A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Trump would close Albany lab

Written May 24th, 2017 by Hasso Hering

The main building of the National Energy Technology Laboratory on Queen Avenue this morning.

It was not unexpected, but the news is still a blow to Albany: The Trump Administration plans to close the Albany branch of the National Energy Technology Laboratory and transfer its work and equipment to Pittsburg, PA, or Morgantown, WV.

The administration’s budget proposals for 2018 came out Tuesday. Word of what it meant for the Albany Research Center of NETL spread this morning. The wife of an employee there told me about it. A couple of hours later Omer Dogan, vice president of Local 1104 of the American Federation of Government Employees, emailed a press release.

Closure of the Albany lab would cost the mid-valley about 150 jobs, many of them highly specialized in materials science and related fields. The loss to the local economy would be about $30 million a year, according to the union.

It’s ironic that the president’s program to redirect federal research programs would hit the economy of a county where Trump enjoyed strong support in the 2016 election.

The president’s budget was immediately criticized by Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio, but he didn’t mention the Albany lab in his critique even though it’s in his district.

The last time the government tried to close the research center, then still a part of the Bureau of Mines, was in the 1980s during the Reagan administration. But efforts by Republican Congressman Denny Smith got the administration to keep it open and assign it to the Department of Energy after the Bureau of Mines was abolished.

The Albany lab’s scientists and technicians have been researching ways to improve technology related to fossil fuels. For example, currently the lab is advertising for a PhD-level researcher to work with a team on improving materials that would reduce methane emissions from natural-gas pipelines. It also is looking for someone to work in research on assessing the risks on things like gas shale, oil and natural gas development.

Another research project deals with reactor systems for the gasification of coal. And there’s work, either going on or planned, on finding better materials for use in “magnetohydrodynamic” power generators. These are machines that shoot the hot exhaust from burning fuel through a magnetic field to generate electricity.

On its website, NETL says the Albany Research Center “investigates new materials to solve the energy system challenges of today and tomorrow.”

About a couple of months ago, someone at the center reached out to Albany City Manager Wes Hare, saying that the government was thinking of closing the center and asking for support, and Hare informed the city council. Whether a council appeal to the Trump administration would have any effect, nobody knows. (hh)

Since some time after 9/11/01, the center has been fenced and access to the campus controlled.





17 responses to “Trump would close Albany lab”

  1. ean says:

    Kind of seems like on a lot of Trump proposals rural residents are getting the short end of the stick… guess you reap what you sow.

  2. Chris Hanson says:

    Isn’t there still some contamination on that property? If there is, we should look for ways to require the Feds to fund remediation costs. It might be less expensive to continue to operate rather than closing. Either way, they should not be able to leave our community without remediation.

    • Tai Stith says:

      I believe all the required remediation was competed in the 80’s. You can find the documents online if you Google “FUSRAP + Albany Oregon.” I have a personal research project that involves the history of the site and I post my findings on Facebook (page is called “Historic Significance of the Albany Research Center.”

  3. Thomas Aaron says:

    60% of Linn County voted for this.

  4. Tim says:

    I would like to see the Dept. of Energy provide a detailed transition plan for the site and buildings if they follow through on the closure. It is a rather large campus for a 150-person workforce. It would be unfortunate to see this eventually become an empty site, overgrown with grass and weeds.

  5. hj.anony1 says:

    tRump voter gets what tRump voter deserves. The Grifter and Chief’s budget also slashes Medicaid and Social Security. All the while, he is asking for $25.7 Million more to protect his NYC skyscraper. On top of $6.3 Million already allocated to his direct benefit.

    Comments from some indicate this budget is DOA. But who really know what will and won’t be in the passed budget.

    It boggles the mind that 36% still approve of this con man. Not only does this minority approve of him, they are all in. SAD!

    • Diane says:

      Medicaid will NOT be slashed as you say…..the future raises just won’t increase at the current rate. Quit reading the fake news!

  6. John Hartman says:

    The chances of Trump avoiding jail time grows slimmer each day. The only thing he will be closing is his cell door.

  7. Michael says:

    150 jobs 30 Million a year sounds like way overpaid that’s like 200,000 a year no wonder there closing.

  8. Leroy says:

    On a positive note, that action will free up some more trees for Sharon Kanopa to cut down,

  9. John Hartman says:

    Relax. Trump is already ineffective, with greater ineffectiveness over the horizon. Pence will be caught up in the maelstrom. Rex Tillerson will assume the throne, or Paul Ryan. It won’t matter. The govt. will run on a series of C/Rs until the next election when the GOP will be spanked.

    • Denise Tafen says:

      That would be terrible for the city of Albany. I personally know people who work there. I hope this does not happen.

  10. Suzanne Bodin says:

    Its awful for any community to lose 150 full-time, well paying, tax generating, local economy stimulating jobs. Trump is cutting projects that he sees as wasteful. He’s doing his job. How about a city council member (regardless of their party or personal opinion of the man), send a letter back reminding him that jobs were lost here and would he consider us for possible projects in the future. You never know, it might work. Let’s try to put those college degrees to work and start coming up with some innovative ideas to bring some jobs to our county


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