Recent Op-Eds

The Next Gold Rush

July 13, 2007

Discovery has been part of the Homestake Mine from the very beginning. With the recent choice of the mine as the sight of a Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, it will now be a place to make ground-breaking scientific discoveries.

This is a huge victory for the Lead area and the whole state of South Dakota. Homestake will now be home to the Sanford Laboratory, named after philanthropist T. Denny Sanford whose generous $70 million donation helped in making the project possible.

The laboratory will be the deepest in the world. Among other things, this will allow scientists to study subatomic particles without the extra cosmic radiation that exists on the surface of the earth. Eighty-five specific scientific projects have been proposed and we can count on many more in the future.

This lab could help the United States become more competitive globally by creating an environment conducive to cutting edge scientific discoveries. The Sanford Laboratory at Homestake will help South Dakota retain its top science and math scholars, as well as attract elite scientists from all over the world.

The lab will also train new scientists and generate more interest in science and math among students here in our schools. There are plans to have an area where school children can learn new things up close about science and the important work that will be conducted in Lead. This will be a great opportunity for all the students in South Dakota to increase their understanding of how science impacts our everyday lives.

The National Science Foundation announcement means that Homestake is no longer competing against other sites for this important project, but that does not mean the fight is over. With the $15 million award, Homestake will have the next three years to further refine the plans involved in developing this lab, but it must still compete with other NSF projects for additional funding. I will work closely with Senator Johnson and Representative Herseth Sandlin to secure federal funding for the lab.

Ultimately, the economic impact and the ripple effect that this will send through the Black Hills region will be significant. The innovation and invention that can emerge from an endeavor of this magnitude is limited only by human imagination.

As one of the main centers of the Gold Rush of 1876, the Lead area was at the forefront of new breakthroughs as many flocked to the region to strike it rich. Now, it will be the center of different kinds of breakthroughs as scientists from all over the world come to study the makeup of the earth and our universe. This is a great opportunity for the Lead area, South Dakota, and the country. It is a new type of gold rush that will benefit all South Dakotans for generations to come.