President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget proposal would substantially cut funding for the Department of Energy, which Senator Charles Schumer says will “decimate” Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Upton Department of Energy campus that employs nearly 3,000 scientists, many of whom live on the East End.
Standing in the laboratory’s National Synchrotron Light Source II research center Friday afternoon, Mr. Schumer said the White House budget’s proposed 20 percent cut to the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which funds BNL, “is a cut to our future, a cut to our knowledge, a cut to our research and a cut to good-paying Long Island jobs.”
“Brookhaven National Lab is home to some of the world’s brightest minds and most cutting-edge innovations, which both advance human knowledge and spur our economy,” he added. “I have always been a fierce advocate for BNL — and technology and research in general – because that is essential to keeping Long Island and America number one. These kinds of cuts not only hurt us today but they hurt the future jobs and the companies of tomorrow who would otherwise plant their roots on Long Island.”
In recent years, BNL has received an annual $537.347 million in federal funds from the DOE’s Office of Science budget, along with $5.16 million in federal funds from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and $3.138 million from the Nuclear Energy Office.
The president’s budget summary does not included a dollar amount for cuts to the latter two offices, but does say it “focuses funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Office of Nuclear Energy…. on limited, early-stage applied energy research and development activities where the federal role is stronger.”
Mr. Schumer said that Brookhaven National Laboratory relies on federal funding each year — especially for its National Synchrotron Light Source-II and Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) — and these cuts could put the lab’s research and jobs at risk.
Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., who serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Brookhaven Science Associates, which runs Brookhaven National Laboratory, also said he was concerned about the funding cuts.
“Federal research funding is critical to the very fabric of our country. It enables innovation from institutions like Stony Brook, whose mission includes the pursuit of new medical, physical and engineering technologies that address the issues of our time, and positively impact current and future generations,” said Dr. Stanley. “It also helps our mission to educate students to become the next generation of innovators, giving them the experiential learning opportunities that will enable them to make a real difference.”
Overall, BNL has 2,989 full time employees, 399 students and 1,348 visiting scientists, and also operates and maintains scientific facilities where approximately 2,500 university, industry, and government-sponsored scientists from around the world conduct research.
The Basic Energy Science program within the DOE Office of Science supports BNL’s National Synchrotron Light Source-II, a next-generation X-ray light source scientific user facility that develops breakthroughs in fields like energy security, environment, and human health.
The lab’s Relativistic Ion Collider is a scientific user facility that allows over 1,000 scientists and 200 students from around the world to study what the universe may have looked like in the first few moments after its creation. RHIC has fueled work with industry, the Department of Defense, and other DOE programs on next-generation hadron radiotherapy facilities for cancer treatment, superconducting magnet energy storage systems, high-current energy recovery linacs for potential defense applications, and advanced medical imaging techniques and detectors.
East End Congressman Lee Zeldin, a staunch supporter of the president, also weighed in on Friday.
“There are many positive proposals under President Trump’s budget request, including a proposed increase in funding for national security and defense, counterterrorism efforts, veterans care at VA facilities, mental health care support and services, and infrastructure improvements,” he said. “However, I strongly oppose the proposed cuts to Brookhaven National Lab, SUNY Stony Brook and other sources of scientific research in the First Congressional District. Throughout the years, we have seen some of the world’s greatest science research conducted at these facilities.”
“Regardless of who is in the White House, the Constitution puts government funding strictly under Congress to initiate through the appropriations process,” said Mr. Zeldin. “The President’s budget request is just that: a request. It has no force of law or legislation.”