The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of
Science would be a clear winner in the 2009 budget among R&D agencies because
of its key role in the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI),
and now the Senate Appropriations Committee has endorsed this proposal. R&D
in DOE Science would climb 15 percent from a recently augmented 2008 appropriation
to $4.2 billion, slightly off the request (see Table).
Most Science programs would receive substantial
increases to hit historic highs.
- The Senate would dramatically boost funding
for DOE’s energy R&D programs by 22 percent to $2.9 billion in 2009 after
enormous increases in 2007 and 2008, in contrast to a flat request. Funding for
most renewable energy R&D portfolios, energy conservation technologies, and
coal research would climb dramatically in the Senate plan. In fossil fuels, coal
R&D would soar 31 percent to $644 million despite the elimination of FutureGen
funding, including a 25 percent boost to $149 million for carbon sequestration
research. In renewables, funding for biomass, solar energy, wind energy, geothermal,
and hydropower R&D would climb dramatically.
- The total DOE R&D portfolio would soar
12.7 percent or $1.2 billion to $11.0 billion in the Senate appropriation (see
- DOE’s defense R&D portfolio would increase
4.2 percent to $3.9 billion, including a large gain for nonproliferation R&D.
The Senate would zero out funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead.
DOE R&D in FY 2009 Senate Appropriations
On July 10, the Senate Appropriations
Committee approved its version of the FY 2009 Energy-Water appropriations bill
(S 3258) providing funding for the Department of Energy (DOE), the Corps of Engineers,
and other agencies, for possible consideration by the full Senate in July. The
Senate would spend $2 billion more on the bill’s programs in 2009 than the President’s
request for a total of $33 billion in discretionary funding. President
Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) and Advanced Energy Initiative
(AEI), both set for their third years in 2009, have made the Department of Energy’s
(DOE) R&D programs a high priority within a tight domestic budget. DOE’s Office
of Science is the largest federal sponsor of physical sciences research and is
thus one of three federal agencies (the other two are the National
Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards
and Technology laboratories) that would receive substantial increases to fulfill
the ACI’s goal of increasing federal investments in basic physical sciences research.
DOE’s energy R&D portfolio is a key Administration and congressional priority
that received enormous increases in 2007 and 2008.
Senate would use a large portion of its extra domestic spending allocation to
boost the total DOE budget by $1 billion over the request, for a total of $27.0
billion (up 11.5 percent or $2.8 billion; see Table). (The 2008 figures include
$125 million in supplemental appropriations DOE received on June 30 as part of
the 2008 supplemental bill, $62.5 million each for the Office of Science and Defense
Environmental Cleanup.) The DOE R&D portfolio would climb $1.2 billion or
12.7 percent to $11.0 billion in the 2009 Senate appropriation (see Table).
(2008 DOE R&D figures include $62.5 million in Office of Science funding enacted
in the 2008 supplemental.)
in the DOE Office of Science
Office of Science has long been the dominant federal sponsor of physical sciences
research, especially in physics and related fields. It is also an important supporter
of computer sciences, mathematics, environmental sciences, materials research,
nanotechnology, and engineering; the Bush Administration’s push to boost physical
sciences broadly defined through large increases in the Science budget would pay
off for all research areas. The ACI envisions the Science budget doubling between
2006 and 2016, but so far Science appropriations have fallen short of that trajectory.
In 2007, DOE requested a 14 percent increase for Science funding, and ended up
with 5 percent; in 2008, the request was for a 16 percent increase, but again
the increase was 5 percent; the 2008 supplemental added an extra 2 percent a few
weeks ago. To catch up with the ACI’s ten-year funding trajectory, the Senate
would nearly match DOE’s request with a $4.6 billion Science budget, $560 million
or 13.7 percent over the new 2008 total and $82 million less than the request.
