Alexander: Record Funding for Most Important Federal Program that Supports Oak Ridge National Laboratory for 3rd Consecutive Year

Also increases funding for supercomputing and environmental cleanup in Oak Ridge

Posted on March 21, 2018

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2018 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the government funding bill increases funding for the most important federal program – the Office of Science – that supports work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the third consecutive year, and sets a new record funding level in a regular appropriations bill. The bill also includes significant funding increases in supercomputing and environmental cleanup in Oak Ridge.

“The government funding bill includes record funding – in a regular appropriations bill - for the third consecutive year for the most important federal program that supports the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and demonstrates the importance that Congress attaches to the hard work of thousands of men and women who work in Oak Ridge and the importance of that to our national security and our high standard of living. Tennesseans know that innovative energy research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory means thousands of high-tech jobs for our state and higher family incomes.” Alexander said. “The funding in this legislation will help support Oak Ridge’s supercomputing facility, and Oak Ridge leads the world in some areas in that. Dozens of companies, from small business to Fortune 500 giants, have used supercomputers at Oak Ridge to remain competitive in the global market. Not only does supercomputing help scientists and companies, supercomputers at our national laboratories can be used by federal agencies to combat issues like waste, fraud, and abuse; finding terrorists and criminals; and helping the National Institutes of Health find cures and treatments for diseases. I’m glad we were able to provide a substantial amount of new funding for this effort.”

The bill includes the following priorities for the federal program that supports ORNL:

  • $6.26 billion for the Office of Science, which is $868 million more than last year and a 16 percent increase in the Office of Science’s funding level over last year.
  • $810 million for Advanced Scientific Computing Research, which is an increase of $163 million over last year.
    • Of this amount, $162.5 million is included for the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, an increase of $52.5 million – or nearly 50 percent – above last year.
    • Supercomputing is one of the most important programs at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and later this year the new Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge could be the fastest open source research computer in the world.  
    • Oak Ridge is also leading the way on the development of the next generation of supercomputers – known as “exascale.”
    • The Exascale Computing Project will receive $205 million, which is an increase of $41 million over last year. Oak Ridge National Laboratory hosts the Exascale Computing Project Office.

Alexander continued: “In addition, the bill includes new funding for advanced manufacturing, which is attracting companies to learn about ways to create new jobs. Last year, I had the opportunity to show Secretary of Energy Rick Perry Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, where we saw a collection of 3-D printers that companies to Oak Ridge and use to develop advanced manufacturing techniques. Industries are now 3-D printing everything from medical devices to epilepsy drugs, robotic arms to airplane parts, whole cars and buildings. This technology is already used by the automotive and aviation industries and has the potential to do much more. Government-sponsored 3-D printing research is beginning to transform the manufacturing sector in the same way that government-sponsored research played a large role, along with our free enterprise system, in the development of unconventional natural gas that has transformed the energy sector and will continue to shape America’s energy policy for decades.”

The bill also includes:

  • $305 million for advanced manufacturing, which is $47.5 million more than last year.  
    • For Oak Ridge, $20 million is included for the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. 
    • This funding will support the development of 3-D printing, low-cost carbon fiber, and other advanced manufacturing technologies. 
  • $14 million for the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, which partners with the University of Tennessee.

Alexander has made a personal commitment to increase funding for cleanup of hazardous materials and facilities at Cold War-era sites in Oak Ridge. Alexander went on to say: “This bill accelerates cleanup of hazardous materials and facilities at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex. The funding supports vital investments in a new mercury treatment facility – also known as Outfall 200 – which will help reduce the amount of mercury getting into Tennessee waterways to safe levels and make it possible for cleanup work at Y-12 to continue which supports thousands of jobs.”

Alexander spoke at the groundbreaking of the Outfall 200 mercury treatment facility in November.

The bill includes the following funding for cleanup:

  • $639 million for cleanup of Cold War sites in Oak Ridge, including the Outfall 200 mercury treatment facility.
    • This is $141 million above last year's funding level and $125 million above the president's budget request.

Alexander concluded: “I’m glad we have rejected the budget proposal and increased investment in ARPA-E.”

Finally, the bill:

  • Rejects the budget proposal to eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) and provides $353 million to continue this agency’s important research.
    • ARPA-E was created by the 2007 America COMPETES Act that Alexander helped write, and was signed into law by President Bush, to invest in high-impact energy technologies.
  • To date, 136 ARPA-E project teams have attracted more than $2.6 billion from the private sector to bring their technologies to market and another 109 ARPA-E projects teams have partnered with government agencies to develop new technologies that will ultimately benefit taxpayers.

Alexander is the chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee which is responsible for recommending funding levels each year for the Department of Energy, including the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration.