Sixty-two senators have joined U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in a letter urging key appropriators to adequately fund the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The bipartisan letter comes just two weeks after the senators won strong support (by a vote of 97-1) for an amendment to the 2008 Budget Resolution that set aside $1 billion for math and science education and scientific research and development at the Science Office and at the National Science Foundation.
Fulfillment of the senators’ request would ensure that projects and operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory, such as the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, such as the Spallation Neutron Source and supercomputing, would continue forward as planned.
The senators’ letter, written to Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Ranking Republican Pete Domenici (R-NM), urges that the Office of Science be funded at the level of $4.481 billion in Fiscal Year 2008, as requested by President Bush in his annual budget submission to Congress.
“The President’s requested funding for the Office of Science is justified as our nation’s ability to sustain a growing economy and create good jobs at home increasingly depends upon our achievements in science and technology. Competition in the global marketplace is increasingly fierce, and the Office of Science is at the forefront of our efforts to keep America’s edge and avoid being overtaken by nations like China and India. Strengthening our investment in the Office of Science is the right thing to do to meet our long-term challenges for abundant energy, clean air and water, and a vibrant economy,” they wrote.
The senators point out that, at facilities like those in Los Alamos and Oak Ridge, the Office of Science is supporting discoveries in essential fields, including biotechnology, nanotechnology, and supercomputing, and if properly funded in the future promises to make even more breakthroughs in the medical science, climate change and homeland security.
“In addition, through its many world class user facilities and programs, the Office of Science plays an indispensable role in educating, training, and sustaining the nation’s scientific workforce. Thousands of university researchers – professors, ‘post-docs’ and undergraduate students – also rely on support from the Office every year. Roughly half of the researchers at Office of Science-run facilities come from universities, and about a third of Office of Science research funds go to institutions of higher learning,” the senators wrote to Dorgan and Domenici.
The letter provides further support for the Bingaman-Alexander amendment to the Budget Resolution, which among other things, added $610 million for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science budget for FY 2008, bringing the total to $4.481 billion. The Senate-passed Budget Resolution must still be reconciled with corresponding legislation from the House of Representatives.