Schumer, Gillibrand Secure Funding to Keep Brookhaven’s Ion Collider Open And Running

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Senators Urged Increase In Federal Nuclear Research Funding – Move Will Ensure Collider Is Kept Open And That US Remains On Forefront of Atomic Research

Washington, DC - January 15, 2014 - U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the Omnibus Appropriations bill, released last night and set to pass Congress, will increase funding to the nation's Nuclear Physics program by an additional $50 million for next fiscal year to a total of $569.9 million, allowing the Brookhaven National Lab's (BNL) ion collider to stay open and running. The BNL collider was put at major risk last year when a recommendation from the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee found that BNL's ion collider would need to close if the science budget decreased, or even in the case where the budget did not increase. However, the Committee suggested that this scenario should be avoided and be replaced with a modest annual increase in the Nuclear Physics budget. Schumer and Gillibrand secured that increase as part of the Omnibus bill, allowing the facility and the jobs it supports to stay in business.
 
In the Energy & Water development section of the Omnibus Appropriations bill, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science Nuclear Physics Account was funded at $569.9 million, allowing RHIC to receive the $165.2 million necessary to run the beam lines more often and improving the quality of their research. The funds are enough to allow for a 22-week run time.
 
“We took the report that threatened the ion collider as a call to action, and together with those who care about scientific research, Long Island’s economy, and our nation’s position at the forefront of innovation, we have secured the necessary funding to keep the collider open and operating,” said Schumer.  “Cutting our nuclear research now, and ceding our advantage to our competitors, would have been penny wise and pound foolish and we should all celebrate that we've avoided that fate.”
 
"Investing in this world-class facility that plays an important role in the future of U.S. competitiveness and supports hundreds of high-tech jobs is the right approach," said Gillibrand. "If we are going to out-innovate and out-compete other countries in the fields of science and technology, we must continue to support cutting edge facilities like the country's only ion collider at Brookhaven National Lab."
 
“We're pleased to see Congress’ continued support of science and of Brookhaven Lab’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and National Synchrotron Light Source II, in particular,” said Doon Gibbs, Laboratory Director at Brookhaven National Laboratory. “We’ll see how that translates into our final budget for FY14, but we're very grateful for the ongoing efforts of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand -- and the NY Congressional delegation as a whole -- on behalf of the Lab and its research mission.”
 
The Department of Energy’s Nuclear Physics program provides funding for facilities and research programs throughout the nation, allowing thousands of university researchers the opportunity to make new scientific discoveries in the growing field of nuclear physics.
 
A Department of Energy advisory panel last year recommended that if no additional funding becomes available, the agency should shut down Brookhaven National Lab’s ion collider in favor of construction of a facility in Michigan. Brookhaven National Lab’s collider currently supports 800 jobs and is the only remaining ion collider of its kind in the country.
 
Schumer and Gillibrand, in response to the report, called for an additional $50 million for DOE’s Nuclear Physics program so that BNL’s ion collider could remain open, and today they announced victory. Schumer and Gillibrand noted that shutting down the ion collider would be wasteful and would set our country back significantly. Schumer and Gillibrand explained that with the additional funding, hundreds of jobs could be saved and important research could continue.
 
A copy of Schumer and Gillibrand’s letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, Ranking Member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, can be found below:
 
Dear Chairman Feinstein and Ranking Member Alexander:
 
As you begin your work on the Fiscal Year 2014 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, we write to request your support for a number of programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) that are of critical importance to Brookhaven National Laboratory.  We urge you to strongly support the President’s budget request for the DOE’s Office of Science, particularly its Nuclear Physics and Basic Energy Sciences programs. We have listed our requests in order of priority.
 
DOE Office of Science
The DOE Office of Science is the nation’s primary sponsor of basic research in the physical sciences.  With the funding it receives from the DOE Office of Science, Brookhaven National Laboratory brings together some of the nation’s best and brightest scientists and engineers to conduct cutting-edge basic research necessary to ensuring our energy security and national competitiveness, meeting our environmental challenges, and producing innovative technological breakthroughs that will fuel our economy and create jobs well into the future.  Brookhaven also constructs, operates, and maintains a number of unique, world-class scientific facilities on which over 5000 university, industry, and government-sponsored scientists from across the country and around the world rely to conduct their research.  For these activities and facilities, we urge you to provide $5,152,000,000, the same as the budget request, for the DOE Office of Science in fiscal year 2014. 
 
