Bishop, Schumer: Budget agreement will save jobs at BNL

04/12/2011 4:35 PM |

The nearly 1,000 job cuts projected for Brookhaven National Laboratory will be saved under the terms of a budget agreement reached in Congress last week, according to local officials.

A bill that passed through the House of Representatives last month would have cut $1.1 billion from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, a move federal officials warned would result in the loss of 930 jobs at BNL. But a compromise made in Congress last week restored all but $35 million back into that part of the budget, according to numbers released Tuesday by the offices of Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York).

“This was a fight about Long Island’s future and that future is brighter because we have preserved 1,000 local jobs and cutting edge research,” Mr. Bishop said in a statement.  “Saving BNL from the budget axe not only preserves 1,000 Long Island jobs, it helps ensure that America will continue to drive innovation and reap the economic benefits of advanced research.”

The estimated loss of jobs came from an impact analysis conducted by the lab at Mr. Bishop and Mr. Schumer’s request, following news of an estimated 30 percent cut to funding of federal science facilities proposed by House Republicans.

The analysis revealed the cuts could have forced the lab to, at least temporarily, close its two largest research facilities.  It also would have cut some funding to programs conducting research into alternative energy and life sciences, according to Mr. Schumer’s office.

“This is a huge victory for Long Island that preserves the job-creating, cutting-edge scientific work being done at Brookhaven National Lab,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. “We can and should cut costs, but not at the expense of cutting jobs on Long Island or limiting our nation’s ability to out-innovate our competitors.”

Local and federal officials offered support for the lab soon after the possible cuts were announced. Mr. Bishop and Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko held a rally near the lab last month and Mr. Bishop said he also helped supporters of the lab create a website that brought attention to possible cuts.

Mr. Bishop said he announced his support for the compromise, which will still feature a record $38 billion reduction in federal spending, only after verifying the restored funding to the Office of Science.

Lab officials said Tuesday that while they are still awaiting official word from Washington, they are pleased by the early reports.

“While we won’t know the final outcome until the budget is approved by Congress, signed by the President, and apportioned by the Department of Energy, we deeply appreciate Senator Schumer’s, Senator Gillibrand’s, and Congressman Bishop’s support for science and their willingness to protect the Lab and its programs,” said Doon Gibbs, Deputy Director for Science & Technology at BNL.

gparpan@northshoresun.com