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Letter to Samuel Bodman, Secretary of the Department of Energy, Re: Locate Rare Isotope Beam Facility at MSU

Michigan Delegation Urges Energy Dept to Locate Rare Isotope Beam Facility at MSU

New facility could bring thousands of new jobs to Michigan

The entire Michigan congressional delegation today urged the Department of Energy to locate its new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) at Michigan State University. The delegation argues that MSU's facilities - which include the most advanced rare isotope accelerator in the U.S. and the largest nuclear science facility on a university campus - would be the best place to house the FRIB, which could generate economic revenue close to $1 billion over ten years, with about 5,000 jobs during construction and 400 new high-tech jobs once the facility is in operation.

Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Congressmen Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Vernon J. Ehlers (R-MI) led the delegation efforts to make the case for MSU's application.

Senator Levin said: "Michigan State is a proven leader in the field of rare isotopes and nuclear physics and would provide the Department of Energy with a premier existing research facility and a world-renown team of nuclear physicists and students. Additionally, the new facility would bring Michigan thousands of jobs, significant revenue, and outstanding educational opportunities where students from all over the world could assist with groundbreaking research, training them for the jobs of tomorrow."

"MSU has received well-earned acclaim for the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and Michigan should be the home of the Facility for Rate Isotope Beams," said Senator Stabenow. "This facility is of vital importance to our state, and I intend to continue my efforts to ensure that MSU receives this project."

Congressman Rogers said: "Michigan State University is a world leading research institute in nuclear physics, and I am pleased to support the effort to house the facility for Rare Isotope Beams on its campus. Locating the facility at MSU will create good paying jobs for Michigan, provide outstanding educational opportunities for our next generation of scientists, and foster the potential for scientific breakthroughs that will benefit our state, our nation, and the world."

"Michigan State University is the ideal location for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, and I will be working convince the Department of Energy that it is the best choice," said Congressman Ehlers. "This scientific research facility would enhance the quality of education and research available in Michigan, and it would draw world-class scientists from around the globe."

The National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) at Michigan State, also known as the cyclotron lab, is a federally-funded scientific user facility that receives a significant portion of its funding from the National Science Foundation. More than 700 scientists from the U.S. and abroad have conducted research at the NSCL since it was established, and about 10 percent of the nuclear science doctoral students in the U.S. are trained on this facility.

Total funding for the new FRIB facility would be $550 million. The Department of Energy has indicated that it intends to make a contract award decision in the fall.

The text of the delegation's letter to Energy Secretary Bodman follows:

July 28, 2008

The Honorable Samuel W. Bodman
Secretary
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20585

Dear Secretary Bodman:

We are writing today in support of the application for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) submitted by Michigan State University. It is our strong belief that Michigan State University is the optimum choice for the FRIB selection.

The U.S. Nuclear Science Advisory Committee's Rare Isotope Beam Task Force described MSU's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) as "the nation's premier rare isotope facility" in its August 2007 report. NSCL has a long history of scientific leadership and discovery at the leading edge of rare isotope research. In addition, NSCL has been recognized for its superior management experience and has an exceptional record of user support, including outstanding availability and reliability rates for its superconducting heavy-ion accelerator and rare-isotope beam production and delivery systems.

MSU also brings significant strengths that go beyond the scientific and management skills demonstrated at NSCL. As one of the top 100 research universities in the world, MSU offers a critically important element to this competition - the integration of discovery on the frontiers of science with education and training of the next generation of scientists and engineers. While all scientific user facilities have an educational role, locating the FRIB on a university campus would have a far larger educational impact than could be achieved elsewhere. At MSU, over 100 graduate and undergraduate students currently participate in the experiments, operations, and maintenance of the NSCL facility itself. The students are able to be involved in all aspects of scientific discovery that occur in the lab, from conceptualization to implementation, rather than only being engaged on the relatively small subset of tasks dealing with specific experiments. The skills and expertise that these students obtain in that process are in high demand by the national laboratories, the private sector, and academia, where they continue to make important contributions in diverse areas, such as national security, cancer treatment, and both fundamental and applied research.

From our discussions with MSU President Lou Anna Simon, we understand her strong personal commitment and support to the FRIB project and her commitment that the university will deliver the new facility on cost and on schedule while meeting or exceeding the Department's stated performance objectives. In addition to its excellent record of performance in operating NSCL, the university's track record over many years in successfully managing large projects using best industrial practices stands as proof of its ability to achieve the Department of Energy's goals for FRIB.

The entire State of Michigan is galvanized behind this project - elected officials, business and labor leaders, and high tech and venture capitalists are all supporting the efforts to bring this project to the State. This project is of critical importance to our state and is key to maintaining U.S. world leadership in rare isotope research and to creating significant new science-related jobs in Michigan and the U.S.

We offer our strongest support for the application recently submitted by Michigan State, and we request the opportunity to meet with you in person during the week of September 8th, along with key business and community leaders, so that you can hear first hand the community's support for this proposal and its importance to the State of Michigan.

Sincerely,

Senator Carl Levin

Senator Debbie Stabenow

Congressman John Dingell

Congressman Mike Rogers

Congressman John Conyers

Congressman Fred Upton

Congressman Dale Kildee

Congressman Dave Camp

Congressman Sander Levin

Congressman Pete Hoekstra

Congressman Bart Stupak

Congressman Joe Knollenberg

Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick

Congressman Vernon Ehlers

Congressman Tim Walberg

Congressman Thaddeus McCotter

Congresswoman Candice Miller

Cc: The Honorable Ray Orbach, Under Secretary


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