FY 2012 Senate Appropriations Bill for the Department of Energy: Science

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Publication date: 
13 September 2011
Number: 
109

The  Senate Appropriations Committee has approved its version of the FY 2012 Energy  and Water Development Appropriations Bill.   Accompanying this bill, H.R. 2354, is Senate Report 112-75 that details  the committee’s funding and policy recommendations that were developed by  subcommittee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and her colleagues.  This FYI will summarize the provisions of the  committee’s report for the Office of Science, and the Plutonium-238 Production  Restart Project under the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy  activities.  The full committee report  may be viewed here.   Page numbers in the committee report are  provided for reference and additional information.  All numbers in this FYI are taken from page  124 of the Senate committee report.  See  FYI #73 for the House report language.

NUCLEAR  ENERGY – PLUTONIUM-238 PRODUCTION RESTART PROJECT

Under  a section entitled “Radiological Facilities Management” the report states:

“Plutonium-238  Production Restart Project.—The Committee provides no funding for the  Plutonium-238 Production Restart project.” (page 84)

Pu-238  is used by NASA as an energy source for its deep space probes.  The House appropriations bill also provided  no funding for this project. )

OFFICE  OF SCIENCE

The  introductory paragraph of the committee report in the section entitled Title  III, Department of Energy states:

“The  Committee’s highest priority is accelerating breakthroughs in clean energy  technologies       to  reduce the Nation’s dependence on foreign oil and developing carbon-free  sources of energy that will change the way the United States produces and  consumes energy. Increases to ARPA–E should accelerate the commercialization of  these technologies and a shift of funding in the Office of Science toward  goal-oriented research will focus limited investments.” (page 75)

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $4,857.7 million     The  FY 2012 administration request was $5,416.1 million     The  FY 2012 House-passed bill provides $4,800.0 million, a decline of $57.7 million  or 1.2 percent from the current budget.     The  Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides $4,842.7 million, a decline of  $15.0 million or 0.3 percent.

There  is important language in the report on page 89 regarding the committee’s  support for the Office of Science and its identification of “three clear  priorities for basic scientific research,” the establishment of an independent  Office of Science Advisory Committee, and under a section entitled “Project  Management” a directive that the Department of Energy should “create a  performance ranking of all ongoing multi-year research projects” “by comparing  current performance with original project goals.”

Basic  Energy Sciences

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $1,678.2 million     The  FY 2012 administration request was $1,985.0 million     The  FY 2012 House-passed bill provides $1,688.2 million, an increase of $10.0  million or 0.6 percent from the current budget.     The  Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides $1,693.9 million, an increase of  $15.7 million or 0.9 percent.

Selections  from the report follow (page 89):

“The  Committee recommends $1,693,860,000 for Basic Energy Sciences. Of these funds,  $151,400,000 is provided for construction activities as requested in the  budget. The remaining $1,542,460,000 is for research. Within the research funds  provided, up to $100,000,000 shall be used to support the 46 Energy Frontier  Research Centers. The Committee encourages the Department to continue interim  science and management reviews during these centers’ 5-year award period to  maintain proper oversight and ensure that the centers continue to pursue  fundamental research needed to accelerate breakthroughs in clean energy  technologies.

“The  Committee recommends $24,300,000 for the Fuels from Sunlight energy innovation  hub and $20,000,000 for a new Hub for Batteries and Energy Storage. The  Committee also recommends $10,000,000 for predictive modeling of internal  combustion engines. . . . ”

“The  Committee also recommends $37,000,000 for major items of equipment, including  $11,500,000 for new instruments and $5,500,000 for a power upgrade at the  Spallation Neutron Source at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, $8,000,000 for  design and engineering work to enhance the capabilities of the Linac Coherent Light  Source at SLAC, and $12,000,000 for equipment for the new National Synchrotron  Light Source facility at Brookhaven. The       Committee  recommends no funding for upgrades to the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne  National Laboratory or to build a new electron microscope. The Committee is  concerned about outyear liabilities for major construction projects and  upgrades to facilities at a time of flat or declining budgets. Upgrades to the  Advanced Photon Source and the Linac Coherent Light Source both have estimated costs  of over $300,000,000. The Office of Science should consider phasing  these projects to reflect the highest priority or demonstrate how it can build  both concurrently without significant impacts to basic research.

