WSU Tri-Cities, PNNL benefit in federal spending bill

January 15, 2014 

Cantwell Biofuel

September 14, 2013 - Birgitte Ahring, right, head of the Center for Bioproducts and Bioenergy at Washington State University Tri-Cities, talks Friday to Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., center, and David Suomi, with the Federal Aviation Administration, about the production and use of biofuels. Cantwell was at the facility to announce that WSU was chosen to be the headquarters of the new FAA Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment.

RICHARD DICKIN — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

— A proposed federal spending bill for the current fiscal year includes $5 million to establish a center of excellence for alternative jet fuel research at Washington State University.

WSU Tri-Cities is expected to play a lead role in the development of biofuels for the nation’s aviation industry, after WSU and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were named in mid-September to lead a new Center for Excellence in Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment.

The bill also includes spending for national programs that help pay for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, according to the staff of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology: Research, Development and Innovation program would receive $462 million.

In addition, $5.07 billion in spending is proposed for DOE’s Office of Science, which includes $610 million for Biological and Environmental Research, or BER. BER provides money for the operation of national labs, including PNNL, and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory on the PNNL Campus.

Murray’s office released a list of more than 40 specific items that it said would clearly benefit Washington. Her office said the bill included “dozens of wins,” including Hanford spending of $2.2 billion.

Other proposed spending includes:

-- $3 billion to build 16 Navy P-8A Poseidons, a submarine-hunting aircraft to be based at the naval station on Whidbey Island. The station would also get $85 million to build and expand its facilities.

-- $1.6 billion to build the next-generation of the KC-46A refueling tanker.

-- $153 million to pay for construction projects at Joint Base Lewis McChord. Murray said the money is aimed at paying for improvements to the airfield, maintenance hangar and the aviation battalion complex, part of a plan to help keep the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade based in the state.

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