Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va) today spoke with the head of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to stress just how crucial the Green Bank Observatory is to research and innovation around the world while underscoring its importance to West Virginia and the local economy.
Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, has used his leadership position to weigh in on Green Bank as a state and national asset. And he's continuing to work with the West Virginia delegation to explore options after an outside committee recommended to the NSF that it divest from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank and five other telescopes across the country over the next five years.
"I am determined to do everything in my power to maintain the Green Bank Observatory and that's why I asked the Director of the National Science Foundation to come today to my office so we could talk about this issue face to face. Green Bank is a huge asset, not only to West Virginia, but to the scientific community worldwide. I'm working to make sure it stays that way for years to come," said Rockefeller. "Protecting Green Bank is important for global scientific research as well as for educating West Virginia's students and thousands of visitors who use the facility. Expanding math and science education is key to maintaining our global competitiveness, and Green Bank is important to that effort. More broadly, the 112 scientists the facility employs, and their colleagues around the world have made groundbreaking discoveries about our universe."
"The Green Bank Observatory is a world-class scientific facility, and I am committed to making sure that our federal government doesn't walk away from a resource that has and will contribute so much to science and discovery," Manchin said. "Since this report was released, I have been in contact with officials at the National Science Foundation to make sure that this state-of-the-art telescope is included in the national astronomy portfolio. This observatory means so much to the community in Pocahontas County, WVU and our entire state, as well as scientists around the world. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a budget solution that trims fat without cutting vital research facilities like Green Bank."
"We are continuing to leverage our strength as a united Congressional Delegation to press the National Science Foundation to explore all options in maintaining operations at the Green Bank facility. We have asked for additional information from the Director of the National Science Foundation, in order to determine our next steps and the best way forward, and we will continue to emphasize the importance of the Observatory to our community, our children, and our Nation's scientific endeavors," said Rahall, who joined the discussion by phone from his Beckley office.
Rockefeller and Senator Joe Manchin, along with Congressman Nick Rahall, sent a letter to NSF Director Dr. Subra Suresh on September 18 to express their serious concerns about such action and explain the important role that the observatory plays in West Virginia's scientific, educational, and economic growth.