Senate bill would add $5 million increase in funding for U of R laser lab

Under the federal budget proposal for 2019, the Laboratory for Laser Energy at the University of Rochester would be closed in the next three years. (WHAM photo - file)

Washington, DC (WHAM) - In a change from its original decision, the federal government will increase its funding for the University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) and its OMEGA Laser Facility.

Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced Monday morning that $80 million has been allocation for the lab and its OMEGA Laser Facility. Back in February, the Department of Energy's budget proposal called for the facility to be closed down in the next three years. Several weeks later, the federal budget plan for 2019 set aside $75 million to fund the lab at the U of R.

The funding announced Monday would be an increase of $12 million over the $68 million allocated to the lab in 2017 and a $5 million increase over the budget.

Approximately 100 students use the lab for research, including nuclear testing.

"Since underground nuclear testing ceased, the only way to get the information needed by the federal government on the performance, weapons effects, and safety of our current nuclear weapon stockpile is by doing ICF (inertial confinement fusion) test experiments," Gillibrand said. "Eighty percent of these ICF test experiments are done at the University of Rochester Laser Lab."

“This $5 million increase... will ensure the laser lab can continue safeguarding our nuclear stockpile, expand its world-class research in new energy discovery, and power up this Rochester-Finger Lakes region economic driver, if passed into law,” said Senator Schumer."

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