Alexander on Energy and Water Appropriations Bill: “Labs in Tennessee Have a Number Of Programs That Are Critical to the Country and Congress Has Made Them a Priority”

Appropriations Bill Includes Funding for Advanced Computing at ORNL; the Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12; ORNL Nuclear Infrastructure and Cleanup; Would Increase Mississippi River and Tributaries Dredging Funding

Posted on September 9, 2011

“I want to make sure that our timidity in failing to rein in runaway healthcare spending doesn’t squeeze out necessary funding on pro-growth functions of the government that we need to continue. One of those is advanced research. …The same is true with our locks and our dams and other things we deal with, with the Army Corps of Engineers. That’s all part of a pro-growth policy and it’s all part of this bill.”

-Lamar Alexander 

WASHINGTON – At a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting held Wednesday to mark up fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) praised the Energy and Water bill’s reduced spending level, as well as its prioritization of projects at Tennessee labs:

“Labs in Tennessee have a number of programs that are critical to the country and Congress has made them a priority,” Alexander said.

The appropriations bills being discussed are for fiscal year 2012 and do not include any earmarks, in keeping with Senate rules changed by request of Senate Republicans. Therefore, funds directed toward Tennessee projects reflect the priorities of Senate as a whole.

At a subcommittee meeting this week, Alexander said: “I want to make sure that our timidity in failing to rein in runaway healthcare spending doesn’t squeeze out necessary funding on pro-growth functions of the government that we need to continue. One of those is advanced research. …The same is true with our locks and our dams and other things we deal with with the Army Corps of Engineers. That’s all part of a pro-growth policy and it’s all part of this bill. My view is that the federal government ought to appropriately accelerate its research in key areas.”

Tennessee projects funded in the bill include:

Tennessee funding in the FY12 Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill:

  • Spallation Neutron Source (SNS)  
    • Funding in this bill will allow for advanced equipment design and a power upgrade to better study materials science.  These improvements could help led to new materials which could make nuclear reactor vessels safer, solar panels more durable and cheaper, or improved electricity transmission lines.
  • Advanced Computing
    • Funding included in this bill will advance computer research and help the U.S. regain the top spot in the world with the most powerful super computer.  Funding will allow the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility to upgrade the Titan computer at 30 petaflops, which would make it the world’s most powerful machine.
    • This bill also fully funds the Exascale initiative which will support the long term efforts of the US to be at the forefront of advances in supercomputing.
  • Nuclear Infrastructure at ORNL
    • This bill includes support for the Hot Cells and Department of Energy’s isotope program. Many of the isotopes produced at ORNL aren’t produced anywhere else in the world and are used in things like oil and gas exploration, scrubbers at coal plants that reduce harmful emissions, deep space satellites, and medical treatments.
  • Cleanup for building 3019  
    • Currently, ORNL has the highest safeguards and security costs of any science lab in DOE due to the supply of Uranium 233 stored in building 3019.  Cleaning up this facility will reduce the taxpayer’s costs of operating ORNL and will improve the safety of the facility for the workers on the ORNL campus.
  • Nuclear Facilities Risk Reduction at Y-12
    • This bill provides funding to upgrade equipment and infrastructure for two of the buildings at Y-12 that handle some of the most difficult aspects of Uranium production.   These upgrades are short term steps that insure that these older facilities will continue to operate effectively until the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) is completed.
  • Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12
    • This bill keeps construction of UPF on schedule.  When completed, UPF will handle the processing of the uranium that goes into our Nation’s nuclear weapons.
  • Increase in Mississippi River and Tributaries dredging funding
    • The increase in available funding for dredging at MRT sites will increase the likelihood of increased dredging at the Memphis port. Recent flooding has accelerated the need for dredging funding at the Port of Memphis among others along the Mississippi River this funding will help the Corps fund inland port dredging projects in that areas that have been most affected.

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