The budget plan President Obama delivered to Congress today contains $22 million for Michigan State University's Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. MSU officials originally expected $55 million.
The future of the nuclear research facility has been in some doubt since January. The U.S. Secretary of Energy declined to promise federal funding for the project during a stop at the North American International Auto Show. He said budget constraints had to be considered.
The FRIB project has a price tag of a half billion dollars. Officials hope it can eventually become the focus of research and related economic development.
MSU President Lou Ann K. Simon was disappointed with today's news. She says in a written statement:
"We recognize the difficult conditions facing the current budget and we appreciate the efforts being made by the Administration to invest in the future through its overall support for basic research.
Given the fact the Office of Science received a 2 percent increase over last year, we are very concerned that the nuclear physics program was cut 3.8 percent and the level of funding included in Department of Energy budget for FRIB was only $22 million, significantly below the agreed-upon budget of $55 million. While we need to review the detailed budget to determine the precise impact this funding level will have on the project, it will inevitably prolong the timeline and increase costs. We will continue to prepare for the April readiness review which remains an important part of the process. We will work with members of our congressional delegation who have been such staunch supporters of FRIB to keep this important project on track."
U.S. Senator Carl Levin Issued the following written statement on the FRIB budget decision:
“I am disappointed that the Department of Energy’s budget proposal does not fully live up to the federal commitment to FRIB, MSU and the state of Michigan. I will continue to work to keep FRIB on track and on the timetable that all parties have agreed to and that is vital to America’s continued preeminence in nuclear science.”