Recent Op-Eds

People associate South Dakota's economy primarily with agriculture and tourism, and with good reason. The expanse of farm land that stretches for miles punctuated with the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore on the western edge are dominant symbols of our state. It is important, however, to look beyond agriculture and tourism at all of the exciting economic developments that exist outside of these two primary industries.

Ellsworth Air Force Base continues to be an economic anchor for western South Dakota as well as a vital part of our nation's defense strategy. This week's opening of the new Financial Services Center at Ellsworth will expand the mission of the base and make it even more important for the region's economy.

Another transformational economic opportunity in South Dakota is the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) in the old Homestake gold mine outside of Lead. I recently hosted a roundtable discussion in Lead where Dr. Tony Chan, the National Science Foundation's Assistant Director, spoke about what the lab means to South Dakota as well as the science community. Dr. Chan is the highest level NSF official to visit the mine. He emphasized how the lab is already putting South Dakota on the map of scientific discovery.

The Homestake Mine has produced a wealth of gold from its very beginning. As home to the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, it will now produce ground-breaking scientific discoveries.

The underground laboratory will be a global leader in scientific discovery. Among other things, scientists will study subatomic particles without the interference of extra cosmic radiation that exists on the surface of the earth. Dozens of other unique and high value scientific projects have been proposed and we can count on many more in the future.

Scholars will be available to train new scientists and generate greater interest in science and math among students in South Dakota's schools. There are plans for an area where school children can learn up close the ongoing science and important work conducted in the lab. This will be a great opportunity for all the students in South Dakota to increase their understanding of how science impacts our everyday lives.

As a member of the Senate Commerce & Science Committee, with oversight of the NSF, I look forward to using this position to help ensure DUSEL receives fair consideration and becomes a reality. The steps between now and any ribbon-cutting ceremony down the road on a lab 8,000 feet below the ground are complex and time-consuming. But from my seat on the Commerce & Science Committee I will be able to make sure DUSEL is getting a fair hearing among the competing interests for our nation's science and research dollars.

The economic impact of this laboratory cannot be understated, not just for the Black Hills, but for all of South Dakota. The innovation, invention, and impact of this place of discovery is limited only by our human imagination.