Winning states elated about Super Collider list

December 29, 1987

The Associated Press

(AP) — Officials in eight states whose numbers came up in the multibillion- dollar superconducting super collider lottery were elated Tuesday, but some losers said they weren’t ready to end the fight.

“This is a great Christmas present. But it is one based on hard work, an outstanding proposal and unprecedented, bipartisan teamwork,” Texas Gov. Bill Clements said.

Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, New York, Illinois, Michigan and North Carolina are the finalists in competition to land the $4.4 billion federal project, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering said.

The committee considered 35 sites proposed by 25 states for the collider, which would investigate the secrets of matter by swinging beams of protons into each other at energies 20 times what is now possible.

The Energy Department is scheduled to announce its choice in July 1988 and confirm it in January 1989. The project would require congressional approval.

“That’s great news. We have known all along that geologically and economically Arizona’s two sites made the best sense,” said Ken Smith, press secretary to Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham.

“My reaction is I’m very pleased,” said U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson said it was “gratifying” to be selected, but said competition among the eight finalists will be fierce.

Colorado Gov. Roy Romer said his state’s selection was “very good news. This has been a tough competition and will continue to be.” Colorado’s central location will help its chances, he added.

Some winners expressed surprise that California was left off the list, because of the state’s political clout.

California’s chances were apparently stymied by seeming lack of interest, Arizona’s Smith said.

“The difference here is a very, very clear and strong demonstration that this state wants the project,” he said. “A demonstration that it wants it and can handle it.”

“Obviously, we consider this a victory,” said Fran Layton, a San Francisco lawyer representing a coalition of citizens groups opposing the project. “What the academy is saying is that the criteria were not met, especially the seismic concerns and the prime agricultural land, and that California should not be the site of the SSC.”

Others in some of the losing states were less happy.

“Obviously, I was disappointed that Utah is not one of the states listed by the academies,” Utah Gov. Norm Bangerter said. “I am anxious to learn exactly why Utah has not been included.

“If I am not totally satisfied that our exclusion was based solely on objective scientific criteria, I will ask the DOE to reconsider our proposals,” he said.

George Ormiston, Nevada’s SSC coordinator and deputy director of the state Department of Commerce, said he was skeptical about Tuesday’s announcement.

“We just don’t think it has been done yet,” he said, adding that the Department of Energy will review the list of finalists.

“We can only say we gave it a good shot,” said Dick Milne, press secretary to Washington state Gov. Booth Gardner. “We recognized going in that we did not have the (recruiting) resources some of the other states did. But we gave it a good shot, the best effort we had to devote.”

The state spent $500,000 in tax money and a like amount of private money to attract the project.