“The  Committee recommends $20,000,000 for the Experimental Program to Stimulate  Competitive Research [EPSCoR] to support science and technology programs in  States that have historically received relatively less Federal research  funding.

“The  Committee directs the Office of Basic Energy Sciences [BES] to implement the  recommendations in the April 2010 Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee  report on ways to strengthen the link between basic research and industry. . .  . ”

“The  Committee understands that catalysis is the key enabling technology for  transportation fuel production today and further advances in catalysis are  required to develop advanced fuels from domestic sources that use the country’s  existing energy infrastructure and are the lowest cost path to reducing oil  imports. The Committee encourages the Office of Science to continue catalysis  research.  The Committee also encourages  the Office of Science in partnership with universities to support research and  development of novel device materials for alternative energy applications.

“The  Committee encourages the Department of Energy in partnership with universities  to support research and development of advanced nanostructure polymer-particle  composite materials for improved ultra-capacitor devices. The Committee also  encourages the Department to continue funding to support research and  development needs of graduate and post-graduate science programs at  Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”

Biological  and Environmental Research

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $611.8 million     The  FY 2012 administration request was $717.9 million     The  FY 2012 House-passed bill provides $547.1 million, a decline of $64.7 million  or 10.6 percent from the current budget.     The  Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides $621.8 million, an increase of $10.0  million or 1.6 percent.

Selections  from the report follow (page 91):

“The  Committee recommends $295,079,000 for climate and environmental sciences. The  Committee recognizes the unique contributions of this program in advancing  climate research.       DOE  has stationary and mobile facilities around the world that collect data on  climate change and the world’s best high-performance computers to develop  sophisticated climate models to help decisionmakers understand the impact of  climate change. Despite advances in climate models, there is still uncertainty  in predicting how climate change may impact future energy use, land use, food production,  and water resources and affect regional stability. The Committee supports DOE’s  efforts in improving the reliability and accuracy of climate models by  resolving two major areas of uncertainty -- the effect of clouds and aerosols  on climate. The Committee encourages  DOE to continue using data obtained from satellite sensors operated by other  Federal agencies in addition to ground based data to produce the most accurate  and reliable information for climate modeling.

“The  Committee also supports research related to producing biomass-based biofuels to  reduce the country’s dependence on fossil-based transportation fuels. . . .  The Committee believes that synthetic  biology, which involves designing new biological parts, devices and systems for  specific purposes, will accelerate major breakthroughs not only in biofuels,  but also in other important energy and environmental missions of the  Department. The Committee directs the Secretary  of Energy, not later than 9 months after enactment of this act, in consultation  with other relevant Federal agencies, the academic community, research based  nonprofit entities, and the private sector, to submit a comprehensive synthetic  biology plan for federally supported research and development activities that  will support the energy and environmental missions of the Department and enable  a competitive synthetic biology industry in the United States. . . .”

“Within  the funds provided, $20,000,000 shall be used for radiobiology to help  determine health risks from exposures to low levels of ionizing radiation to  properly protect radiation workers and the general public. The Fukushima  Daiichi disaster in Japan is an opportunity to learn about the impacts of the  disaster on human health and apply lessons learned to make more informed       decisions  on protection if a similar accident occurs in the future, including dose trip  points for evacuation and shelter-in-place orders.  Within the funds provided, $12,000,000 is to  continue nuclear medicine research with human application. The Committee notes  that DOE-funded nuclear medicine research has led to numerous achievements in  patient care, such as cutting-edge nuclear medicine imaging and therapy  procedures, including PET scans, that are crucial for identifying the presence  of cancer in the body and cardiac stress tests to analyze heart function.”

