With Homestake Mine decision, South Dakota’s future never brighter

With Homestake Mine decision, South Dakota's future never brighter
The recent decision by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to locate a Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) at the former Homestake Mine is a watershed moment for South Dakota. It marks a truly momentous occasion for the Lead community and the entire state. And importantly, it is yet another example of what can be accomplished when South Dakotans come together to work on behalf of the future of our state.

In fact, this major victory for South Dakota reminds me of the joint effort to save Ellsworth Air Force Base. The delegation was proud to stand united in that fight, and we are equally excited about the potential for the underground lab at Homestake.

The benefits of bringing the lab to South Dakota are limitless. Through cooperative agreements between the lab and our state's universities, South Dakota's students will have unprecedented research and learning opportunities. The lab will bring hundreds of good paying jobs to the Black Hills, giving those students an avenue to stay in South Dakota after they graduate. And it is awe-inspiring to imagine how the scientific discoveries that will occur in this lab will affect and improve our way of life in decades to come. Experiments thousands of feet underground will probe some of nature's deepest secrets and seek answers to fundamental questions about neutrinos, dark matter, and the cosmic evolution of the universe.

With the selection process behind us, we are ready to move to the next phase. The delegation is unified in strong support of securing the necessary federal resources to ensure that the lab becomes a reality. Already, the South Dakota Congressional delegation has sent a letter to NSF Director Dr. Arden Bement Jr., congratulating him on the selection and expressing our clear commitment to advocating for the federal resources needed to bring the underground lab to fruition.

The next step in this process will finalize the design of the underground lab. Homestake is now expected to receive up to $5 million for each of the next three years to facilitate a more detailed design for the planned facility. Upon the design's completion, the stage will be set for the laboratory's construction, which we expect to require additional funding through the NSF's Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction Account.

To be sure, moving forward will require strong congressional support and leadership during the process of appropriating federal funds, and I join Sens. Tim Johnson and John Thune in standing ready to serve as strong advocates for the lab.

Congratulations are in order for all those who contributed to this amazing achievement. The selection of Homestake reflects its unparalleled scientific potential and superior candidacy. It is also the result of extremely hard work over a number of years from many dedicated people in Lead, around the state, and around the country. But our work continues, and I look forward to continuing to help move this project to completion in years ahead. With this victory, South Dakota's future has never been brighter.

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