Last fall, Congress passed H. R. 2419, which set the FY2006 budget for the Office of Science in the Department of Energy. This budget impacted nuclear physics particularly severely. At its November meeting the APS Executive Board passed a resolution expressing its distress and calling for a rearrangement of priorities in FY2007.
The following is the text of the resolution.
- The Executive Board of the American Physical Society is greatly distressed by the damaging conference action on H.R. 2419, which eliminated the small but critical increases for the Department of Energy’s scientific research programs that both houses of Congress had previously approved. The Board notes that in the face of inflationary increases in wages and energy costs, H.R. 2419 will force the Department to make significant reductions in its university programs and in operations of its national research facilities.
- The Executive Board also notes that: The budget adopted by the conferees rolled back funding for most Office of Science programs to levels requested by the White House last February; And at that time, in response to queries, DOE officials agreed that such budgetary levels would result in a shortfall of $100 million in university grants, amounting to a ten percent reduction in the level of scientific effort.
- Finally, the Executive Board notes that: The budget Congress adopted will discourage young Americans from pursuing careers in the physical sciences at a time when industrial leaders are warning that our nation is losing out in the global competition for intellectual capital; And the budget runs counter to calls by industrial leaders for sharp increases in federal investments in physical science basic research and education to address the alarming deficits in our high-tech balance of trade. Funding provided by H.R. 2419 leaves virtually every Office of Science program under considerable stress. For example, Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York has already announced that it is making plans to lay off 100 members of its staff and suspend activities at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, which is just now reaching the peak of its scientific productivity. Similarly, Thomas Jefferson Laboratory in Virginia is making plans to lay off 40 members of its staff and reduce operations by 25 percent.
- It is also very likely that DOE’s Office of Science will have to consider reducing operations at all four of the Department’s X-Ray synchrotron light sources–which are fully subscribed by industrial and university researchers in many scientific fields, including medicine–and will have to defer plans for upgrading Brookhaven’s National Synchrotron Light Source, a facility that will soon become non-competitive with new European X-Ray laboratories nearing completion.
- In the opinion of the APS Executive Board, H.R. 2419 sets our nation on a course that, if sustained, will soon place us at a competitive disadvantage in science, technology, innovation and global trade. The Board is especially concerned that Congress set the nation on this course at the same time it increased earmarks for Members’ special projects by more than 60 percent from FY 2005 to $130 million. The Board calls on Congress to assess the damage H.R. 2419 will do to our science programs and the development of our high-tech workforce. The Board urges Congress to rearrange its priorities next year before the damage becomes irreparable.
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Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff