After Congress returns on January 6 it will need to vote on legislation to fund the operations of the federal government through September 30. The staffs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will be working through the holiday recess to have final legislation ready for a vote in the House and Senate. Current funding expires on January 15.
Important decisions will be made in the coming weeks about funding levels for federal departments, agencies, and programs. AIP and two of its Member Societies - the American Astronomical Society and the American Physical Society - signed an Energy Sciences Coalition letter to key appropriations chairmen urging them to provide strong support for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy. The text of this December 20 letter follows:
“Dear Senators Feinstein and Alexander and Representatives Simpson and Kaptur:
“As you negotiate final FY 2014 funding levels for the Department of Energy (DOE), the undersigned organizations representing universities, businesses, and the scientific community, urge you to assign a high priority to funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E). Federal investment in fundamental and high-risk research that would not otherwise be supported by industry is the proper role of government. This is exactly the type of research that is supported by DOE’s Office of Science and ARPA-E. Continued strong support for the research sponsored by these two DOE agencies is vitally important to securing our future national energy security, ensuring continued U.S. leadership in key fields of science, and to solving the fiscal and economic challenges facing the nation.
“The DOE Office of Science is the nation’s primary supporter of basic physical sciences research, providing over 40% of total federal support in this area. Sustained and predictable funding for the DOE Office of Science is also critical to ensure U.S. leadership in other fields including the biological sciences, advanced materials, computing, and engineering. The DOE Office of Science also supports the operation of the largest collection of major scientific user facilities in the world. These user facilities are the backbone of experimental and computational research in the U.S. and are relied upon by over 25,000 scientists from universities, companies, and Federal agencies to conduct their scientific and engineering research. The DOE Office of Science thus plays a critical role in developing the nation’s scientific and engineering workforce and in advancing the fundamental knowledge underpinning major energy and other technology-related breakthroughs.
“Modeled after the highly successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), ARPA-E supports high-risk, high-reward research that private industry will not support, but which has the potential to drastically alter how we generate, store, and use energy. ARPA-E focuses on transformational energy technologies that can be meaningfully advanced with a small investment over a defined period of time. Since 2009, ARPA-E has funded more than 350 projects across 38 states. Of these projects, seventeen projects alone have attracted over $450 million in private sector capital after ARPA-E’s initial investment of approximately $70 million.
“While we understand that you are working within a constrained budget, we strongly believe that providing stable and sustained funding increases for both the DOE Office of Science and ARPA-E must be a priority for the Congress. At the very time that our economic competitors in China, India, South Korea, the European Union, and elsewhere are copying our approach to innovation and increasing their rate of investment in basic and energy-related research, now is not the time to reduce vital federal funding for Department of Energy research and scientific facilities so critical to our future economic growth. We therefore urge your strong support for these two agencies as you make final decisions about FY 2014 funding levels.”
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