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Department of Energy

In covering DOE’s science-related activities, FYI focuses on the Office of Science, including its six program offices and 10 national laboratories. FYI also covers the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy and the science-related activities of the National Nuclear Security Administration, including its three national laboratories.

18 Jan 2018

At a recent House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, participants touched on a wide range of issues related to the Department of Energy, including R&D priorities and the management and structure of the national lab system. The committee framed the hearing as a prelude to potential DOE reform legislation.

9 Jan 2018

A new National Academies report warns that withdrawing from ITER, a mammoth international fusion project under construction in France, could jeopardize the U.S.’s pursuit of commercial fusion energy. The report also calls for a national strategic fusion plan to resolve issues that will not be addressed through ITER.

8 Jan 2018

This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is kicking off a series of hearings related to its ongoing efforts to reform the Department of Energy. The first hearing will focus on DOE’s primary mission areas and “opportunities to unleash the full potential of DOE’s scientific, engineering and technological capabilities.” The committee’s efforts will add to a growing set of changes, proposals, and discussions concerning how DOE structures, manages, and prioritizes its laboratory and other R&D activities.

8 Dec 2017

A new National Academies study warns the U.S. has lost leadership in high-intensity ultrafast laser research to Europe. To regain ground, it recommends the Department of Energy invest in at least one new large-scale facility and lead the development of a coordinated national research strategy.

21 Nov 2017

Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual bill that sets policy for the Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration. The final version incorporated or adapted many of the R&D-related proposals from the original House and Senate versions of the bill.

17 Nov 2017

The House Science Committee has approved a package of bills that establish target funding profiles for eight Department of Energy research facility construction projects. The committee also approved four STEM education and research bills, one of which would require federal science agencies to annually report to the National Science Foundation information on the demographics of all R&D grant applicants.

16 Nov 2017

Republican committee leaders expressed hope that geoengineering technologies could someday address climate change. Democratic members were more cautious, supporting research but emphasizing it should not be viewed as a substitute for emissions reductions or other approaches for combating climate change.

16 Nov 2017

The House Science Committee held a hearing earlier this month at which witnesses testified to the value of the Department of Energy’s recently terminated research program on low dose radiation. Despite bipartisan congressional support for the research, DOE has been reluctant to continue work in the area.

2 Nov 2017

At an Oct. 24 hearing, House Science Committee members and witnesses voiced concern that the U.S. could fall behind countries that are rapidly ramping up investments in quantum R&D, with some calling for a national initiative to bolster current efforts.

11 Oct 2017

At a hearing last week, members of the House Science Committee heard testimony about the status of domestic plutonium-238 supplies, an essential fuel for many robotic science missions. A Government Accountability Office report released at the same time recommends that the Department of Energy improve its long-term planning for producing Pu-238 and associated power systems.