Monday, January 12, 2009

Bio-lab lands far from Tracy

Remember a couple years ago when the Department of Homeland Security considered Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Site 300 as a possible location for a lab studying deadly diseases?

The lab the Tracy City Council voted not to support has found a home, in Manhattan, Kansas.

The facility will research "livestock diseases and some of the world's most dangerous biological threats," according to The Associated Press report.

And my, are some Kansans happy.

Republican Sen. Pat Roberts gushed to AP: "With this new lab, Kansas will cement its reputation as the nation's leader in plant and animal health research and the biosciences. We will reap the benefits of a cutting-edge industry while protecting the nation's food supply and agricultural economy for years to come."

And my, are some other finalists for the lab's location not.

Last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry called the selection process unfair because his state's legislators weren't in session in 2008 and unable to consider a financial package to augment the state's bid.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said last month when the initial recommendation was made that the process was flawed and that his state should have been awarded the project.

Tracy, of course, is happy too. The sentiments from big dawgs in Texas and Mississippi are in stark contrast to those of the Tracy City Council, which voted in 2007 to oppose the Tracy location when the Livermore lab was still in the running.

At the time, I thought it made much more sense to research germs at Site 300 (especially those that could help fight agricultural pestilence in an agricultural region) than another lab plan to increase outdoor bomb testing that involved sending depleted uranium and tritium into Tracy's airspace (a plan I extensively criticized).

Turns out there were plenty of people willing to accept the risk associated with the lab and roll out the welcome mat. The leadership in Kansas certainly seems upbeat, and, as I noted in October 2007, folks in Tracy got what they wanted.

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