BATAVIA – As a former scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster recently issued a statement in honor of its 50-year history.
His office also announced the joint attempt of Foster and fellow Democrats to find out the future of Fermilab and other national laboratories in light of President Donald Trump’s budget request for fiscal 2018.
Foster, a physicist, sent a letter in late May to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to ask for more information on the number of jobs that would be eliminated at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont and Fermilab if the administration’s budget were enacted.
Information on anticipated job losses at laboratories and universities typically is prepared as part of the normal budget process, but has not been included in the 2018 budget request, according to Foster’s office.
“We also sent another letter to all of the federal [science] agencies asking for information regarding job cuts,” Mary Werden, communications director for Foster, said in an email.
The letters’ requested response deadlines were June 2 and 15, respectively.
“We still have not received a response,” Werden said in late June.
Foster expressed concern about the effects of proposed budget cuts on the country’s position of leadership in science and innovation.
“Our national laboratory system supports a world-class workforce of research scientists, engineers and support personnel who work as teams on long-term solutions to address some of the nation’s greatest challenges,” he wrote.
“Moreover, our national labs play a unique and critical role in supporting the next generation of American scientists and researchers, including thousands of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at hundreds of U.S. institutions who depend upon [the] Department of Energy Office of Science facilities for their research and training.”
The Department of Energy has not answered a Kane County Chronicle request for comment.
In marking Fermilab’s anniversary milestone, Foster said he spent most of his career at the lab in Batavia before being elected to Congress.
“Fifty years ago, in the midst of the Cold War, scientists from all over the world came together to develop new technologies and to explore the fundamental nature of matter,” Foster said in a statement.
“The discoveries scientists made at that laboratory built on the prairies of Illinois will remain in the science textbooks forever, and I am proud to have been among them,” he stated.
“As a member of Congress, I will continue to stand up for the best interests of science, and of the men and women who work at Fermilab – and all of our national laboratories – as their work continues to move scientific discovery and our society forward.”