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Lack of funds threatens nuclear lab

Jan. 12, 2012 at 2:08 PM

DETROIT, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- A nuclear research lab expected to break ground this year at Michigan State University is in jeopardy of losing its federal funding, officials said.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the Obama administration has not yet decided on funding for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, a research lab that would create jobs and provide an economic boost to the state, The Detroit News reported.

"We have to be very careful because we can't be starting six things, and we can only afford four things or five things," Chu said Wednesday in remarks at the Detroit Economic Club.

The comments worried MSU leaders and members of Michigan's congressional delegation who had seen the proposed facility as a savior for a state battered by recession.

One report estimated the East Lansing research lab would create up to 6,200 jobs and provide a possible $1 billion boost to the state's economy.

"Thousands of construction and cutting-edge technology jobs are ready to be created this year," U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow said.

"MSU and the state of Michigan have already begun investing in this new facility based on bipartisan commitments to support the project, and it would be absolutely unacceptable if the rug was pulled out from under them now," she said.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers called the project an important national priority and said he'll work both sides of the aisle in Congress "to ensure that federal funding continues to this important project to Michigan and to the country."

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