Senate committee recommends $13 million to expand Sanford Underground Lab

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Senate Commerce Committee approved a recommendation Tuesday that the Joint Appropriations committee consider a bill that would allocate an additional $13 million to the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in the Black Hills.

Senate Bill 35 would assign additional funding that proponents say would be used to construct two new caverns, providing more room for additional experiments to be performed.

They said that the lab, nearly a mile below the surface at the former Homestake Mine in Lead, needs space to stay competitive with international competitors like Canada, Italy, and China. Proponents said the state was losing out on projects–and money–to other labs with more space.

“Why are we asking for $13 million? We’re out of space. With the 39 experiments, and there are more to come, we need space for more. Recently, two experiments have gone to Canada and Italy, taking U.S. dollars for research,” said Casey Peterson, owner of a financial advisory firm and member of the SURF Board of Directors.

However, opponents cautioned that the budget does not have room for the expenditure.

“The governor is very supportive of the facility and its mission, however, this year, the budget proposal is focusing on the core functions of state government such as prisons and the core technology upgrades, which are needs of the state,” said Morgan Guebel, Chief Budget Analyst for the South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management  “At the time, we have not set aside enough funding for these projects.”

The measure passed the committee on a 9 to 0 vote with a favorable recommendation. SB 35 now goes to the Joint Appropriations Committee for its consideration.

Categories: Local News