More than 90 percent of the Science budget goes to R&D activities; Science
R&D would gain 15.2 percent in the FY 2009 Senate appropriation to $4.2 billion,
making DOE Science the big winner among R&D funding agencies in Senate appropriations
so far (see Table). The large increase would mark a departure from the flat or
declining funding trends of recent years (see Figure 1), and in real terms would
match the peak budgets of the early 1990s before the Superconducting Super Collider
Figure 1. (click on the image for
PDF)Funding for every Science program would increase
substantially, with the largest boosts for programs that faced the most disappointing
outcomes in 2008 appropriations, including a 63 percent increase for fusion research,
an 18 percent boost for nuclear physics, and a 12 percent increase for high-energy
The Office of Science supports cutting-edge
research through a mix of laboratory research at DOE’s national laboratories,
university-based research, and the construction and operation of large scientific
user facilities that can be used by external researchers for their experiments.
Roughly half of Science R&D funding goes to operate and construct facilities,
while the other half supports research, mostly at DOE laboratories but a large
portion at universities. The laboratory research and large facilities are housed
primarily at ten Science laboratories that are federally owned and contractor
operated, such as the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, and Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.
After a significant hit in
2008 that nearly ended the U.S.
contribution to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project,
fusion research would total $493 million as requested in the Senate appropriation,
up $191 million or 63 percent. Nearly the entire increase would go to a $215 million
ITER contribution in 2009 on the project now underway in France,
after appropriators almost zeroed out U.S.
participation in ITER in 2008 to preserve funding for domestic fusion programs;
$15.5 million of the recent $62.5 million supplemental went to ITER to bring the
2008 U.S. ITER program to $26 million. Domestic fusion projects in New
and Massachusetts would mostly stay
even in 2009 after an increase in 2008. The High-Energy Physics (HEP) program also took
a significant hit in 2008 appropriations, but would rebound in the 2009 Senate
appropriation with $805 million, the same as the request and up $84 million or
11.6 percent from a recently augmented 2008 appropriation. The program does most
of its work at three facilities located at two DOE labs (Fermilab in Illionois
and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in California)
and also cooperates in the international Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland,
for which the U.S.
recently completed its contribution. In wrapping up 2008 appropriations, Congress
slashed funding for HEP compared to the request, which resulted in layoff notices
and furloughs at the Fermilab in Illinois.
The 2008 supplemental added $32 million to HEP a few weeks ago, which enabled
Fermilab to halt the announced layoffs, to end the furloughs, and to resume development
of a future neutrino research program. The supplemental also
included funds to allow SLAC to recover slightly from staff reductions necessitated
by the 2008 appropriation. The Nuclear Physics program would also receive
a strong 18 percent boost to $510 million in the 2009 request and Senate appropriation,
allowing for a full schedule of operations at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider
(RHIC) in New York. RHIC recently
received $1.5 million in the 2008 supplemental to sustain operations for the rest
of this fiscal year. Basic Energy Sciences (BES) has fared the best
among Science program areas in recent years, although the 2008 appropriation resulted
in the cancellation of several grants competitions. The program would continue
to do well in 2009 with a 10.3 percent increase to $1.4 billion in 2009. BES is
the only Science program where the Senate appropriation would fall short of the
request (by $153 million), but $59 million of the shortfall would be from the
Senate’s transfer of solar-related research to the Solar Energy portfolio in energy
programs. BES would initiate new Energy Frontier Research Centers, a $100 million
competitively awarded research program on basic research for energy technologies.
