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Report: Federal Funding Cuts Threaten Argonne Jobs, Research

According to Crain's Chicago Business, proposed cuts would force Argonne National Laboratory to shut down much of its facilities and lay off about 1,000 employees.

Proposed federal spending cuts could force Argonne National Laboratory to lay off about a third of its employees and shut down some of its research facilities, according to a Crain's Chicago Business report.

House Republicans are proposing a 50-percent cut in energy efficiency programs that fund much of the Darien-area lab's $556-million budget, as well as a 20-percent cut in the Energy Department's Office of Science. The cuts would also affect Fermi National Laboratory in Batavia.

According to the report, the cuts would force Argonne to close much of its research facilities and lay off about 1,000 employees, including 700 scientists. Another 2,000 jobs as contractors and subcontractors for the lab could also be lost at companies like Caterpillar, Abbott Laboratories and Boeing.

U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) spoke out against the cuts Friday in a letter to Senate energy and water appropriations subcommittee leaders.

“The House Republican’s Continuing Resolution will cost Illinois 1,450 research scientists and support staff at our nationally recognized research labs” he said.  “The net effect is to put our research efforts on hold for seven months.

"This mindless cut is a clear signal that the House bill is not the product of a thoughtful effort. America must cut spending but it cannot abandon its leadership in research and innovation.”

Here is the full text of Sen. Durbin's letter: 

February 18, 2011
 
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Chairman
Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee
 
Senator Lamar Alexander
Ranking Member
Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee
 
Dear Chairman Feinstein and Sen. Alexander,
 
As a new member of the Energy and Water subcommittee, I look forward to working with you on critical funding for the Department of Energy (DOE), and, specifically, the national laboratories.  The draconian funding cuts proposed by the House Republicans in their continuing resolution (H.R. 1) to the DOE Office of Science, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would be catastrophic to our entire national laboratory system, our country’s incubators for innovation.
 
If H.R. 1 were enacted, it would cut $1.1 billion from the FY11 budget request of $5.121 billion for the Office of Science, $899 million from the $2.355 billion EERE budget, and $250 million from the $300 million ARPA-E budget.  This would cause many of the national labs to completely shut down for three months, if not longer.
 
DOE projects that the House-approved cuts to the Office of Science alone would lead to the loss of 10,000 jobs.  In my home state of Illinois, Argonne National Laboratory would let go a third of its staff (more than 1,000 employees) and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory would let go of a quarter of its staff (450 employees).  Significant cuts to the Labs will be devastating to the local communities surrounding the labs in Batavia and DuPage County.  Suppliers and contractors for the labs, as well as the private companies that use the facilities also would be adversely affected by the closures and layoffs.
 
The House irresponsibly cuts critical research and robs 10,000 American workers of their jobs during a very weak economy.  This is not the path to economic growth.  We need to invest in crucial research that fuels American innovation.  Fiscal responsibility demands thoughtful allocation of our resources that will lead us to a stronger economic standing.  These draconian cuts to the work of our national labs is ill advised and short-sighted.   I look forward to working with you to ensure that our labs continue their world-class research.
 
                               Sincerely,
          
                               Richard J. Durbin
                               United States Senator

This information was courtesy of Sen. Dick Durbin's website, durbin.senate.gov.

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