Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
– Today, Georgia and South Carolina lawmakers praised the Department of Energy (DOE) for agreeing to provide $4.3 million for the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory in Aiken, SC in fiscal year 2006. The announcement is part of a joint year-long effort to secure funding for the laboratory.
Senators Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Johnny Isaskon, R-Ga., Lindsey Graham, R-SC and Jim DeMint, R-SC, along with Reps. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., and Gresham Barrett, R-SC, launched the effort earlier this year upon learning the White House budget did not include funds for the laboratory. The lawmakers credit U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman for listening to their concerns and working with the Georgia and South Carolina delegation to invest funding in the laboratory’s critical work.
“In numerous meetings, phone calls and letters we jointly impressed upon Secretary Bodman the importance of this project to our nation,” said Chambliss. “The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory has been operated by the University of Georgia for over 54 years and has been widely recognized for its research, education and pubic outreach programs. I am thankful Secretary Bodman and his staff worked with us to address the laboratory’s important funding needs.”
“I am very pleased Secretary Bodman has been so willing to work with us over the past several months to ensure that the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and the University of Georgia can continue their critical research at Savannah River Site. Our Georgia and South Carolina delegations made a very strong case as to why SREL deserves to continue to receive funding from the Department of Energy and we appreciate Secretary Bodman’s willingness to take this action,” Isakson said.
“The SREL has helped track the effects on the environment from our Cold War missions,” said Graham. “The data they collect provides a public health service and the funding level we achieved in the Senate is an important step toward the lab’s continued operation. I’m pleased we were able to work with our friends from Georgia to secure funding this year.”
“I’m glad the Department of Energy worked with us to find a thoughtful solution to address the needs of the lab,” said Senator DeMint. “The Savannah River Ecology Lab’s independent analysis is crucial to understanding the environmental impact of work done at the Savannah River site. This decision will sustain the lab and its important work.”
"This is good news," Congressman Kingston said. "Keeping funding flowing for the ecological research being done at the lab is very important. I know Dr. Bertsch is pleased and I am glad Secretary Bodman and the Energy Department worked with us to keep this going."
"We have worked hard to impress upon the Department of Energy the importance of SREL's mission to the nation. While I am disappointed that full funding was not restored through the contract year, I am pleased that Secretary Bodman worked with us to provide enough funding for SREL to remain operational," said Barrett. "We remain committed to working together for the future of the lab."
"While it remains a disappointment that we were unable to convince DOE to restore full funding, we have still come away with a clear victory for maintaining SREL until new, permanent funding sources can be found," says Norwood. "The work done by SREL is too vital for the nation's environmental research efforts to ever let this facility go dark."
Situated on the grounds of Savannah River Site (SRS), the SREL provides an independent evaluation of the ecological effects of DOE's SRS operations through a program of ecological research, education, and outreach which involves basic and applied environmental research, with emphasis upon expanding the understanding of ecological processes and principles, and upon evaluating the impacts of industrial and land use activities on the environment.