Construction funding for the National Synchrotron Light Source II, follow-on construction
for the Advanced Light Source, and the final phases of the Linac Coherent Light
Source would keep the program busy with a full plate of future facilities, even
as the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and two other neutron sources, four light
sources and five nanoscale research centers would keep current operations at a
high level. BES recently received $13.5 million in the 2008 supplemental for its
synchrotron light sources and the SNS. High-performance computing research in the Advanced
Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) program would be in for a 5 percent boost
to $369 million in the Senate plan and request to expand the availability of high-performance
computing capacity that researchers can use for their experiments, primarily at
Oak Ridge and Argonne
laboratories. Biological and Environmental Research (BER) could increase 10 percent
in 2009 to $599 million in the Senate appropriation, $30 million more than the
request, to lead DOE’s charge into bioenergy, genomics, and climate change modeling,
including funding for three bioenergy research centers in Tennessee, Wisconsin,
and California to work on cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels. The Senate would
add $10 million to the request for nuclear medicine, and $20 million for climate
change research. After more than a decade of cuts and stagnant
budgets, the DOE Office of Science would climb back to Cold War-era funding levels
to an all-time high if the 2009 Senate appropriation prevails (see Figure 1).
Most individual Science programs would reach new highs in the 2009 Senate appropriation.
DOE Energy R&D ProgramsIn the last few years, DOE’s applied investments
in energy R&D have expanded dramatically from roughly $1.5 billion a year
to well over $2 billion (see Figure 1). In 2009, DOE would sustain enormous 2007
and 2008 increases in energy R&D with a $2.4 billion request, up $11 million
or 0.5 percent, but the Senate would appropriate another enormous increase of
22.1 percent to bring the energy R&D portfolio to $2.9 billion (see Table),
nearly doubling in just three years.
The Senate would boost R&D in the Energy
Efficiency and Renewable Energy portfolio by 15.3 percent to $1.4 billion instead
of a requested cut. Although hydrogen
technology R&D would fall 17 percent to $175 million, mostly because of the
transfer of some hydrogen vehicle funding to the vehicle technology program, R&D
on every other technology area would increase dramatically. Biomass
R&D would continue its spectacular recent growth with a 19 percent boost to
$235 million, up from $90 million as recently as 2006, while solar
energy R&D spending would be $229 million, nearly triple the $82 million as
recently as 2006. Nearly all of the Senate’s solar increase would come from the
transfer of $59 million in solar-related funding from Basic Energy Sciences in
Science. The geothermal R&D program would get a boost in 2009 to $30 million,
up 51 percent, while wind energy funding would increase by 26 percent. The Senate
would reverse a proposed cut in the hydropower program and instead triple funding
to $30 million. Among the energy conservation programs, building technologies
would receive the largest increase with a 62 percent boost to $176 million, while
vehicle technology would increase 38 percent to $293 million, in part from the
transfer of some programs from Hydrogen.
Also in line for a big increase is nuclear energy
R&D, a renewable energy technology funded in a separate account, up 28 percent
to $566 million in the 2009 Senate plan, a reduction from an even larger request.
Part of the large increase is from the transfer in of programs from other DOE
accounts and partially from a dramatic proposed increase in advanced fuel cycle
R&D because of its key role in the Administration’s signature Global Nuclear
Energy Partnership (GNEP) to promote spent nuclear fuel recycling. The Senate
would reduce GNEP-inspired requested increases, but advanced fuel cycle R&D
would still show an increase compared to 2008. The Senate would also authorize
a new Integrated University Program and give it $45 million in start-up funding
for 2009, composed of $15 million each from the Nuclear Energy portfolio, the
Nonproliferation and Verification R&D portfolio from DOE’s defense side, and
the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The new program would support
university-based nuclear engineering programs throughout the nation with research
grants to universities.
Fossil energy R&D would climb 34.5 percent
in 2009 to $775 million in the Senate plan, with an emphasis on coal research.
As in past years, the Senate would fight off DOE’s proposals to put all its eggs
into the coal basket by saving R&D on other fossil fuels from proposed elimination.
