WASHINGTON, DC – Gov. Rod Blagojevich traveled to Washington, D.C. today to deliver the message that one of the nation’s premier science and technology projects, the $1 billion Rare Isotope Accelerator (RIA), must remain a funding priority of the federal government. Gov. James R. Thompson and JPMorgan Chase Chairman of the Midwest William M. Daley, who were appointed by Gov. Blagojevich to co-chair a special task force charged with helping Illinois land RIA, joined the Governor for a meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and officials from the White House and Office of Management and Budget to reinforce their support for the project and urge that adequate funding is committed to RIA.
“RIA would be a remarkable new machine that will open up a new world of scientific discovery at the heart of matter. But we need to ensure that this project receives a long term commitment so that the investments today unlock the incredible, unimaginable potential of tomorrow,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “The State of Illinois is committed to aggressively pursuing this truly unique opportunity to host the RIA facility, which would also pay tremendous economic dividends for our state. RIA represents a $1 billion investment that will create 16,000 construction jobs and 1,750 permanent jobs in Illinois, including 400 new jobs at Argonne itself. Spin-off economic activity will be enormous, including $110 million in annual output into the Illinois economy.”
The RIA for Illinois Task Force, which was launched in September, is working with the Illinois Congressional delegation on a coordinated campaign to convince the White House, U.S. Department of Energy and Congress that the University of Chicago is the right manager and Argonne National Laboratory is the right location for the project, expected to be the world’s leading facility for research in nuclear science. In addition to being a world-renowned research facility with unmatched scientific talent, Argonne’s existing infrastructure would enable it to host the project for a much lower cost than would its competition - saving the federal government an estimated $100 million.
“RIA will change our world in ways we can’t even imagine, and we are spreading a unified message that this project must move forward. In addition, Argonne, which is operated for the federal government by the
University of Chicago, is ideally suited for the RIA facility because of its cost savings advantage and leadership role in developing the overall concept for the accelerator and its experience in the design, construction and operation of large-scale U.S. Department of Energy facilities.” Secretary Daley said.
“It is imperative for the United States to continue to invest in our technology infrastructure so we continue to be competitive with the rest of the world. RIA is a one-of-a kind research facility that has consistently been a top priority for the U.S. Department of Energy, and we need to make sure this project becomes a reality. Efforts like these are critical to helping us do so,” Gov. Thompson said.
The U.S. Department of Energy has a number of funding priorities, and its Office of Science will reevaluate RIA’s priority level in the context of these other future funding priorities. Gov. Blagojevich and the task force leadership are aggressively sending the message to Washington that RIA belongs atop that list and holds much too great a value to the nation to be put on hiatus.
The state’s congressional delegation has been at the forefront of the effort to win RIA, with U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), in whose district Argonne is located and who chairs a key congressional subcommittee, leading the way. U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) have also been instrumental in marshalling support for RIA.
“This is not only the right decision for Illinois – this is the right decision for our country. With this incredibly talented, dedicated and diverse group of people working together, I know we will continue making our compelling case for why RIA belongs at Argonne,” Sen. Durbin (D-IL) said.
"Given our current budget challenges, it is important for both the Administration and Congress to make this project a national priority. We still have a long way to go, and we all must continue to emphasize the enormous potential it holds for our country's technological and economic competitiveness," said U.S. Representative Biggert (R-IL), Chairman of the House Science Committee, which has jurisdiction over the DOE's national laboratories and is responsible for authorizing RIA.
“The impact on Illinois’ economy would be profound,” Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jack Lavin said. “Equally important, RIA would provide leading-edge research facilities for our universities and our industries, resulting in development of new products in medicine and biology, electronics, materials and the environment.”
Argonne is located about 25 miles southwest of Chicago’s Loop, surrounded by DuPage County Forest Preserve land. The Rare Isotope Accelerator will be the world’s leading center for the creation and study of “rare isotopes,” radioactive species with such short lifetimes that they no longer exist in nature. Its capabilities, unmatched anywhere in the world, will allow scientists to study the generation of energy in the stars and test new ideas about the fundamental forces of nature that govern the universe. This research will have a multitude of medical and commercial applications. Log onto www.riaforillinois.com
for more information on the RIA project.