House FY 2015 DOE Office of Science Appropriations Bill

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Publication date: 
19 June 2014
Number: 
112

The House Appropriations Committee has approved an FY 2015 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill.  The $34 billion bill provides funding for the Department of Energy, including the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration.  During yesterday’s markup session a few amendments were considered to the bill developed by Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee; none affected funding levels for the Office of Science.

The Senate Appropriations Committee was scheduled to vote on its version of this bill today.  That session was postponed and a new date has not been announced.  The postponement was reported to have been made because of concerns that an amendment to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon emissions from power plants might have been approved. The Senate bill provided $5,086 million for the Office of Science.  

The House Appropriations Committee has posted a draft version of the report accompanying its legislation.  The report’s seven page section on the Office of Science starts on page 116. Interested readers are strongly urged to read pertinent sections in their entirety as only selected excerpts are provided below.  Funding tables can be found on pages 164-167 of the report.  Information on the FY 2015 Administration budget request is here.  Note that there are minor variances in the funding levels for FY 2014 between the House report and the administration’s figures.

Total Office of Science:
The FY 2014 appropriation was $5,066.4 million
The FY 2015 request is $5,111.2 million, an increase of $44.8 million or 0.9 percent
The House bill provides $5,071.0 million, an increase of $4.6 million or 0.1 percent above current funding. 

The report states:

“The Committee has placed a high priority on funding these [Office of Science] activities within the limited resources available in fiscal year 2015, given the private sector is not likely to fund research whose findings either have high non-commercial value or are not likely to be commercialized in the near- or medium-term. However, this work is vital to sustaining the scientific leadership of the United States and can provide the underpinnings for valuable intellectual property in the coming decades.”

Within the Office of Science are the following selected programs:

Advanced Scientific Computing Research:
The FY 2014 appropriation was $478.1 million
The FY 2015 request is $541.0 million, an increase of $62.9 million or 13.2 percent
The House bill provides $541.0 million, an increase of $62.9 million or 13.2 percent above current funding

Basic Energy Sciences:
The FY 2014 appropriation was $1,711.9 million
The FY 2015 request is $1,806.5 million, an increase of $94.6 million or 5.5 percent
The House bill provides $1,702.0 million, a decrease of $9.9 million or 0.6 percent below current funding

Of note, the report states:

“The program’s budget consists of funding for research, the operation of existing user facilities, and the design, procurement, and construction of new facilities and equipment. The long-term success of the program hinges on striking a careful balance among these three areas. However, the increasing level of research commitments and completion of new facilities make it difficult to adequately fund all three components of the Basic Energy Sciences program within existing budgetary constraints. The Committee strongly cautions the Department against assuming an ever-increasing budget when planning the balance among facility runtime, construction, and research funding.”

Biological and Environmental Research:
The FY 2014 appropriation was $609.7 million
The FY 2015 request is $628.0 million, an increase of $18.3 million or 3.0 percent
The House bill provides $540.0 million, a decrease of $69.7 million or 11.4 percent below current funding

The report states:

“The recommendation includes no funding for the new Climate Model Development and Validation activity.”

Fusion Energy Sciences:
The FY 2014 appropriation was $504.7 million
The FY 2015 request is $416.0 million, a decrease of $88.7 million or 17.6 percent
The House bill provides $540.0 million, an increase of $35.3 million or 7.0 percent above current funding

The report has two pages detailing the committee’s funding recommendations and guidance for the fusion energy sciences program.  It gives strong support for the domestic fusion program.  Regarding ITER, the extensive language states:

“The Committee continues its support for a robust fusion program and believes ITER to be an important international collaboration that represents a major step forward for the fusion energy sciences.  However, the Committee is alarmed by the breadth of the findings in the latest management assessment report and dismayed that the main challenge for the project remains its management, rather than the science and technology of the experiment itself. The Committee interprets the collection of these shortfalls as a serious threat to the ultimate success of the project.”

The report continues:

“The Committee strongly supports the recent efforts of the ITER Council to adopt the latest management assessment recommendations and, by the summer of 2015, to adopt a realistic schedule and funding profile for the ITER project among all member nations. For fiscal year 2015, the Committee includes funding to allow the ITER Council the time it needs to implement these recommendations as soon as practicable.  Should the ITER Council fail in its attempts to create a strong project culture within the ITER Organization, the Committee questions whether the project can succeed as a scientific experiment and, as such, will be forced to reconsider its support for the international project.”

The report criticizes the Administration’s request, calling it “not a fiscally responsible proposal” because, the committee writes, it would lead to schedule and cost overruns.   

High Energy Physics:
The FY 2014 appropriation was $796.5 million
The FY 2015 request is $744.0 million, a decrease of $52.5 million or 6.6 percent
The House bill provides $775.0 million, a decrease of $21.5 million or 2.7 percent below current funding

There is lengthy report language.  Regarding the P5 report, the committee report states:

“The Committee notes that the high energy physics research community is currently engaged in developing a ten-year plan for U.S. particle physics, which will include a ten-year report by the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel under various budget scenarios. The Committee applauds the Department for this undertaking and continues to support a clearly articulated vision under realistic budget scenarios for each of the Science programs. The Committee encourages the Department to make modifications to its high energy physics fiscal year 2015 budget request as necessary based on the findings of this multi-step planning process.”

Regarding the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment, the report explains:

“The Committee recognizes the importance of this project to maintaining American leadership in the intensity frontier and to basic science discovery of neutrino and standard model physics. However, the Committee also recognizes that LBNE construction must be affordable under existing budgetary constraints.”

Nuclear Physics:
The FY 2014 appropriation was $569.1 million
The FY 2015 request is 593.6 million, an increase of $24.4 million or 4.3 percent
The House bill provides $600.0 million, an increase of $30.9 million or 5.4 percent above current funding

The report includes language pertaining to the 12GeV Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, and the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.