U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his push, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has finalized a new 5-year $409.9 million Cooperative Agreement with the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE), which is the highest amount of funding ever approved for a five-year period in LLE’s history.
Schumer explained that the LLE plays a critical role in United States’ national security and scientific progress and that the robust Cooperative Agreement will help keep the lab’s groundbreaking work on track. Schumer previously pushed for the Cooperative Agreement to be signed during both an in-person meeting with NNSA Administrator Gordon-Hagerty in June of 2018, during a visit to the LLE that March and in a letter to DOE.
“I’m so glad that NNSA and DOE have heard my concerns and now recognize the need to enlist the Rochester Laser Lab’s cutting edge capabilities through this brand-new, record-high 5-year Cooperative Agreement. This agreement will enable the world-class lab to continue making vital contributions to national security and providing invaluable sources of scientific education and leadership that ultimately support DOE’s mission,” said Senator Schumer.
“I pushed for this new Cooperative Agreement to keep the lab up and running every chance I got because not only does the lab play a paramount role in our national security, but is also vital to our regional economy, employing hundreds of scientists and bringing millions of dollars into the region. The United States of America has always taken pride in our scientific achievements, and with the Laser Lab being responsible for so many of them, I’ll always fight relentlessly to ensure it has the necessary resources to keep innovating on behalf of the American people,” he explains.
During his meeting with NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty in 2018, Schumer urged the agency to approve the new Cooperative Agreement (CA) between the NNSA and LLE. Schumer said the new agreement builds on the University’s long and productive relationship with the U.S. Department of Energy for over 40 years.
A newly-executed supplemental agreement sets forth $279.9M in additional work that would be performed at the LLE and its OMEGA Laser Facility between FY19-FY23 for the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) energy discovery, scientific, and nuclear weapon stockpile security needs.
The prior five-year Cooperative Agreement expired at the end of Fiscal Year 2018. In addition to $130M in preliminary agreements, the supplemental finalizes the $409.9M Cooperative Agreement for FY19-23 and is a record amount approved for a five-year period in LLE’s history.
Schumer said through these multi-year agreements, the LLE and its OMEGA Laser Facility can continue to make vital contributions to national security and provide invaluable sources of scientific education and leadership to support DOE’s mission.
The new Cooperative Agreement will support the cutting-edge research and operation of state-of-the-art facilities at the LLE in support of the DOE’s nuclear Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP). More specifically, it will support critical decisions related to the maintenance and modernization of weapons systems, and help achieve scientific milestones set in NNSA’s ten-year strategic plan for the overall Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) and High Energy Density Physics (HEDP) programs.
It will also support growing demand for facility operations and experiments on OMEGA for non-ignition work directly in support of stockpile stewardship, advancing all three of the most viable approaches to fusion and supporting the research programs of the three NNSA labs.
Established in 1970, the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) of the University of Rochester is a unique national resource for research and education in science and technology and a major asset of the University not found at any other university in the country. Both the Rochester area and the University have a history of innovation that provides a singular environment for LLE within a technologically sophisticated scientific community.
LLE is the largest U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) university-based research program in the entire nation and is home to the OMEGA lasers (Omega and Omega EP) – the largest and most capable at any academic institution in the world. Working in partnership with three national security Department of Energy laboratories (Los Alamos, Sandia, and Livermore), the LLE is recognized nationally and internationally for its ICF (Inertial Confinement Fusion ) and high energy density science research as part of the nuclear Stockpile Security Program (SSP).
Schumer said since the banning of underground nuclear testing, the only way to get the information needed for performance, weapons effects, and the safety of our current aging nuclear weapon stockpile is by doing ICF test experiments.
Eighty percent of these ICF test experiments are done at the University of Rochester Laser Lab. LLE conducts implosion and basic physics experiments in support of the national Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program, validates advanced concepts for ICF to be used on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in order to demonstrate ignition and energy gain, serves as the principal laser research facility for three national laboratories, and is the only ICF facility with education as a primary mission. It is a vital component of the nation’s scientific capital and leadership, and key to strategic work on an independent energy future.
As one of the premier institutions training the next generation of leaders in the fields of physics, optics, and material science, LLE is an economic development magnet that provides high-tech jobs and attracts scientific talent to the Rochester community. Many Rochester companies, including Sydor Technologies, QED Technologies, and Lucid, were created as a result of the Lab and now employ hundreds of people. LLE’s work has also generated almost $16 million in business with more than 50 local companies across New York State since 2015.
Since its inception, the LLE has attracted more than $2.3 billion to New York State to support cutting-edge research. Through the LLE’s mission, the University also attracts as many as 400 additional visiting scientists each year to Rochester from national laboratories, universities, and companies, and currently hosts over 145 students (graduate, undergraduate, and high school).
Schumer has long fought for Rochester’s Laser Lab. In past years Schumer has helped secure millions of dollars for the lab and pledged to continue to work for funds to strengthen this first-class institution. He helped secure $68 million in funding in the Fiscal Year 2016 spending bill for the LLE and advocated for federal investment in Fiscal Year 2017.
Furthermore, in the 2018 bipartisan Omnibus spending bill, Schumer secured $75 million in funding for the LLE for Fiscal Year 2018, and in the Fiscal Year 2019 Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, another $80 million in funding for the LLE. Schumer stated that he will continue his efforts to help grow the laser lab, which is a key driver of Rochester’s optics and photonics industry and in maintaining the nation’s nuclear weapon stockpile while developing new clean energy sources.