Advanced  Scientific Computing Research

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $422.0 million     The  FY 2012 administration request was $465.6 million     The  FY 2012 House-passed bill provides $427.1 million, an increase of $5.1 million  or 1.2 percent from the current budget.     The  Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides $441.6 million, an increase of $19.6  million or 4.6 percent.

Selections  from the report follow (page 92):

“The  Committee recommends $90,000,000 for the exascale initiative to spur U.S.  innovation and       increase  the country’s ability to address critical national challenges.  The Committee understands that exascale  computing will help maintain U.S. industrial competitiveness. In particular,  high-tech industries such as transportation, aerospace, nuclear energy, and  petroleum will increasingly rely on high-performance computing, especially when  traditional experiments would be impossible, dangerous, or inordinately costly  to perform.

“The  Committee understands that the Department will have the lead Government role in  computing research and development. The Department’s role in developing more  advanced computing platforms is even more important with the elimination of the  DARPA High Performance Computing program. For this reason, the Committee supports  the budget request for the Leadership Computing Facilities, which will enable  Oak Ridge and Argonne National Laboratories to move forward with upgrades to  their Cray XT5 and IBM Glue [Blue] Gene/P systems, respectively. These upgrades  will ensure that they remain on track to be the most powerful supercomputers in  the world and represent an important step in the Department’s research effort  to develop the first exascale system.”

Also  see page 75 of the committee report for important additional language on DOE’s  Exascale Initiative.

High  Energy Physics

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $795.4 million     The  FY 2012 administration request was $797.2 million     The  FY 2012 House-passed bill provides $797.2 million, an increase of $1.8 million  or 0.2 percent from the current budget.     The  Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides $780.2 million, a decrease of $15.2  million or 1.9 percent.

Selections  from the report follow (page 92):

“With  the shutdown of the Tevatron at Fermilab at the end of fiscal year 2011 and the  successful operation of the most powerful energy particle collider in the  world, the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, U.S. dominance of the energy  frontier has come to an end. However, the Committee understands that the United  States has an opportunity to lead in the intensity frontier. Specifically, the United  States has unique capabilities that should be exploited to develop a  world-leading program of neutrino science to understand the role neutrinos play  in the evolution of the universe and design new particle beams and highly  sensitive detectors to advance this area of science. The Committee directs the  Office of Science to submit a report not later than 180 days of enactment that  lays out

-the  expected benefits of intensity frontier science,

-a  strategy for maintaining the U.S. lead, and

-the  funding needs over the next 10 years, including construction activities, of  implementing the proposed strategy.

“The  Committee provides no construction funds for the Long Baseline Neutrino  Experiment. The Committee is concerned that this project is not mature enough  for construction because a location for this experiment in an underground  laboratory has not yet been selected and the decision of the National Science  Foundation to discontinue construction funding for the Deep Underground Science  and Engineering Laboratory in South Dakota has created uncertainty about the  future of the project. In addition, the Office of Science has not yet selected  a technology, which affects where the experiment can be located and total cost.

“The  Committee also recommends $15,000,000 as requested - $10,000,000 from the High  Energy Physics program and $5,000,000 from the Nuclear Physics program - to  support minimal, sustaining operations at the Homestake Mine in South Dakota.  The Committee is aware of the National Science Foundation’s decision.  However, the Committee encourages the Office  of Science to examine cost-effective options for using the mine to stage  critical experiments related  to neutrino and dark matter research.

“The  Committee understands that powerful new accelerator technologies created for  basic science and developed by industry will produce particle accelerators with  the potential to address key economic and societal issues confronting our  Nation. However, the Committee is concerned with the divide that exists in  translating breakthroughs in accelerator science and technology into  applications that benefit the marketplace and American competitiveness.  The Committee directs the Department to  submit a 10-year strategic plan by June 1, 2012 for accelerator technology  research and development to advance accelerator applications in energy and the environment,  medicine, industry, national security, and discovery science. The strategic  plan should be based on the results of the Department’s 2010 workshop study,  Accelerators for America’s Future, that identified the opportunities and  research challenges for next-generation accelerators and how to improve coordination  between basic and applied accelerator research. The strategic plan should also  identify the potential need for demonstration and development facilities to  help bridge the gap between development and deployment.”

