APS Supports Senate Letter Urging Emergency Science Funding

ITER Machine
Image courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The ITER Machine

ITER is an international experiment to determine the feasibility of fusion power.
The American Physical Society (APS) commends a bipartisan group of senators who signed a letter requesting that $350 million be included in the Fiscal Year 2008 supplemental appropriations bill to rectify the damage done to science by last year’s Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

Dated March 17, the letter urges funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the National Science Foundation to restore critical science programs. It was sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee leadership and signed by the following senators: Lamar Alexander (R-TN); Bob Corker (R-TN); Jeff Bingaman (D-NM); Pete Domenici (R-NM); Richard Durbin (D-IL); Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Ted Kennedy (D-MA); and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Funding shortfalls contained in the Omnibus have resulted in the loss of more than 500 jobs at national laboratories; cuts to grants and fellowships at universities; and reductions in operations of scientific user facilities. The Omnibus also eliminated the $160 million U.S. contribution to the construction of ITER, the centerpiece of international fusion energy research, damaging our nation’s reputation as a reliable partner for international projects.

The FY ’08 budget sent the wrong message to aspiring scientists who are considering entering the science field. Instead of doubling funding as outlined in the bipartisan American COMPETES Act, which Congress passed by an overwhelming margin last year, it even fails to provide for inflation-adjusted costs.

Investing in basic research reflects America’s pioneering heritage of pushing the frontiers of knowledge and has led to innovation, new jobs and unforeseen technological advances for our nation. Innovations such as the MRI, Global Positioning System and iPod all trace their roots to basic research funded by the federal government.

If we are to maintain our global leadership, the U.S. must launch the next generation of leading scientists and engineers by investing in basic scientific and engineering research, and math and science education. Restoring Funding in the FY ’08 budget is an important and necessary step in keeping our nation globally competitive. 

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