On Thursday of this week, the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee will consider its FY 2012 funding bill. This bill provides major support for physics research through the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
The subcommittee held a hearing on the Office of Science FY 2012 request in March. At this hearing subcommittee chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) spoke of the historic support the subcommittee has given to the Office of Science, calling its research “crucial.” The subcommittee is operating under tight funding restrictions this year. The $30.6 billion allocated to the subcommittee is down $1 billion from last year, and is approximately $6 billion less than the Obama Administration requested. The request for the Office of Science is up 9.1 percent from the FY 2010 level.)
Sixty representatives signed a letter to Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Peter Visclosky (D-IN) requesting “robust and sustained” funding for the Office of Science in FY 2012. Helping to build support for this letter, and for the Office of Science, were 73 professional associations, corporations, and universities who signed a letter to the Members of the House of Representatives. This letter was sent by the Energy Sciences Coalition and the Task Force on American Innovation to which AIP and several of its Member Societies belong. The American Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society signed the following letter in support of the Office of Science:
“To Members of the U.S. House of Representatives:
“As members of the Energy Sciences Coalition and the Task Force on American Innovation, we write today to urge you to make robust and sustained funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science a priority in the Fiscal Year 2012 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act.
“We recognize the difficult challenges and choices you face as you work to reduce the federal budget deficit, get the economy growing again, and create jobs for the American people. However, to achieve these goals, Congress must make strategic decisions and set priorities when it comes to federal funding.
“We believe that the scientific research, unique world-class user facilities, and teams of skilled scientists and engineers funded by the Department of Energy Office of Science at universities and national laboratories are critical to long-term economic growth and job creation. Economic experts have asserted as much, crediting past investments in science and technology for up to half the growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the 50 years following the end of World War II. Yet today, other nations such as China, India, and Europe are increasingly investing in their scientific infrastructure and are challenging U.S. leadership in areas such as supercomputing and energy research with the goal of capitalizing on the many technological advances and economic benefits that result from scientific research.
“That is why we urge you to support the request of Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) to the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee to make strong and sustained funding for the DOE Office of Science a priority in fiscal year 2012. They articulate how important the DOE Office of Science is to American industry and universities, how it is unique from and complementary to the research efforts of other federal research agencies, how it serves to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers, and how research funded by the DOE Office of Science has made our nation more secure, healthy, competitive, and prosperous.
“In light of current budget constraints, and with an eye toward creating jobs and strengthening the economy, we urge you to sign the Biggert-Holt letter and support making funding for the DOE Office of Science a priority in fiscal year 2012.”