority in fiscal year 2012. 

As the nation’s primary sponsor of research in the physical sciences, the DOE Office of Science has built - and maintains - a unique collection of large-scale, cutting-edge, one-of-a-kind user facilities relied upon by approximately 25,000 researchers annually. Nearly half of these users are university faculty and students. Others come from U.S. industry and many are conducting research for other key federal science agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Without these critical facilities, thousands of users would be forced to move their job-creating research activities overseas, or terminate their research altogether. 

The DOE Office of Science also supports a first-rate workforce of research scientists, engineers, and support personnel who work as teams on long-term solutions to some of the nation’s greatest challenges and who are ready to tackle pressing problems at a moment’s notice.  Moreover, it plays a unique and critical role in the education of the next generation of American scientific talent, including thousands of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at hundreds of U.S. institutions who depend upon DOE Office of Science support and facilities for their research and training. 

This collection of research, facilities and scientific talent has enabled the DOE Office of Science to contribute greatly to our quality of life, our health, and our security.  The DOE Office of Science has been integral to the development of several innovative technologies, including MRI machines and PET scans, new composite materials for military hardware and motor vehicles, medical and industrial isotopes, drop-in biofuel technologies, DNA sequencing technologies, more aerodynamic and fuel efficient long-haul trucks, electric vehicle battery technology, an artificial retina, newer and safer nuclear reactor designs, 3-D models of pathogens for vaccine development, tools to manufacture nanomaterials, and better sensors and detectors for biological, chemical, and radioactive materials.

By prioritizing funding for DOE scientific research—thereby supporting both the human and physical capital—Congress will preserve our capacity to innovate, reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy, enhance our competitive edge in the global economy, improve our quality of life, ensure our national security, and create good American jobs well into the future.  For these reasons, we urge you to make strong and sustained funding for the DOE Office of Science one of your highest priorities in fiscal year 2012.  

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