Rockford's Independent Newspaper

House passes bill boosting funding to Illinois national laboratories

By Guy Stephens 

The U.S. House passed a measure Tuesday sponsored by a northern Illinois Congressman that increases funding at two federal labs in Illinois.

Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-14, said the Accelerating American Leadership in Science Act will do just that, by making sure the Fermi and Argonne national laboratories, and the U.S., remain go-to destinations for the world’s best and brightest in science.

Much of the funding will go to the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, or DUNE, which involves facility upgrades at Fermilab in Batavia and a site in South Dakota.

The Plano Republican said the effort to understand the mysterious particles is just what the government should be funding.

“The private sector can do many things well,” he said. “The one thing they don’t do well is this basic scientific research of understanding how the world works.”

Some of the money will go to upgrading Argonne’s advanced photon source facility, as well as the lab in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Hultgren said the Argonne facility is valuable to both the public and private sectors.

“It’s being used by some six thousand researchers every year,” he said. “I want to make sure that continues to be accessible and available and updated.”

Hultgren says the labs provide enormous opportunities for students from grade school to graduate school.  And, he says, the large facilities have positive ripple effects on the local economy and beyond.

Hultgren says the Act will ensure that America stays at the forefront of the scientific world. It will also keep the labs, and their academic and economic impact, going for years to come.

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