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Dick Durbin Critical of Proposed Funding Cuts Affecting Fermilab, Argonne

The state senator says he will push to continue research funding for Illinois.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Friday spoke out against proposed funding cuts that could cost this area thousands of jobs and opportunities to conduct important research.

Durbin shared his concerns in a letter to leaders of a Senate subcommittee responsible for energy and water funding allocations. 

If enacted, the cuts would total about $2.25 billion across three different budgets. These funds directly impact the in Batavia and Argonne National Laboratory in southern DuPage County near Burr Ridge.

Without the funding, Argonne would have to drop a third of its staff (more than 1,000 employees) and Fermilab would be out more than 400 employees, in addition to furloughs and suspended projects. To read more about the possible Fermilab cuts, click .

"Significant cuts to the Labs will be devastating to the local communities surrounding the labs in Batavia and DuPage County. Suppliers and contractors for the labs, as well as the private companies that use the facilities also would be adversely affected by the closures and layoffs," Durbin said in the letter.

Durbin also vowed to work with the Senate committee to find a way for the labs to continue their research.

Here is the full text of Sen. Durbin's letter: 

February 18, 2011
 
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Chairman
Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee
 
Senator Lamar Alexander
Ranking Member
Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee
 
Dear Chairman Feinstein and Sen. Alexander,
 
As a new member of the Energy and Water subcommittee, I look forward to working with you on critical funding for the Department of Energy (DOE), and, specifically, the national laboratories.  The draconian funding cuts proposed by the House Republicans in their continuing resolution (H.R. 1) to the DOE Office of Science, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would be catastrophic to our entire national laboratory system, our country’s incubators for innovation.
 
If H.R. 1 were enacted, it would cut $1.1 billion from the FY11 budget request of $5.121 billion for the Office of Science, $899 million from the $2.355 billion EERE budget, and $250 million from the $300 million ARPA-E budget.  This would cause many of the national labs to completely shut down for three months, if not longer.
 
DOE projects that the House-approved cuts to the Office of Science alone would lead to the loss of 10,000 jobs.  In my home state of Illinois, Argonne National Laboratory would let go a third of its staff (more than 1,000 employees) and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory would let go of a quarter of its staff (450 employees).  Significant cuts to the Labs will be devastating to the local communities surrounding the labs in Batavia and DuPage County.  Suppliers and contractors for the labs, as well as the private companies that use the facilities also would be adversely affected by the closures and layoffs.
 
The House irresponsibly cuts critical research and robs 10,000 American workers of their jobs during a very weak economy.  This is not the path to economic growth.  We need to invest in crucial research that fuels American innovation.  Fiscal responsibility demands thoughtful allocation of our resources that will lead us to a stronger economic standing.  These draconian cuts to the work of our national labs is ill advised and short-sighted.   I look forward to working with you to ensure that our labs continue their world-class research.
 
                               Sincerely,
          
                               Richard J. Durbin
                               United States Senator

This information was courtesy of Sen. Dick Durbin's website, durbin.senate.gov.

kurt hahn February 22, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Oh, and in addition to what I said above, given our current fiscal crisis, will discovering the Higgs Boson, or developing a better understanding of Dark Matter and Dark Energy enrich our lives? Couldn't these pursuits be deferred temporarily for a generation or two? After all, the scientists at Fermi Lab, and other fine institutions, tell us that the universe is 13.7 billion years old. We have been able to live good lives without knowing the secrets of the Higgs, Dark Matter and Dark Energy for that long, so what would be the harm of not knowing be for a while longer - a period of time, in the grand scale of the universe, that is less than a fraction of the time it takes to blink your eye.?
Rudy February 22, 2011 at 06:34 PM
Bravo! Mr. hahn you state it so eloquently!
Dr. Barb February 22, 2011 at 08:28 PM
Our livelihood, health and comfort are all improved by science. Even if you are unable to fully appreciate pure science, consider today's applications of that science. Research and technology from Fermilab alone has contributed to MRI technology, PET scans and cancer therapy. Science isn't an esoteric hobby -- it benefits us all. From Fermilab's Website: "Today it is estimated that there are over 7,000 operating medical linacs around the world that have treated over 30,000,000 patients. Fermilab physicists and engineers built the nation's first proton accelerator for cancer therapy and shipped it to the Loma Linda University Medical Center, where it has treated some 7,000 patients. Relative to x-rays, proton therapy offers important therapeutic benefits, especially for pediatric patients. The Neutron Therapy Facility at Fermilab has the highest energy and the deepest penetration of any fast neutron beam in the United States. Neutrons are effective against large tumors. More than 3,500 patients have received treatment at the Neutron Therapy Facility." "The technology of PET scans, came directly from detectors initially designed for particle physics experiments sensing individual photons of light. Silicon tracking detectors, composed of minute sensing elements sensitive to the passage of single particles, are now used in neuroscience experiments to investigate the workings of the retina for development of retinal prosthetics for artificial vision."
Rudy February 23, 2011 at 12:23 AM
The problem with most medical research is there is too much emphasis on treatment and not enough on prevention and cure. Maybe its because cure doesn't pay as well as treatment and can last for years. Like everyone I am not knocking whats been done but, reality is people are struggling to survive so Fermi needs to tighten its belts too. They could take a pay cut days off early retirement. I had a physicist friend that worked there and when his grant was taken away he worked at Taco Bell. So the argument that they will go down the road is weak. Where are they going? This is a tough economy less money is better than no money is all I am saying.
D. Niel February 23, 2011 at 04:59 AM
J Thompson and Dr. Barb, thanks for raising the level of the conversation here. It is so disappointing to see the lack of vision in fellow citizens. Our country has a great history of reaching for the unknown, through the many research opportunities, we have seen great advances in technology that are the result of government funds that have allowed for the research to happen. We should all want to stay on the cutting edge of knowledge and research it is the path to the future. Our universities and research facilities have consistently trained the best and brightest. Students from all over the world vie for spots in U.S. research institutions and universities for the opportunity to be educated here. Do not throw out the golden egg.

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