Editorial: Investment in Brookhaven National Laboratory is win for entire region

Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton is one of the country’s premier scientific research facilities. Co-managed by Stony Brook University, it has attracted the world’s best scientists to Long Island. Its presence in Suffolk County adds a ton of prestige and top-of-the-line smarts to the region.

With the recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Energy that it will fund construction of a nearly $3 billion electron-ion collider at the lab, its importance to our region has grown by leaps and bounds. It is no exaggeration to say that this massive project will secure the lab’s place as the most important research facility of its kind in the world.

To put it in layman’s terms, the collider, once completed, will be able to study the subatomic elements that make up the foundation of the universe. The lab won this funding in a competition, prevailing over a federal research facility in Virginia. It is no exaggeration to say that Congressman Lee Zeldin was instrumental in BNL’s winning the contract. 

Many who supported the lab’s bid thought the president’s acrimonious relationships with Sen. Charles Schumer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo might have meant the collider would have gone to Virginia. But it didn’t, and Long Island is the big winner because of it. 

“This is absolutely huge,” said Kevin Law, chief executive at the Long Island Association. Referring to Amazon’s decision not to build a large facility in Queens, he added, “This is like an Amazon-type win for Suffolk County.”

The governor said the project would support some 4,000 construction jobs and will generate billions in economic activity. Construction of the collider — which will be about 2.4 miles in circumference and will be built underground — will take about 10 years. Mr. Cuomo also committed some $165 million in state funds to the project as an added inducement for the DOE to pick BNL.

In a statement, Mr. Zeldin said, “This cutting-edge project will inject billions of dollars and an extensive number of jobs into New York’s 1st Congressional District, all while churning out scores of scientific discoveries that help us understand the world around us, harness the untapped potential of the natural world and, from human health to our national security and beyond, benefit nearly every aspect of our lives. Furthermore, this never-before-seen technology will make BNL and NY-1 a destination for the next generation of scientists, attracting some of our world’s best and brightest.”

Eastern Long Island was once home to the remarkable group of scientists and engineers who put astronauts on the moon and brought them home safely. Newsday’s editorial extolling the award to BNL pointed out that construction of the collider “could be more important to the Island than the decision to build the Apollo lunar module here, which paved the way for tens of thousands of prime jobs and decades of prosperity.”

That is correct. This is indeed wonderful news for Long Island.

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