Alexander: “Record Level of Funding” for Basic Research at Department of Energy Benefits Major Programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Says bipartisan bill includes money for supercomputing at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and second year of construction for Chickamauga Lock

Posted on December 16, 2015

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2015 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today the 2015 Energy & Water Development Appropriations bill, which is included as part of the Omnibus Appropriations bill, prioritizes energy and infrastructure projects important to Tennessee and the nation.    

Alexander is chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development and he worked with ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to draft the bill.

“Senator Feinstein and I worked hard to create a bipartisan bill that helps solve critical problems facing our country. The bill provides a record-level of funding for basic research at the Office of Science, and it increases funding for deepening our ports and improving our inland waterways. The bill also funds cleanup of hazardous materials at Cold War facilities and strengthens our national security,” Alexander said.

The bill includes the following vital energy and research priorities:

  • The bill provides sufficient funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue construction of Chickamauga Lock in fiscal year 2016. Based on current estimates for the first three Inland Waterways Trust Fund priorities, there should be up to $29 million available to continue construction on Chickamauga Lock, which is the fourth priority in the list of projects Congress agreed upon. This builds on the $3 million used to restart construction on Chickamauga Lock last year.
  • The U.S Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which supports basic energy research and is the nation’s largest supporter of research in the physical sciences, is funded at a record $5.35 billion-level.
  • A total of $1.24 billion is provided for advanced computing, including both the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration.  The Office of Science’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research Program, which supports the new Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is funded at $621 million. “Once again, the world’s fastest supercomputer will be at Oak Ridge National Laboratory”, Alexander said. Additionally, exascale computing is supported at $234 million.
  • The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) is funded at $291 million. ARPA-E was created by the America COMPETES Act to invest in high-impact energy technologies.
  • Nuclear infrastructure at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, including hot cells and isotope production facilities, is funded in the bill.  Many of the isotopes produced at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are not available anywhere else, and are necessary to support medical treatments, oil and gas exploration, and deep-space satellites, among other priorities.
  • Small Modular Reactors, which Alexander said will give utilities and the military the ability to generate clean, cheap, reliable nuclear power in new ways.
  • The bill includes funding for a new mercury treatment facility to help clean up nuclear facilities that are no longer in service in Oak Ridge.
  • Funding to maintain research facilities used by scientists from around the world, such as the Spallation Neutron Source, the High Flux Isotope Reactor, and the Leadership Computing Facilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which have hosted more than 24,000 visiting scientists and researchers since 2006.
  • Funding to continue advancing additive manufacturing technologies at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
  • Provides $6 million to preserve the historic contributions made by the K–25 site to the Manhattan Project.
  • The bill includes $70 million to operate and maintain the following navigation projects: Wolf River Harbor, the Tennessee River, and the seven lock and dam projects located in Tennessee.
  • The bill also includes $2.1 million to operate and maintain the Memphis Harbor, McKellar Lake project through the Mississippi River and Tributaries funding.  
  • The Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex is funded at $430 million, which will continue to keep this project on time and on budget. 

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