Conference Report on FY96 Energy & Water Development Appropriations

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Publication date: 
31 October 1995

On October 25, House and Senate conferees completed work on H.R.
1905, the fiscal year 1996 Energy and Water Development
Appropriations bill.  Below are details of funding for selected DOE
programs, as well as highlights of the conference report (H. Rept.
104-293), which accompanies the bill and provides the conferees'

FUSION:  The conferees agreed to provide $244.1 million for fusion
energy programs, which is a decrease of 33.3 percent from the
Administration's request.  The Senate recommendation was $281.1
million, the House recommendation was $229.1 million, the request
was $366.1 million, and FY95 funding was $372.6 million.

The conference report states, "This funding is to support a program
in plasma science and fusion technology, and continue United States
participation in the engineering design activities phase of the
International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project to which
the United States is committed through fiscal year 1998.  The
conferees do not agree with the Senate language which recommended
transferring computer work, termination, severance and separation
costs to other activities within the Department, and transferring
the heavy ion fusion program to defense activities.

"With little prospect for increased funding for the fusion base
program over the next several years, it will be necessary for the
program to restructure its strategy, content and
near-to-medium-term objectives.  The restructured program should
emphasize continued development of fusion science, increased
attention to concept improvement and alternative approaches to
fusion, and development and testing of the low-activation
structural materials so important for fusion's attractiveness as an
energy source.

The Department of Energy, with participation of the fusion
community and the Fusion Energy Advisory Committee, is instructed
to prepare a strategic plan to implement such a restructured
program, to be completed by December 31, 1995.  This plan should
assume a constant level of effort in the base program for the next
several years; as appropriate, it should be integrated with plans
of the international fusion program; and it should address the
institutional makeup of a domestic program consistent with the
funding assumptions.

"The conferees believe that, because of the stringent budget
realities facing this Nation, the promise of fusion energy can only
be realized through international collaboration.  The high cost of
fusion development points to the increasing importance of
international cooperation as a means of designing, building, and
financing major magnetic fusion facilities in the future.  Because
the United States has committed to such an approach, it is crucial
that a restructuring of the fusion program maintain a strong
domestic base and not undermine our credibility as a reliable
international partner."

BASIC ENERGY SCIENCES:  The conference report recommends $791.7
million for BES, which, although a decrease of 2.4 percent from the
request, is equal to both the Senate and House recommendations.
The request was $811.4 million; FY95 funding was $747.3 million.
According to the conference report, "The conferees make no
recommendation with regard to the siting of the new spallation
source project.  The Department of Energy shall make that
determination in a fair and unbiased manner.  The conferees direct
the Department of Energy to evaluate opportunities to upgrade
existing reactors and spallation sources as cost-effective means of
providing neutrons in the near term for the scientific community
while the next generation source is developed.  This evaluation
shall be available prior to the Appropriations Committee's hearings
on the Department's fiscal year 1997 budget submission.

"For purposes of reprogrammings during fiscal year 1996, funding
may be reallocated by the Department among all operating accounts
in basic energy sciences other than program direction."

$981.0 million, a decrease of 3.6 percent from the request, and
halfway between the Senate recommendation of $971.0 million and the
House recommendation of $991.0 million.  The request was $1,017.5
million; FY95 funding was $984.0 million.  This account comprises
high energy and nuclear physics, which are described below.  The
conference report did not contain any language on these programs.

HIGH ENERGY PHYSICS:  Within General Science and Research
Activities, the conference agreement gives High Energy Physics
$667.0 million, a decrease of 2.7 percent from the request, and
halfway between the Senate recommendation of $657.0 million and the
House recommendation of $677.0 million.  The request was $685.6
million; FY95 funding was $642.1 million. 

NUCLEAR PHYSICS:  The conferees provide $304.5 million for Nuclear
Physics, a decrease of 5.2 percent from the request, and equal to
the Senate and House recommendations.  The request was $321.1
million; FY95 funding was $331.5 million.

ATOMIC ENERGY DEFENSE ACTIVITIES:  Within this category, some
inertial confinement fusion research is performed.  The conference
report states, "Funding of $37,400,000, the same as the budget
request, is provided for...the National Ignition Facility.  Full
funding for all inertial confinement fusion program participants is
provided as requested in the Department's budget justification."

$22.0 million for this program, noting that only severance costs
can be paid to the program's 27 employees.  The report says, "In
addition to this individual program, the Department of Energy
spends well over $100,000,000 throughout all programs to support
science and education activities.  The conferees continue to
support science and education activities funded directly by
programs and which have a direct correlation to programmatic needs.
The conferees do not agree to fund a separate bureaucracy set up to
manage only a small portion of the science and education activities
of the Department..."

The conference report now goes back to the House and Senate floors
for final approval before being sent to the President.  Conferees
are hopeful that there will be no roadblocks on the floor and that
President Clinton will sign the bill, but House Energy and Water
Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Myers (R-IN) was quoted
by Congressional Quarterly's Weekly report as stating, "You never
know."  The House plans to take up the conference report today.

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