Senator Schumer announces plan to save U. of R. Laser Lab

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. - New York Senator Chuck Schumer announced a plan Monday that he hopes will prevent the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics from closing.

The Department of Energy's budget proposal calls for the facility to be closed down in the next three years.

Senator Schumer said Monday there's a war on science. If the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, also known as the laser lab, closed, it would cost hundreds of jobs and shut down important research.

Students, faculty and staff packed the University of Rochester lab Monday to hear his plan.

“I've spent my life in this field and education,” said lab teacher Dustin Froula. “There's no place better in the world to do what we're doing and to train students for the next generation.”

Many were hopeful Senator Schumer can help keep the doors open.

“Turning out the lights at the laser lab is a horrible idea,” Schumer said. “And I want to promise you, it will not happen under my watch.”

Schumer says he's urging Congress to include $75 million dollars in federal funding for the laser lab in the upcoming appropriations bill.

He's also proposing a cooperative agreement between the lab and Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration to keep it open for the next five years.

“The only way to get reliable information on nuclear weapon performance, is doing experiments. Do you know where those experiments are done? Right here at the lab,” Schumer explained.

Lab Director Mike Campbell says closing the lab would have a large long-term impact on the economy, and would be bad for science.

“To take it away would be a disaster to the entire country," said Campbell.

Dustin Froula says he’s joining the effort to keep the lab open.

“We are fighting," he said. "I spent the last week, two weeks ago in Washington working on making sure we have support.”

But Campbell and Froula say they are confident in Schumer's plan.

"I will go home sleeping well tonight. I’ve been worried," Campbell added.

This plan has to go through Congress on March 25. Money will come from Department of Energy Budget

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