December 08, 2011

Schumer, Gillibrand Reveal: House Budget Cuts Could Delay Construction of Brookhaven National Lab’s National Lightsource II; Senators Urge Key Senate Committee to Fully Fund BNL’s Crucial Programs

Under House Budget, Funding Will Be Slashed for National Lightsource 2, A Next-Generation X-Ray Light Source, As Well for The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand today revealed that under the budget passed by the House of Representatives, funding for key programs at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) would be slashed, jeopardizing research and high-tech jobs on Long Island. The House version of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill would cut funding for the ongoing construction of the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), delaying and increasing the total cost of the project. The bill could also lead to cuts in operational funding for BNL’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC). In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water in the Committee on Appropriations, Schumer and Gillibrand urged the Senators to preserve funding for these crucial programs in the final Senate conference agreement.

“Brookhaven National Lab is the cutting edge of scientific research that produces knowledge, jobs, prestige and economic energy. Our competitors around the world are investing heavily in science and tech research and to remain the world leader in we must fully fund these crucial programs,” said Schumer. “I urge my colleagues to make sure that Brookhaven National labs gets every cent it needs to remain a leader in path-breaking scientific research.” 

“Brookhaven National Laboratory is not only a local asset for Long Island, creating thousands of high-tech jobs across the region and state, it is a facility that has made significant contributions to the world of science and technology,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The ideas and theories that are generated by the thousands of scientists and researchers that visit the lab can only be made a reality if they have the proper resources and facilities at their disposal. We cannot let Brookhaven National Lab be hindered by these cuts,” 

The House bill included only $140.8 million for the construction of the NSLS-II – over $10 million short of what the Senate bill allocates. NSLS II is a new state-of-the-art electron storage ring designed to deliver world-leading intensity and brightness. When completed, it will produce broad and practical impacts on a wide range of initiatives in nanotechnology, biomedicine, and clean and affordable energy. Currently, some 2200 university, industry, and government scientists – including scientists from IBM, ExxonMobil, GE, AT&T, and DOW Chemical – rely on the current NSLS to image and analyze the molecular structure of materials. 

In addition, currently both the House and Senate bills could decrease the operational funding for the RHIC program at BNL. RHIC is the only remaining operational collider in the U.S., and is a scientific workhorse.  Approximately 1000 scientists from around the world and 200 students rely on RHIC, and 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. 

Schumer and Gillibrand today wrote to the chairman and ranking member urging them to support funding these priority programs in the final conference agreement. Schumer and Gillibrand noted that without full funding for NSLS-II, the project could experience a 1-2 month schedule delay, and the total cost of the project could increase $3 million. Schumer and Gillibrand also noted that since there are considerable fixed costs associated with the operation and maintenance of RHIC – regardless of whether it operates for one week or 30 – even a slight decrease in the RHIC budget has a disproportionate impact on its operating or “run” time. Cutting funding for RHIC could adversely impact funding for RHIC operations to a point where the run in FY 2012 may have to be significantly curtailed. Schumer and Gillibrand noted that both Representatives Steve Israel (D-NY) and Tim Bishop (D-NY) opposed the cuts. 

Schumer and Gillibrand argued 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 the United States is 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. 

Brookhaven National Laboratory, established in 1947 and located in Upton, Long Island, is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates for the United States Department of Energy. Brookhaven's staff of over 3,000 scientists, engineers and technicians specializes in nuclear physics research and has received an impressive six Nobel Prizes for their groundbreaking work. Brookhaven Lab's programs include the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) designated to researching quark-gluon plasma, the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), National Synchotron Light Source II (NSLSII), and the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN).