Alexander Says Congress Is On Track To Provide 5th Year Of Record Funding For 17 National Laboratories, Supercomputing

  • Thursday, September 12, 2019

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday unanimously approved legislation sponsored by subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) that includes the fifth consecutive year of record funding for the Office of Science – the most important Department of Energy program that supports work at our 17 national laboratories, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory – and keeps the U.S. number one in supercomputing.  

Senator Alexander said, “In March, I proposed a New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy – a five year project with Ten Grand Challenges that will use American research and technology to put our country and the world firmly on a path toward cleaner, cheaper energy. To provide the tools to create these breakthroughs, the federal government should double its funding for energy research and keep the United States number one in the world in advanced computing. That is why setting a new record funding level for the Office of Science – the fifth straight record year – is one of my top priorities.”

“The Office of Science supports basic science and energy research at our 17 national laboratories and is the nation’s largest supporter of research in the physical sciences. This fifth consecutive year of record level funding is important because it allows us to take advantage of the United States’ secret weapon, our extraordinary capacity for basic research.”

“This bill also includes funding to keep America number one in the world in supercomputing and build the next generation of supercomputers,” Senator Alexander said. “This funding will modernize our nuclear weapons facilities at Y-12 and accelerate cleanup of hazardous materials and facilities at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex.

“This bill also includes $7.75 billion – a new record funding level in a regular appropriations bill – for the Army Corps of Engineers to maintain and rebuild our nation’s waterways, including up to $92 million to fully fund construction at Chickamauga Lock for the sixth consecutive year. This is great news for East Tennessee since the new lock will help keep up to 150,000 trucks off I-75 and keep the cost of shipping goods low for manufacturers across the state.”

Senator Alexander is chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the Department of Energy; the Army Corps of Engineers; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the National Nuclear Security Administration; the Appalachian Regional Commission; and the Bureau of Reclamation.

According to the East Tennessee Economic Council, in 2017, the Department of Energy supported 34,360 jobs in 50 of Tennessee’s 95 counties and added $3.4 billion to the state’s economy.

On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the Fiscal Year 2020 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.

The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2020 includes the following priorities:

·        The U.S Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which supports basic science and energy research and is the nation’s largest supporter of research in the physical sciences, is funded at $7.215 billion, also a new record funding level.

·        The bill includes up to $7.75 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – a record funding level in a regular appropriations bill.

·        For the sixth consecutive year, the bill makes full use of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund revenues for water infrastructure projects, including up to $92 million to continue construction of Chickamauga Lock in Chattanooga.

·        The legislation includes $2.163 million for dredging at Memphis Harbor McKellar Lake.

·        The bill includes funding that exceeds the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) spending target established by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014.  This is the sixth consecutive year the bill has met or exceeded the HTMF spending targets. 

·        The bill includes $428 million, a record funding level, for the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). ARPA-E was created by the 2007 America COMPETES Act to invest in high-impact energy technologies, and the President’s budget request again recommended termination of the program.

·        The bill includes $1.87 billion for high performance computing, including $1.03 billion within the Office of Science and $839.85 million within the National Nuclear Security Administration.

o   This amount includes $829 million from the Office of Science and the NNSA to support the delivery of Exascale systems beginning in 2021 and continue U.S. leadership in this critical area.

o   It also includes $235 million for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, an increase of $35 million above last year.

·        The bill includes a total of $16.9 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration, including $2.1 billion for the five life extension programs, which fix or replace components in weapons systems to make sure they're safe and reliable.

·        The Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex is funded at $745 million, which will continue to keep this project on time and on budget, with a completion year of 2025 at a cost no greater than $6.5 billion.  

·        The legislation includes a pilot program to allow consolidated nuclear waste storage, supported by Senator Alexander and Senator Dianne Feinstein, the subcommittee’s ranking member, over the past six years. It also provides funding for the Department of Energy to support storing nuclear waste at private facilities.

·        The legislation sends a strong signal about our support for developing new technologies that will support the next generation of nuclear power plants. The bill includes $300 million for a new Advanced Reactors Demonstration Program.

·        The bill also includes $47 million for research and development to support existing nuclear reactors, and $30 million for the Transformational Challenge Reactor.

·        The bill advances efforts to clean up hazardous materials at Cold War-era sites. The bill includes $7.45 billion to support cleanup efforts, which is $982 million above the president’s budget request.  Included in this amount is $682 million for cleanup at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Y-12 National Security Complex.

·        The bill also continues to fund the regional commissions, including $175 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission and $30 million for the Delta Regional Authority.

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