National Labs Given $1.5B Funding Boost

The Biden-Harris Administration announced this week a $1.5 billion bump in funding for the country's national laboratories, including close to $500 million for Oak Ridge near Knoxville, Tennessee, and $150 million for the Idaho National Laboratory that was announced in October.

The funding, channeled through the Department of Energy, is to go for a long list of upgrades, overdue maintenance projects and infrastructure improvements.

Oak Ridge"Through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) .... from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the funding was allocated to build and upgrade America’s national laboratories. The resources will upgrade scientific facilities, modernize infrastructure, and address deferred maintenance projects at DOE’s Office of Science-managed national laboratories, which are regional hubs for innovation, including clean energy technology that supports good-paying jobs and lower energy costs for families." the DOE said.

Both labs are critical to the nation's nuclear power industry, given the scale of projects that would be extremely difficult to fund simply through the private sector.  

“America’s commitment to science and ingenuity shaped us into the world leaders we are today, and the continued success of our national laboratories will ensure we’re at the global forefront of innovation for generations to come,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, these world-class institutions will receive $1.5 billion—one of the largest ever investments in national laboratory infrastructure—to develop advanced energy technologies and groundbreaking tools like Argonne National Laboratory’s powerful new supercomputer, Aurora, that we need to advance new frontiers, like modeling climate change and developing vaccines.” 

Secretary Granholm met with White House Senior Advisor for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation John Podesta, Office of Science and Technology Policy Deputy Director for Energy and Chief Strategist for the Energy Transition Sally Benson, and other senior White House and DOE officials. The meeting, in part ceremonial, "underscores DOE’s swift action to allocate funds for science and research infrastructure" the DOE said.

DOE’s Office of Science is the nation’s largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences and the lead federal entity supporting fundamental research for clean energy. The Office of Science oversees the majority of DOE’s national laboratories, as well as various programs and facilities, which help achieve its mission of delivering major scientific discoveries, capabilities, and tools to transform the understanding of nature and to advance America’s energy, economic, and national security. However, decades of underfunding across DOE’s network of national laboratories have put the Office’s mission at risk and threatened America’s scientific and technological competitive edge over adversarial nations like China and Russia.   

In direct, energy-related projects, the funding will support: 

  • Advanced scientific computing research facilities  
  • Basic energy sciences projects  
  • High energy physics construction and major items of equipment projects  
  • Fusion energy science construction and major items of equipment projects  
  • Nuclear physics construction and major items of equipment projects   
  • Isotope research and development facilities
  • Science laboratory infrastructure projects  

"The Inflation Reduction Act will position America to lead the world in the industries of the future and strengthen America’s ability to confront our biggest challenges, from climate change to quantum computing and everything in between," said the DOE statement.

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