House Preserves $110 Million to Launch Physics Project
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Efforts to fund a $5 billion atom-smasher in Texas - President Bush’s home state - now move to the Senate as part of an $18.5 billion spending bill for energy and water projects.
House members, fearing that water projects in their own states might also falter, voted overwhelmingly against an amendment Wednesday to delete Bush’s request for the superconducting super collider from the measure.
Later approved on a voice vote, the fiscal 1990 spending measure for energy and water projects also quadruples funds - to $636 million - for environmental cleanups at the nation’s nuclear weapons plants.
Similar legislation has yet to move through the Senate, where another attempt may be made to eliminate $110 million to begin construction on the high-energy physics research project.
Located 25 miles south of Dallas, the project would consist of two giant rings 53 miles around for accelerating and colliding protons into each other in an effort to examine subatomic particles.
Physicists hope the device, to be completed in 1999, will enable them to duplicate for the first time - but on an infinitesimally small scale - the conditions of the ″big bang″ theory of creation.
″The SSC is a critical part of this administration’s initiative to strengthen the position of the nation as a world leader in science and technology,″ the White House said in a statement Wednesday.
″It will produce discoveries, innovations and spinoffs that could touch profoundly on every American.″
Opponents expressed fears that the super collider’s construction cost will balloon to $900 million a year and squeeze out funds for research on improving computers and finding a cancer cure.
But the attempt to delay construction was defeated on a 330-93 vote after Bush personally appealed to key legislators.
Chief among them was Rep. Tom Bevil, D-Ala., who as chairman of the House Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee, holds the spending keys to hundreds of water projects in every state.
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., one of the sponsors of the amendment to strike super collider construction funds from the bill, said the effort failed partly because of widespread fears of antagonizing Bevil.
The bill includes $1.1 billion for construction of 93 Army Corps of Engineer water projects - 37 of them new - in 39 states plus $661 million for Interior Department water projects in 10 western states.
The Energy Department has put a $4.9 billion price tag on the super collider project, but the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will cost at least $6.4 billion.