FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

First Information: FY 2013 Funding for the Department of Energy

Richard M. Jones
Number 53 - April 20, 2012  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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The FY 2013 appropriations process moved into a new phase with the drafting of several appropriations bills providing significant support for physics and related research programs. This week, the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee and the House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee voted their approval of two funding bills for the fiscal year starting on October 1.  These bills now go to the full House Appropriations Committee before they are sent to the floor.  Also this week, the full Senate Appropriations Committee passed the FY 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill.

This FYI provides excerpts from materials released by House appropriators relating to the Department of Energy.  A subsequent FYI will provide information regarding House and Senate appropriations for the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

From the April 18 statement of Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ):

“The bill for fiscal year 2013 totals $32.1 billion, $965 million below the request and $88 million above 2012. 
“This last figure - the above 2012 part - is a little misleading. There were many rescissions that we took in 2012 that we can’t take this year. Setting those aside, the bill is actually $623 million below last year. 
“Not surprisingly, we had to make some hard choices to reach that level, and I appreciate everyone’s help to get there. The recommendation continues to prioritize investments in our nuclear security enterprise, programs to address gasoline prices, and opportunities to advance American competitiveness, including the Corps of Engineers.”

“Overall, security funding is increased by $275 million over last year. Weapons Program funding for fiscal year 2013 is at the request, although we do make some changes to increase funding for some priority programs, like the W76 life extension program. Funding for Nonproliferation, although below the request, actually increases for some core programs. $100 million is provided to support new uranium enrichment activities.”

“Funding for American innovation and competitiveness also receives priority treatment. Within Science research, funding for the domestic fusion program is restored to last year’s level, and the international fusion program is increased to come closer to our commitments.

 “Nuclear energy is funded at last year’s level, an increase of approximately $90 million from the request. Within that level, the Small Modular Reactors program would receive $114 million in order to keep it on its five-year funding profile.”

“I can’t let a markup go by without a word about Yucca Mountain. The policy implemented in the recommendation is that Yucca Mountain is the law of the land, and any efforts to move past Yucca Mountain require Congressional action. The recommendation includes $25 million to move the project forward, along with similar language as last year’s prohibiting activities which would keep the facility from being unusable in the future.  The recommendation denies funding for Blue Ribbon Commission activities which need authorization. Research and development activities which do not need authorization and are to support Yucca Mountain are permitted.  This policy will ensure that we keep Congress in the driver’s seat for nuclear waste policy, not the Administration.”

From the April 18 opening statement of Subcommittee Ranking Member Peter Visclosky (D-IN):

“As you have already pointed out, the allocation for Energy and Water, $32.1 billion, is nearly one billion below the President’s budget request and $88 million over 2012. I know you were faced with very difficult decisions with this allocation.

“Let me first express my appreciation for the inclusion of additional funds for core Nonproliferation activities and the focus on American manufacturing.

 “I would also note my support for some of the things you did not do -- there are no new Department of Energy hubs or new starts in the Corps of Engineers.

“I do have concerns with amounts provided to certain accounts within the bill, in particular the reduction in funding relative to last year’s level for the Corps of Engineers and the Office of Science. I am convinced that if we do not make proactive investments in our physical and research infrastructure we are risking the economic competiveness of our nation. Unfortunately, despite the Chairman’s best efforts on these fronts, the Subcommittee’s allocation will result in a bill that continues the dramatic underinvestment in our nation’s waterways and scientists.”

From an April 17 House Appropriations Committee release:

“Nuclear Security -- The bill provides a total of $11.3 billion for DOE’s nuclear security programs, including Weapons Activities, Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Naval Reactors. This is a $275 million increase from last year. This critical national defense funding will maintain the safety and readiness of the nation’s nuclear stockpile -- including full funding of the President’s $7.6 billion request to modernize the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile and its supporting infrastructure. Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation is funded at $2.3 billion, $41 million less than fiscal year 2012. The bill also provides $1.1 billion for Naval Nuclear Reactors.”

“Energy Programs -- The bill provides funding to help support economic development and promote the nation’s energy independence. The bill includes $554 million - $207 million above last year’s level - for research and development to advance coal, natural gas, oil, and other fossil energy technologies that provide more than 83% of the nation’s energy. The bill also includes $765 million for nuclear energy research, development, and demonstration activities to further the next generation of safe, secure, and economically beneficial nuclear power options while ensuring the safety and longevity of our current plants. The bill includes $200 million to support the activities of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.” 

“Yucca Mountain -- The bill continues Congressional efforts to roll back the Obama Administration’s politically motivated Yucca Mountain policy that runs contrary to the will of the Congress and the American people. In this vein, the bill provides $25 million to support Yucca Mountain activities to continue the viability of the program for the future. “

“Science Research -- The bill includes $4.8 billion for science research. This funding will help strengthen innovation and help spur future economic growth through the development of high performance computing systems, basic scientific exploration, and research into the next generation of clean energy sources. Within this amount, the bill restores many of the cuts to the fusion energy program proposed by the President. This basic research will lay the groundwork for more efficient and practical domestic energy solutions in the future to help reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and help promote future growth in American businesses and industries.”

Further information on this bill will be provided after the committee report is released.  A review of the Administration’s FY 2013 request for various DOE programs is here.

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics