08.19.19

FOLLOWING HIS MAJOR PUSH, SCHUMER ANNOUNCES TOP-BRASS AT NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION WILL MAKE FIRST-EVER VISIT TO U OF R LASER LAB TOMORROW & SEE HOW CRITICAL FACILITY KEEPS U.S. AT THE TOP OF HIGH-ENERGY LASER INNOVATION & SAFEGUARDS THE NATION’S NUCLEAR STOCKPILE

Last Year, During His Push To Save Laser Lab From Administration’s Elimination Plans, Schumer Invited National Nuclear Security Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty To Tour Laser Lab; Reiterated Request In Personal Meeting With NNSA Administrator 

Senator Today Announces On August 20, NNSA Administrator Gordon-Hagerty Will Tour The Laser Lab, To See Up Close The World-Class Operation’s Ability To Boost National Security & The Rochester-Finger Lakes’ Economy

Schumer: Visit From Top NNSA Brass Will Help Secure Laser Lab’s Future & Nation’s Nuclear Stockpile

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, at his request, Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty will be making her first-ever visit to the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) on August 20th. Initially, Schumer wrote to invite Administrator Gordon-Hagerty to tour the Laser Lab when he launched a three-pronged plan to save the facility in March 2018, after the administration’s budget proposal threatened shutting it down.  Schumer then reiterated his invitation during an in-person meeting with Administrator Gordon-Hagerty in June 2018, citing the paramount role the Laser Lab plays in U.S. national security and the Rochester-Finger Lakes economy. Schumer succeeded last year in his plan to keep the Laser Lab open and secured back-to back record increases in Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 funding for the Lab to keep its 350 Rochester workers on the job. 

“The U of R Laser Lab, a trailblazer in research and discovery that’s been home to Noble Prize-winning discoveries, plays a fundamental role in U.S. national security by helping to safeguard the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile and provides 350 good-paying jobs to the Rochester-Finger Lakes economy,” said Senator Schumer. “I’m so glad to hear that NNSA Administrator Gordon-Hagerty has heeded my numerous requests and will be touring the laser lab tomorrow, to see first-hand how the facility is vital to the NNSA’s mission to safeguard our nuclear stockpile and to train the next generation of skilled workers needed to fulfill NNSA’s mission. We must do everything we can so that the Laser Lab continues to grow now and in the future, especially considering the actions of foreign competitors like China and Russia who are working to beat the U.S. in the race towards advances in high-energy physics, and Administrator Gordon-Hagerty’s visit will help it to do just that.”

“I’m very pleased that NNSA Administrator Gordon-Hagerty will be touring the Rochester Laser Lab to see firsthand the contributions that it provides for both the Rochester community and our national security,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Laser Lab’s groundbreaking research helps advance our scientific knowledge and provides essential support to our nation’s nuclear capabilities. I am hopeful that Administrator Gordon-Hagerty’s visit will serve as an important step forward in the relationship between the Laser Lab and its federal partners, and I will always fight to ensure that the Laser Lab has the resources it needs for its important work for our country.”

“The Laboratory for Laser Energetics is a world-class institution and leader in cutting edge scientific research,” said Rep. Morelle. “I am excited that DOE Under-Secretary and NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty will be able to see this unique facility firsthand and learn about the innovative applications being developed that have the potential to aid U.S. national security. I look forward to Ms. Gordon-Hagerty’s visit and commend the University of Rochester on their continued excellence.”

“The Laboratory for Laser Energetics is one of the highest federal research priorities for the University and is a source of innovation and fundamental discovery of which we are rightfully proud. As the largest university-based DOE program, we understand and share the Administrator’s strong interest in growing the NNSA’s highly-skilled workforce. We are very thankful for her visit and are excited for this opportunity to showcase our wonderful students, scientists, faculty, and staff who make the LLE the word-class facility it is. Our partnership with NNSA has been enormously productive for the nation and the advancement of science, and we look forward to strengthening that relationship with Tuesday’s visit. We want to thank Senator Schumer for helping facilitate this visit and for his tireless leadership and support to the University. We are incredibly grateful for the strong Congressional support we receive for the LLE. Continued investment in the LLE will advance the nation’s scientific leadership, strengthen our national and economic security, foster the development of new technologies and companies, grow our local economy, and support efforts to find an affordable, plentiful, and efficient source of energy for the future,” said Sarah Mangelsdorf, University of Rochester President.

Established in 1970, the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) of the University of Rochester is a unique national resource for research and education in science and technology and a major asset of the University not found at any other university in the country. Both the Rochester area and the University have a history of innovation that provides a singular environment for LLE within a technologically sophisticated scientific community.

LLE is the largest U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) university-based research program in the entire nation and is home to the OMEGA lasers (Omega and Omega EP) – the largest and most capable at any academic institution in the world. Working in partnership with three national security Department of Energy laboratories (Los Alamos, Sandia, and Livermore), the LLE is recognized nationally and internationally for its ICF (Inertial Confinement Fusion ) and high energy density science research as part of the nuclear Stockpile Security Program (SSP).  Schumer said since the banning of underground nuclear testing, the only way to get the information needed for performance, weapons effects, and the safety of our current aging nuclear weapon stockpile is by doing ICF test experiments. Eighty percent of these ICF test experiments are done at the University of Rochester Laser Lab.  LLE conducts implosion and basic physics experiments in support of the national Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program, validates advanced concepts for ICF to be used on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in order to demonstrate ignition and energy gain, serves as the principal laser research facility for three national laboratories, and is the only ICF facility with education as a primary mission. It is a vital component of the nation’s scientific capital and leadership, and key to strategic work on an independent energy future.

In his invitation letter to NNSA Administrator Gordon-Hagerty, Schumer noted during Gordon-Hagerty’s confirmation hearings she stated that among the DOE and NNSA’s unique responsibilities is to ensure the safety, security, and reliability of our nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. As such, she said that one of DOE’s top priorities for achieving this mission will be to develop a skilled workforce to ensure that the nation’s “nuclear security enterprise continues to employ the brightest and the best by recruiting, retaining, and growing the highly skilled workforce needed to maintain the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.”  Schumer wrote that a visit to LLE is a perfect opportunity to excel in both of these pursuits. Schumer explained that the LLE is vital in terms of both enabling the NNSA to meet this responsibility of ensuring our Nation’s nuclear stockpile is safe and reliable, as well as advancing the government’s priority of developing and educating the next generation workforce of scientists, engineers, and technicians that our nation needs.

As one of the premier institutions training the next generation of leaders in the fields of physics, optics, and material science, LLE is an economic development magnet that provides high-tech jobs and attracts scientific talent to the Rochester community. Many Rochester companies, including Sydor Technologies, QED Technologies, and Lucid, were created as a result of the Lab and now employ hundreds of people. LLE’s work has also generated almost $16 million in business with more than 50 local companies across New York State since 2015.

Since its inception, the LLE has attracted more than $2.3 billion to New York State to support cutting-edge research. Through the LLE’s mission, the University also attracts as many as 400 additional visiting scientists each year to Rochester from national laboratories, universities, and companies, and currently hosts over 145 students (graduate, undergraduate, and high school).

Schumer and Gillibrand have long fought for Rochester’s Laser Lab. In past years, the senators have helped secure millions of dollars for the lab and pledged to continue to work for funds to strengthen this first-class institution. They 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 and Gillibrand 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. Earlier this year, the senators announced their push to boost federal funding to over $82 million in Fiscal Year 2020.  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.

A copy of Schumer’s March 2018 letter to NNSA Administrator Gordon-Hagerty inviting her to tour the Laser Lab appears below:

Dear Administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty,

Congratulations on your confirmation last month as the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).  In your new role, I want to invite you to join me for a visit and tour of one of the key institutions vital to the NNSA’s mission: the OMEGA Laser Facility at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE).  The OMEGA lasers (Omega and Omega EP) are the largest and most capable found at any academic institution either in the United States or abroad. 

I appreciated during your confirmation hearing testimony when you stated that among the DOE and NNSA’s unique responsibilities is to ensure the safety, security, and reliability of our nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, and as such, one of your top priorities for achieving this mission will be to develop a skilled workforce to ensure that the nation’s “nuclear security enterprise continues to employ the brightest and the best by recruiting, retaining, and growing the highly skilled workforce needed to maintain the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.” 

For the DOE and NNSA to excel on both these pursuits, look no further than the LLE.  The LLE is vital to both enable the NNSA to meet this responsibility of ensuring our nuclear stockpile is safe and reliable, as well as to advance your priority of developing and educating the next generation workforce of scientists, engineers, and technicians that our nation needs.

Together with the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, and the Z Facility at Los Alamos at Sandia National Lab, the University of Rochester’s LLE is one of only three facilities used by the DOE to conduct its Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program work as part of the DOE’s Stockpile Stewardship Program. The ICF program is a critical component of the Stockpile Stewardship Program that maintains a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent.  Without underground nuclear testing, which was ended in 1992, the only way to get the information we need on our nuclear weapons performance, weapons effects, and the safety of our current aging nuclear weapon stockpile is by doing ICF test experiments.  The LLE is the most cost-effective facility in the science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program – performing 80 percent of all the target shots used in the national Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) and High Energy Density Physics programs with only 13 percent of NNSA’s ICF budget.  In fact, Lawrence Livermore lab conducts more of these experiments using the Rochester lab than their own facility. 

The LLE’s ICF work helps avoid technological surprise by other nuclear weapons states like China and Russia, maintains US leadership in this field of science, and attracts future scientists and engineers to national security by focusing on new energy discovery work. As the NNSA’s largest university-based program, it is the only major facility that trains graduate students from both the University of Rochester and other leading institutions such as MIT, University of Michigan, Princeton and the University of California, and serves as a pipeline to educate and train future talent that is critically important to our national and economic security.  More than 360 scientists, engineers and technicians are currently involved at OMEGA, and LLE’s National Laser User’s Facility brings more than 400 scientists from around the world every year to carry out fundamental research, training and education. 

I appreciate your consideration and hope you can soon see first-hand the importance of supporting and continuing the vital work performed at the LLE. 

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

U.S. Senator 

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