Nuclear  Physics

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $540.1 million     The  FY 2012 administration request was $605.3 million     The  FY 2012 House-passed bill provides $552.0 million, an increase of $11.9 million  or 2.2 percent from the current budget.     The  Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides $550.1 million, an increase of $10.0  million or 1.9 percent.

Selections  from the report follow (page 93):

“The  Committee recommends $55,000,000 in construction funds for the Continuous  Electron Beam Accelerator Facility, which the Nuclear Physics Advisory  Committee concluded was the highest priority for the Nation’s nuclear physics  program. The Committee also recommends $24,000,000 for the Facility for Rare  Isotope Beams.”

Fusion  Energy Sciences

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $375.5 million     The  FY 2012 administration request was $399.7 million     The  FY 2012 House-passed bill provides $406.0 million, an increase of $30.5 million  or 8.1 percent from the current budget.     The  Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides $335.5 million, a decline of $40.0  million or 10.7 percent.

Selections  from the report follow (page 94):

“The  Department is directed to submit a 10-year plan, not later than 12 months after  enactment of this act, on the Department’s proposed research and development  activities in magnetic       fusion  under four realistic budget scenarios. The report shall (1) identify specific  areas of fusion energy research and enabling technology development in which  the United States can and should establish or solidify a lead in the global  fusion energy development effort and (2) identify priorities for facility  construction and facility decommissioning under each of the four budget  scenarios. The Department is encouraged to use a similar approach adopted by  the       Particle  Physics Project Prioritization Panel that developed a 10-year strategic plan  for the Department’s high energy physics program.

“Of  the $24,741,000 requested for the High Energy Density Laboratory Plasma  program, $12,000,000 shall be spent on heavy-ion fusion, laser-driven fusion,  and magneto-inertial fusion to be evenly distributed among these three areas of  science. A recent Department of Energy report on scientific grand challenges  for fusion energy sciences identified these three areas of research as critical  toward advancing inertial fusion energy. In particular, the Committee does not  understand why the Department would redirect funding for magnetized  high-energy-density plasma research after the panel report found that this  approach has the potential to significantly reduce  power requirements compared to conventional inertial confinement fusion and  could permit fusion development without building multi-billion dollar  facilities.

“The  Committee is concerned about the impact ITER will have on the domestic fusion  energy budget. Based on DOE budget estimates, DOE will be requesting between  $300,000,000 to $400,000,000  a year from fiscal years 2014 through 2016 to help build ITER. If current  trends of declining or flat budgets continue, almost all of the fusion energy  sciences budget will be consumed by ITER. The Committee encourages DOE to find  a solution to this problem without compromising the scientific and technical  expertise residing at U.S. universities, labs, and industrial partners.

“The  Committee encourages the Office Fusion Energy Sciences Program to closely  collaborate with the Office of Basic Energy Sciences, the Office of Advanced  Scientific Computing Research, the Office of Nuclear Energy, and the National  Nuclear Security Administration to address mutual needs for technology  development in magnetic fusion, inertial fusion, and next-generation fission reactor  concepts. One focus area of these collaborations should be on identifying,  characterizing, and developing new materials that can endure the intense  neutron and heat fluxes expected in these reactor environments. The Committee  expects the Department to  consider these nuclear technology needs as it develops its prioritization plan.

“The  Committee also encourages the fusion energy program take continue taking  advantage of high performance computing to address scientific and technical  challenges on the path to fusion energy.   The Committee supports the Fusion Simulation Program to provide  experimentally validated predictive simulation capabilities that are critical  for ITER and other current and planned toroidal fusion devices. Given current  and future budget constraints, the Committee views this initiative as critical  to maintain U.S. world leadership in fusion energy in a cost-effective manner.”