University of Rochester

Congress increases funding for University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics

October 7, 2009

New York's Delegation Provides a $4.5 Million Increase for Fusion Energy Research

Thanks to the efforts of members of New York's Congressional delegation, led by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and U.S. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, Congress has increased the funding for the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) for fiscal year 2010, reaffirming the federal government's strong support of the facility's cutting-edge research into the nation's energy future. This funding, a $4.5 million increase over President Barak Obama's FY 2010 Budget, brings the total appropriation to approximately $60 million.

The LLE is home to two of the world's most powerful lasers: the OMEGA laser, which is capable of putting out more power than the entire nation's energy grid for short fractions of a second, and the recently completed OMEGA EP (extended performance) laser, which is 50 times more powerful than the OMEGA. Together, the lasers serve as the principal laser research facility for three national laboratories (Los Alamos, Sandia, and Livermore) for U.S. Department of Energy experiments.

That technology attracts researchers from around the world and helps scientists in their quest to make controlled nuclear fusion an affordable, plentiful, and efficient source of energy.

"Thanks to the outstanding leadership and persistent efforts of Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Slaughter, we were able to secure the funding needed to support this national resource," said University of Rochester President Joel Seligman. "Their efforts, along with Senator Gillibrand, Representative Chris Lee and the other members of our area Congressional delegation, including Representative Dan Maffei and Representative Eric Massa, were instrumental in ensuring that LLE remains a vital component of the national strategic work on an independent energy future and a crucial part of the high-tech economy of Upstate New York."

The House of Representatives passed the $33.5 billion FY 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill last week by a vote of 308-114 and the Senate is expected to pass it this week.

"This laboratory is unique among facilities at U.S. universities, it is vital to the nation's scientific and technological competitiveness, and it is a great asset to the economy of our region," said University of Rochester Provost Ralph Kuncl. "The additional funding will ensure that the laboratory continues to make important scientific and economic contributions to the nation and to Rochester. We are grateful to the delegation for their work and their success in attaining this support."

Established in 1970, the laboratory is both a resource for international researchers and for the local economy and University students. Since its inception, LLE has attracted more than $1 billion to the state and more than 500 individuals are currently involved in the program. It is the only inertial confinement fusion program jointly supported by the federal and state governments, industry, utilities, and a university.

"This support will help preserve and leverage both of the great resources of this laboratory," said Director Robert L. McCrory. "The physical resources of the laboratory are vital, but so are the human resources, and this funding will allow us to continue to combine those assets in pursuit of greater energy independence, including our critical role in the National Ignition Campaign that will lead to a demonstration of controlled thermonuclear ignition on the National Ignition Facility, and enhanced national security."

In 2007, the Department of Energy and the University signed a five-year, $351 million Cooperative Agreement renewing their support of LLE's research into the development of controlled, thermonuclear fusion energy sources and high energy density physics.

Support from elected officials:

Senator Charles Schumer:
"The future of the University of Rochester's laser lab is bright. This funding will keep the LLE at the forefront of science and technology and prevent job loss, while investing in our laser technology and science education. I would like to thank my colleagues for acknowledging the important work being done in Rochester and agreeing to our request for more funding."

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:
"It is critical we fully fund the cutting edge research at our world class Laser Lab at the University of Rochester. The University of Rochester is at the forefront of science research and education. These federal dollars would develop the technologies we need to power New York for the new energy economy, and help create new jobs for New York."

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter:
"The Laser Lab at the University of Rochester is a tremendous asset to our city and region and I'm so pleased to have helped secure $4.5 million more than the original allotment in President Obama's budget. As one of the nation's leading research facilities for nuclear fusion, the funding they will receive from the federal government will keep them at the forefront of scientific research and development."

Congressman Chris Lee:
"Ensuring the University of Rochester is on the forefront of developing cutting-edge technologies will not only create good paying jobs in our community, but bolster economic growth across our region. I am pleased to support this critical world-class research being done right here in our backyard."

Congressman Dan Maffei:
"I was pleased to help the University of Rochester and secure funding for this extraordinary project. University of Rochester is critical to our local economy and LLE is more than worthy of all the support of our Congressional delegation."

Congressman Eric Massa:
"Investing in cutting-edge research is important as we work to improve our local economy and I am proud to help deliver these funds to the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics. The University of Rochester is one of the most advanced research centers in our Nation and we must continue to support their scientific endeavors. I look forward to continuing my efforts with our area's Congressional delegation as we work to improve our local economy."