Barrasso: DOE Should Make Improvements in its Research & Development Programs

August 5, 2021

Click here to watch Ranking Member Barrasso’s remarks.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered the following remarks at a full committee hearing to examine the role of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the programs within it. 

The hearing featured testimony from Dr. J. Stephen Binkley, acting director and principal deputy director of the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy; Dr. Thomas Zacharia, director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Dr. Edward Seidel, president of the University of Wyoming. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“The Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the nation’s largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences. 

“The Office of Science is uncovering the secrets of the universe and is revolutionizing the fields of quantum computing and artificial intelligence. 

“It also leads our nation’s efforts to develop fusion energy. 

“In addition, the Office of Science makes significant contributions to numerous fields, including materials science, chemical science, and isotopes. 

“Isotopes are essential in medical diagnosis and treatment and a variety of industrial processes. 

“The Office of Science produces these critical isotopes when they are unavailable in the commercial market. 

“Finally, the Office of Science oversees 10 of the department’s 17 national labs.

“These labs employ over 26,000 highly capable individuals. 

“A primary function of the Office of Science is to support user facilities located at our national labs. 

“These 28 user facilities support cutting edge research across the scientific spectrum. 

“These include particle accelerators and light sources, which act as powerful microscopes, allowing us to observe the fundamental constituents of matter. 

“Two of the world’s three fastest supercomputers are located at national labs. 

“Using these computers, the department played a significant role in helping us understand the threat COVID-19. 

“The Department of Energy can make improvements in its research and development programs. 

“It can certainly do more to maintain and enhance its world-leading scientific infrastructure. 

“I would like to see more investment in building research capacity at universities in rural states, including Wyoming. 

“In 1979, Congress created the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR. 

“Congress established this to address concerns about the distribution of federal research and development grants. 

“Historically, a small number of institutions disproportionately have received the majority of federal research funding and those are not institutions represented by the people sitting here on this panel today. 

“Thanks to programs like EPSCoR, this is improving. 

“But we still have a long way to go before we fully benefit from the capabilities and expertise found across all of our nation’s universities. 

“President Biden’s budget requests for $3 billion for research at the Office of Science but it only included $25 million for EPSCoR. 

“This is less than 1 percent of the Office of Science’s entire research budget. 

“I would also note that the president requested a $414 million increase for the entire Office of Science but failed to request any additional funds for EPSCoR.

“We must do better to improve access to federal research dollars and this committee is the place to make that happen. 

“With 15 of the 20 EPSCoR states represented on this very committee, I think this is something we can all agree on. 

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I look forward to the hearing today.”