FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2005
Schumer, Clinton and Rep. Tim Bishop Meet Energy Department’s Science Director Seeking Full Funding of BNL Project
WASHINGTON, DC - With Brookhaven National Lab threatened by significant cuts to major scientific programs, New York Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Congressman Tim Bishop met in the U.S. Capitol today with the Energy Department’s chief science officer, Dr. Raymond Orbach, to urge him to restore funding to BNL’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC). Schumer, Clinton and Bishop requested the meeting last month (letter attached).
Dr. Orbach agreed with the members of Congress that the RHIC is an integral part of the country's scientific infrastructure and shared his support for ongoing initiatives at Brookhaven. However, the Science Director was unable to provide assurance that any funding was available within the Science portion of the Energy Department budget.
"Brookhaven National Labs is a world class research facility that supports our nation's security and Long Island's job base. In a post 9-11 world, the Energy Department and Congress should be putting more resources into the lab, not cutting its funding. I have long led the fight to promote and support BNL. I will fight with my federal partners to provide the monies necessary to maintain BNL's preeminence," stated Senator Charles Schumer.
“While we remain disappointed that we find ourselves in this situation - caused by the President’s short-sighted budget priorities - we will continue to urge the Department of Energy to invest the money that is needed to ensure Brookhaven’s future,” said Senator Clinton following the meeting today. “At a time when this nation’s leadership in science and research is under threat, the Secretary of Energy should be most concerned about this shortfall and act to fund this world-renowned facility. Brookhaven is a premiere research institution that supports critically important jobs and scientific breakthroughs with benefits not only for Long Island and the entire nation. I will continue to fight for additional funding from the Department of Energy to makeup for the shortfall in the President’s budget for Brookhaven Lab.”
"If this Administration can’t find funding to operate a world-class research tool like RHIC, the United States could lose its competitive edge in science and technology, and the nation as a whole will suffer. Not only am I concerned about the loss of the scientific research, but I am extremely concerned about the prospect of losing highly-skilled scientists and engineers,” Bishop stated. “That is why I will continue to fight the budget cut and urge the Department of Energy to fully fund the RHIC's operations, because it is vital for America's scientific community,” Bishop added.
Senators Schumer and Clinton, and Representative Bishop are now requesting a meeting with Samuel Bodman, the Secretary of Energy, and will urge him to find funding within his $24 billion budget to restore the $20 million that is necessary to pay for the RHIC's operation this year.
President Bush’s fiscal year 2006 budget, proposed in February, slashed funding for the RHIC, one of the country’s most important scientific devices. In response, Bishop led the successful effort to restore funding in the Energy and Water Resources Appropriations bill passed by the House in May, while Schumer and Clinton successfully restored funding in the Senate version of the spending bill in July. Without explanation, the project’s restored funding was stripped by the appropriations conference in November.
The RHIC is a world-renowned 2.4-mile superconductor that accelerates gold ions to nearly the speed of light and causes collisions that recreate the ‘Big Bang’, offering a glimpse into the birth of the universe during its first few microseconds. Budget cuts for the RHIC, combined with increased energy costs, may result in the facility being used as little as five weeks over the next year.