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With Current Cooperative Agreement Between U Of R Laser Lab And DOE’s NNSA Slated To Expire Soon, Schumer Urges NNSA To Finalize New Agreement Running From 2019 Through 2023; Senator Says U Of R’s Laser Lab Is Important To National Security And The Future Of American Innovation And Must Stay Fully Operational 

Schumer To DOE: With Current 5-Year Agreement Expiring This Fall, Focus Like a Laser Now To Finalize New 5-Year Agreement 

During an in-person meeting with the Department of Energy (DOE) Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer urged the NNSA to support a new 5-year, $425 million Cooperative Agreement (CA) with the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). Schumer explained that the LLE plays an important role in United States’ national security and scientific progress, and that a robust Cooperative Agreement is needed to keep the lab’s work on track.

“In my meeting with Administrator Gordon-Hagerty, I made it clear that the Rochester Laser Lab must have the resources it needs to continue its groundbreaking research and innovation - which includes a new cooperative agreement that will allow the lab to do just that. A new, robust 5-year agreement will enable the lab to continue to make vital contributions to national security and provide invaluable sources of scientific education and leadership that ultimately support DOE’s mission. I told her that the Rochester Laser Lab plays a paramount role in the national security of the United States, and is vital to the local economy, employing hundreds of scientists and bringing millions into the region,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why I urged the Administrator to approve a new 5- year, $425 million Cooperative Agreement with the Laser Lab that will keep its doors open and its scientists reaching new milestones.”

During his meeting with NNSA Administrator Gordon-Hagerty, Schumer urged the agency to approve a new 5-year Cooperative Agreement (CA) between the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration and the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE). Schumer said the new agreement builds on the University’s long and productive relationship with the U.S. Department of Energy for over 40 years.  The new Agreement would set forth $424,700,000 in work that would be performed at the LLE and its OMEGA Laser Facility between FY19-FY23 for the DOE’s energy discovery, scientific, and nuclear weapon stockpile security needs.  The current $345,094,000 Cooperative Agreement, enacted five years ago, is set to expire in three months when the federal Fiscal Year 2018 ends.  Schumer said through these 5-year agreements, the LLE and its OMEGA Laser Facility can continue to make vital contributions to national security and provide invaluable sources of scientific education and leadership to support DOE’s mission. The new Cooperative Agreement will support the cutting-edge research and operation of state-of-the-art facilities at the LLE in support of the DOE’s nuclear Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP). More specifically, it will support critical decisions related to the maintenance and modernization of weapons systems, and help achieve scientific milestones set in NNSA’s ten-year strategic plan for the overall Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) and High Energy Density Physics (HEDP) programs. It will also support growing demand for facility operations and experiments on OMEGA for non-ignition work directly in support of stockpile stewardship, advancing all three of the most viable approaches to fusion and supporting the research programs of the three NNSA labs.

Schumer added, “I am also re-inviting Administrator Gordon-Hagerty to come tour the LLE so she can see firsthand the world-class laser lab in action and see all the reasons why I'm pushing to make sure the new cooperative agreement is reviewed and approved. We must do everything we can so the Rochester Laser Lab can continue to grow now and in the future, especially considering the actions of countries like China and Russia who are working to beat the U.S. to new technological advancements by investing in their own facilities and research based on our ICF program. The United States of America has always taken pride in our scientific achievements, and I will continue fighting tirelessly to ensure that the facilities responsible for them have all the tools they need to keep working on behalf of the American people.”

Schumer visited the Laser Lab earlier this year to announce his three-prong push to keep the Labs’ 350 skilled Rochester workers on the job and reverse proposed plans by the Administration to shut down the lab in 3 years.  Specifically,  Schumer’s plan included securing $75 million in the Fiscal Year 2018 federal budget for the lab, pursuing $80 million for the lab in Fiscal Year 2019, and pushing the DOE to approve the new five-year Cooperative Agreement.  By March Schumer had accomplished the first prong by securing $75 million in the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus appropriations bill, and earlier this month secured $80 million for the lab in the Senate’s version of the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water appropriations bill.  To continue his push for the third and final prong, Schumer in this meeting urged the NNSA to swiftly finalize the new Cooperative Agreement, particularly since the current five-year agreement expires in 3 months on Sept 30th when Fiscal Year 2018 ends.

Since its inception in 1970, the LLE at the University of Rochester has continued to shine as one of the nation’s leading institutions in advanced physics, photonics, and optics. Schumer said the University of Rochester’s programs and research have aimed to strengthen national security, help discover new and efficient sources of energy, as well as train the next generation scientific workforce.

Schumer has long fought for Rochester’s Laser Lab. In past years, Schumer has helped secure millions of dollars for the lab and pledged to continue to work for funds to strengthen this first-class institution. Schumer helped secure $68 million in funding in the Fiscal Year 2016 spending bill for the LLE and advocated for federal investment in Fiscal Year 2017. Furthermore, in the 2018 bipartisan Omnibus spending bill, Schumer secured $75 million in funding for the LLE for Fiscal Year 2018, and in the Fiscal Year 2019 Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, another $80 million in funding for the LLE. Schumer stated that he will continue his efforts to help grow the laser lab, which is a key driver of Rochester’s optics and photonics industry and in maintaining the nation’s nuclear weapon stockpile while developing new clean energy sources.