First Information on FY 2010 House DOE Appropriations Bill

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Publication date: 
8 July 2009

The House Appropriations Committee met at 7:00 p.m. last night to consider two FY 2010 funding bills, and did not complete its work until after midnight.  The committee approved the Financial Services Bill, and, of more direct interest to the physics community, the closely-watched Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill which funds the Department of Energy.

House appropriators released a four-page summary of the bill’s provisions.  The committee report, with detailed budget and policy recommendations, is now being printed and will be issued in the next few days.

Here is what is known about the bill approved early this morning:

The bill provides less money than requested by the Obama Administration: $33.3 billion as compared to the requested $34.4 billion.

Total spending would increase less than 1.0 percent over the current year.

The Administration requested an increase of $184.1 million or 3.9 percent, from $4,757.6 million to $4,941.7 million, for the Office of Science. The House Appropriations Committee summary states that the bill provides an increase of $171 million, which is an increase of 3.6 percent.  The statement notes: “This funding, in addition to the $4.8 billion appropriated in fiscal year 2008 and $1.6 billion in the Recovery Act, exceeds the goals in the America COMPETES Act.”

The committee release also includes the following about the Office of Science funding:

Basic Energy Sciences: $1.7 billion for basic research primarily on materials sciences and on chemical sciences, energy biosciences and geosciences. This work places heavy emphasis on advancing the frontiers of using ever-faster tools, including $409 million in the Advanced Scientific Computing Research program, to better understand ever-smaller and more detailed phenomena.”

Applied Research: $2.4 billion for Nuclear Physics, High Energy Physics, Biological and Environmental Research, and Fusion Energy Sciences.”

The designation of these later four programs by the committee as “Applied Research” is nonstandard.  The Administration requested $1,685.5 million for the Basic Energy Sciences Program, a figure which appears to correspond to the Basic Energy Sciences designation by the committee.

Of note, the Administration requested $280.0 million for the establishment of eight Energy Innovation Hubs, a major initiative of Energy Secretary Steven Chu.  The House Appropriations Committee provided $35.0 million, stating  “reductions due to redundancy with existing initiatives and lack of implementation details from Administration.”

Regarding DOE’s nuclear weapons programs, the committee summary states: “Nuclear Weapons Programs: $6.3 billion, $60 million below 2009 and $64 million below the request, for our nation’s nuclear weapons, with a shift in priority to greater security. The bill recommends a $40 million increase from the request in Security, a $52 million increase in Weapons Dismantlement activities from 2009, and an increase of $45 million from the request for the Uranium Processing Facility to greatly improve security at the Oak Ridge site.”Later, the summary states: “B61-12 nuclear bomb: The Committee recommends no funding for the B61-12 nuclear bomb. Until the Administration finalizes its plans for the nation’s nuclear strategy, stockpile, and complex plans, the Committee does not support the effort to develop what is essentially a new nuclear weapon.”

Also of note, under Significant Cuts, the statement explains: “Nuclear Waste Disposal: The Administration has terminated the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.  The bill provides $197 million, $92 million below 2009, to continue the licensing process and establish a Blue Ribbon Commission to evaluate alternatives for nuclear waste disposal.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee is also moving its version of the Energy and Water Development Bill.  This morning the subcommittee sent the bill to the full Appropriations Committee that will meet tomorrow to vote on the legislation.  It is projected this bill will have a total price tag that is $400 million more than the House bill.  FYI will report on the details of both appropriations bills as they become known.