Still, coal R&D would gain a whopping 31 percent to $644 million. The Senate
would zero out funding for the recently restructured FutureGen program to express
its opposition to DOE’s changes to this project to develop a near-emission-free,
coal-fired electricity and hydrogen production plant from a single R&D facility
to multiple commercial-scale demonstrations. Instead, the Senate would shift FutureGen
money to the Clean Coal Power Initiative program to develop and demonstrate cleaner
coal-based power plants, resulting in a tripling of its budget from $69 million
to $232 million. And carbon sequestration research, funded in the coal program
because the primary goal is to sequester carbon from coal-fired power plants in
geologic formations, would climb 25 percent to $149 million after similar increases
the past two years; additional carbon capture and strorage R&D would be funded
in the Clean Coal Power Initiative portfolio. The Senate would also provide $60
million for Fuel Cells Research within the Coal portfolio to complement efforts
in the Hydrogen and Basic Energy Sciences portfolios. And although the budget
would eliminate the oil R&D and gas R&D programs, the Senate would restore
funding. And the Senate would also prevent DOE from blocking $50 million in mandatory
funding for an ultra-deepwater and unconventional natural gas and other petroleum
research fund that was created in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 for a 2007 start.
DOE Defense R&D
DOE and its predecessors have
long had responsibility for managing the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, supplying
nuclear reactors to the Navy, and dealing with the environmental consequences
of nuclear weapons work. DOE’s defense R&D to address these responsibilities
would gain 4.2 percent or $157 million to $3.9 billion in the 2009 Senate appropriation
(see Table). The core Weapons Activities program would
receive $6.5 billion in 2009. A little less than half of this spending goes to
R&D activities, for a total of $2.8 billion (up 1.9 percent). To keep pace
with an increasing reliance on complex high-end computing simulations of nuclear
explosions, the Advanced Simulation and Computing program would receive $574 million
(down 0.1 percent). The program, the defense counterpart to the nondefense ASCR
program, mostly takes place in DOE’s three weapons laboratories (Los
Alamos and Sandia in New Mexico,
Lawrence Livermore in California).
The Inertial Confinement Fusion program, aimed at simulating nuclear weapons fusion
under controlled laboratory conditions, would receive $453 million, down 3.6 percent
primarily because construction costs would wind down on the National Ignition
Facility in California, the program’s
new flagship science facility.
DOE proposal to initiate research on a new generation of nuclear weapons has been
opposed by Congress so far, and once again the Senate would try to halt DOE’s
efforts to press on with the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) project to explore
new warhead designs for use with existing nuclear weapons. DOE recently selected
Lawrence Livermore to design the RRW, but the project still faces continuing skepticism
in Congress over whether the U.S.
needs new warheads, even for existing weapons. Congress zeroed out RRW development
funding in 2008, DOE requested $10 million in 2009, and now the Senate would zero
out 2009 funding, although funding for RRW could remain in other programs.
big winner in Senate plans for DOE’s defense R&D is the Nonproliferation and
Verification R&D portfolio, increasing 27 percent or $57 million to $265 million.
Part of the increase is $15 million in new money for DOE defense’s contribution
to the Integrated University Program, but most of the increase would aim to improve
in proliferation and detection through an expanded R&D effort involving detection
research, improved computer modeling capabilities and nuclear forensics research.
and Next Steps
full Senate could debate and approve the Energy-Water bill in July, but may not
debate the bill at all before the November elections. There is almost no chance
that Congress will send a final version of the bill to President Bush before the
October 1 start of FY 2009. The President has threatened to veto any 2009 appropriations
bill that exceeds his request; since Senate version of the bill does so and since
Congress is not inclined to do the heavy lifting of negotiating a House-Senate
compromise bill only to see it vetoed, the bill may have a long way to go before
its funding levels become final. The promised Senate increase for DOE in 2009,
if it happens at all, could be delayed until next January.
analysis is one of a series of AAAS R&D Funding Updates on FY 2009 congressional
appropriations. The complete series of AAAS R&D Funding Updates, including
continually updated analyses of R&D in FY 2009 appropriations, is available
on the AAAS R&D web site (http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd)
in the "FY 2009 R&D" or the "What's
- July 16, 2008
AAAS R&D Budget and Policy
1200 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20005
R&D Web site: http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd