Support Funding for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) at Michigan State University

Apr 19, 2013 Issues: Energy

Dear Chairman Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Kaptur,

As the subcommittee prepares its Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) Energy and Water appropriations legislation, we respectfully request that you provide strong support for the Nuclear Physics program in the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science and within the Nuclear Physics program, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) consistent with the January 2013 recommendation of the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC).

As you know, DOE’s Nuclear Physics program is critically important to many national priorities such as the U.S. national and homeland security posture; countering nuclear nonproliferation; and developing advanced diagnostic and treatment technologies to fight cancer and other diseases.  For the critical area of maintaining the safety of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, a recent March 2013 report from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) states that the Office of Science nuclear physics facilities are able to provide capabilities that “allow NNSA to address important questions for the stewardship mission without constructing new, dedicated systems.”                                                                       

The Nuclear Physics program also supports cutting-edge initiatives in the United States that will pave the way for future breakthroughs and train the research leaders of tomorrow.  These breakthroughs serve as incubators of innovation and often serve and the foundation for regional economic engines by providing both well-educated employees and creating new businesses sectors and opportunities. 

FRIB is a prime example of such cutting-edge initiatives.  DOE and Michigan State University started work on FRIB together in 2008.  The plans and schedules have successfully been through numerous rigorous reviews and are on target.  According to the January 2013 NSAC recommendation report, once completed FRIB will be “the world’s most powerful radioactive beam facility.”  FRIB will provide “unprecedented opportunities to study the origin and stability of nuclear matter.”  Its research will significantly impact our understanding of the origins of stars and will help rapidly advance development of new national defense and nuclear medicine technologies.  

FRIB also is a textbook case of how to design scientific user facilities in a fiscally constrained environment.  The facility that DOE originally proposed in 2001 -- the Rare Isotope Accelerator (RIA) -- was estimated to cost $1.1 billion.  When it became clear that RIA was too expensive to build, the U.S. nuclear physics community quickly mobilized together to develop an alternate design -- FRIB -- that preserved most of RIA’s scientific reach at roughly half the cost.

DOE has already made significant investments into FRIB.  Strong funding will ensure that FRIB’s progress continues to be timely and within budget.  It also will help ensure U.S. leadership in this important area of science.  Already, facilities overseas are taking significant steps to eclipse the United States in this field.  The United States cannot afford to have that happen.

We thank you in advance for consideration of our support.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need any additional information or have any questions. 


The Honorable John Dingell
The Honorable Dave Camp
The Honorable John Conyers
The Honorable Dan Kildee
The Honorable Sandy Levin
The Honorable Gary Peters
The Honorable Dan Benishek
The Honorable Candice Miller

View a full version of the letter including signatures.