Record funding: Omnibus bill prioritizes vital energy research
December 18, 2015 | By Barbara Vergetis Lundin
The 2015 Energy & Water Development Appropriations bill, included as part of the Omnibus Appropriations bill, prioritizes energy, infrastructure, and research projects that could help solve a variety of critical issues facing the nation today.
That is according to the drafters of the bill U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) (also chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
Among the "vital" energy projects in the bill are a total of $1.24 billion 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. Additionally, exascale computing is supported at $234 million.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), created by the America COMPETES Act to invest in high-impact energy technologies, is funded at $291 million.
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. Further, 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.
The bill also provides 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, as well as to continue advancing additive manufacturing technologies at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Finally, 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.
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