Manchin, Murkowski Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Advance Department of Energy AI Research for Science, Security, and Technology

July 10, 2024

Washington, DC — Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (I-WV), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the bipartisan Department of Energy AI Act to advance American leadership in artificial intelligence (AI) by harnessing the existing National Laboratory infrastructure and workforce at the Department of Energy (DOE).

“As AI technology takes the world by storm, the United States needs to meet the moment quickly and effectively before our adversaries do. The DOE and its network of National Laboratories are ready and able to bring our nation to the next level of scientific discovery and global competitiveness through the innovation of safe and responsible AI,” said Chairman Manchin. “This bipartisan legislation will leverage the agency’s existing world-class laboratory test facilities, scientific workforce, and advanced computing resources to strengthen our country’s AI capabilities to remain the superpower of the world in energy, national security, and economic competitiveness. Deploying our existing lab infrastructure and scientific expertise for AI instead of starting from scratch will also safeguard taxpayer dollars and allow for us to move quickly. As Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I am proud to work with my friend, Senator Murkowski, on this crucial legislation and I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this initiative to further unlock the groundbreaking potential of AI.”

“Artificial Intelligence has the potential to help the Department of Energy and our National Labs accomplish enormous challenges in the fields of science and technology and offer capabilities to streamline permitting for large-scale energy and critical mineral projects in Alaska," said Senator Lisa Murkowski. "This legislation will enable the department to harness these emerging technologies so that DOE can be on the front foot to respond to Alaska and America’s science and technological needs.”

The DOE oversees the 17 National Laboratories and 35 user facilities and houses a workforce of over 70,000 scientists, engineers, and researchers with world-leading scientific expertise. Dating back to the Manhattan Project, the DOE’s National Labs have been at the forefront of scientific advances and national security matters and over the past decade, the agency has developed thousands of AI applications, ranging from medical imaging and genomics to electric grid management and nuclear security. As a result, the DOE has the computing resources, expertise, and experience managing large volumes of data, which is required for heading our country’s artificial intelligence strategy.

The Department of Energy AI Act:

  • Authorizes the Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence for Science, Security, and Technology (FASST) initiative at DOE.
  • Establishes a network of AI research clusters built on DOE’s existing ecosystem of computing capabilities and research facilities at National Labs.
  • Builds a research and development program on four main pillars:
  • Establishes an AI risk evaluation and mitigation program to evaluate and mitigate safety and security risks of AI to better inform future decision-making. 
  • Directs the development of a strategic plan with specific short-term and long-term goals to advance applications in AI for science, energy, and national security.
  • Includes STEM education and workforce development in AI through various disciplines.
  • Formally authorizes the Office of Critical and Emerging Technology at the Department of Energy to ensure interagency collaboration.
  • Improves the federal permitting process through the use of AI technologies.
  • Directs FERC to initiate a rulemaking for the use of advanced computing technologies to expedite the interconnection queue process.
  • Directs DOE to study the growth of computing data centers and the electrical power load.

The full text of the legislation is available here.