Congressman Tim Bishop opposes steep cuts in a federal spending plan passed by the House of Representatives last Saturday that he said could force Brookhaven National Laboratory to cut a third of its work force.
he plan strips $1.1 billion from the federal Department of Energy’s Office of Science and about $890 million from its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The cuts could force BNL to lay off 950 full-time employees and shut down the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) and the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), according Mr. Bishop (D-Southampton).
Physicists use the RHIC facility to study what the universe may have looked like moments after its creation. And the NSLS is one of the world’s most heavily used scientific facilities, drawing 2,100 researchers from across the country, according to Mr. Bishop.
“I believe that we are facing a crisis in respect to two things,” Mr. Bishop said at a press conference in Ridge Monday that included scientists and elected officials. One is “the future of Brookhaven National Lab, or certainly its vitality, and, secondly, what ought to be a commitment to the advancement of science and research,” he said.
Tony Lanzirotti, a research scientist for the University of Chicago, lives in Wading River and conducts research at Brookhaven Lab’s NSLS. At the press conference, he said the spending cuts will be felt far and wide.
“It’s not just the 1,000 BNL employees that are impacted,” he said. “You can essentially double that in terms of all the other scientists that are brought here from universities [and] other industry groups. Essentially, our research stops.”
Mr. Bishop said the spending cuts send “a terribly depressing message about the commitment that this nation has to remaining on the cutting edge in terms of scientific research.”
Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko said at the press conference the cuts will hurt the economy and unemployment rates in Brookhaven Town.
“The lab has taken a leadership role when it comes to … building an innovation-based economy, commercializing the research that’s taken place at this lab,” Mr. Lesko said. “I think that research is our future.”