Nuclear Physics - Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC):
 
Approximately 1000 scientists from around the world and 200 students rely on RHIC.  They use RHIC to study what the universe may have looked like in the first few moments after its creation to better understand matter and why the physical world works the way it does, from the smallest subatomic particles to the largest stars.  But RHIC’s benefits don’t stop there; it has fueled work with industry, the Department of Defense, and other DOE programs on next-generation hadron radiotherapy facilities for cancer treatment, superconducting magnet energy storage systems, high-current energy recovery linacs for potential defense applications, and advanced medical imaging techniques and detectors. 
 
To ensure that the nation continues to capitalize scientifically from the investment of taxpayer resources in RHIC, we urge you to fund the Nuclear Physics program at $569.9 million, the same as the request.  Within this amount, we urge you to fund RHIC operations and research at $172.7 million (Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Nuclear Physics). This includes $165.2 million for operations (the same as the FY14 budget request) and $7.5 million for research (same as the budget request).  This will enable a RHIC run of 22 weeks in FY14.  While still only 66% of RHIC’s optimal run time, this level of funding will support necessary maintenance and upgrades, maintain support staff, and sustain the scientific output of RHIC.  This is a fitting investment in the operation of a facility that would cost $2 billion to build today, and is consistent with the unanimous recommendations made by the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC) in a recent report on the long range plan for the field of nuclear physics.
 
Basic Energy Sciences - National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS II)
 
The FY14 budget request includes funding for the construction of, instrumentation for, and operation of the NSLS II, a next-generation X-ray light source user facility.  When it becomes fully operational, NSLS II will be 10,000 times brighter or more intense than the current NSLS, giving scientists even higher resolution images when analyzing the molecular structure of materials.  Over 2400 university, industry, and government scientists – including scientists from the National Institutes of Health, IBM, ExxonMobil, GE, AT&T, DOW Chemical – who currently rely on the NSLS will have more powerful tools at their disposal at the NSLS-II to continue their research on advanced new materials that are expected to transform the nation’s energy future.
 
That is why we support the budget request of $147.7 million for all NSLS II related activities (Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Services).  This includes $26.3 million for the final year of construction of the NSLS II, and $27.4 million in project costs to complete the startup and commissioning of the storage ring and remaining accelerator systems as scheduled and budgeted.  We support the $69 million budget request for operations, which is critical to enabling NSLS-II to support high-impact science experiments as soon as it becomes operational.  Finally, we support $25 million for NSLS II Experimental Tools (NEXT), a project to design, build, install, and test instruments for five to six additional NSLS II beamlines beyond the seven to be constructed initially. This is the fourth year of funding for this Major Item of Equipment which is expected to cost a total of $90 million.  We urge you to provide the funding requested for NSLS II to avoid delaying its completion, increasing project costs, and adversely impacting future users of NSLS II.
 
Basic Energy Sciences - National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS)
 
The FY14 budget request includes $35 million for the operation of the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS).  As we just mentioned, over 2400 university, industry, and government scientists continue to rely on the NSLS to conduct their research in anticipation of the completion and startup of the NSLS II.  Because the beamlines at the NSLS II will be built in phases, some of the NSLS users already are making other arrangements to continue their research elsewhere until the construction and instrumentation of the needed beamlines at NSLS II is complete.  Providing the funding requested for the final year of operation of the NSLS will minimize the disruption in access to these important scientific facilities and tools and the impact on thousands of users.
 
We recognize the difficult budget constraints under which you are working, and appreciate your consideration of our requests.  We believe that Brookhaven is an asset to New York and the nation, and that federal funding for cutting-edge research and development conducted at places like Brookhaven must be a priority if we, as a nation, are to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen our national and homeland security, help U.S. industry remain innovative and competitive, and create the jobs of the future.  Please let us know if we can be of assistance to you in any way.
 
Sincerely,
Charles E. Schumer
Kirsten Gillibrand
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