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Press Release
Officials from the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority urged the State Legislature to support Senate Bill 35


LEAD, SD— Officials from the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) urged the State Legislature to support Senate Bill 35. The bill would provide $13 million in emergency funding to support the first phase of the Sanford Underground Research Facility’s (SURF) two-phase expansion plan.

Casey Peterson, chair of the SDSTA Board, told members of the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee that SURF is out of space and needs to expand to ensure the United States remains competitive internationally in fundamental research.

“Recently, two experiments have gone to Canada and Italy, taking U.S. dollars for research and experiments. This is unacceptable,” Peterson told the committee.

Support from U.S. Particle Physics Community

SURF’s request for emergency funding comes with the release of a United States Particle Physics Community report that emphasizes the need for more underground research space in the United States and “strongly recommends” that new underground space be excavated on the 4850-foot Level of SURF to house next-generation experiments. 

The report highlighted the several specific needs for underground experiments, including depth, space, availability of environmental radiation monitoring, material screening capability, access for equipment and people, space for and availability of needed infrastructure and local support, and underground machine shops. SURF meets all of the requirements.

“The SDSTA is very pleased with science community’s recommendations for expansion at SURF,” said Mike Headley, executive director of the SDSTA. “We are eager to implement our plans, so we will be ready to host the next generation of experiments.”

The $13 million from the state would cover the cost of Phase 1 of SURF’s expansion plan: the development of critical ventilation and rock removal infrastructure. Receiving critical funding now allows SURF to take advantage of Thyssen Mining’s current work with the LBNF/DUNE project, saving $15 million in mobilization costs alone. It also paves the way to $100 million in private funding, which supports Phase 2, the excavation of two large caverns to provide space for future experiments. Each cavern would be 100 meters long, 24 meters tall, and 20 meters wide.

An economic boost for South Dakota

Expanding SURF’s footprint furthers South Dakota’s reputation as an international science and innovation center, keeps the United States competitive, and grows the South Dakota economy.

“The State of South Dakota has invested $62 million dollars in SURF over the past 15 years,” Headley said. “That investment has multiplied 15 times, generating $932 million in Federal and private funds. An additional investment of $13 million toward our expansion plan would generate $100 million in private funding, creating even greater benefits to the people of South Dakota.”

Sanford Underground Research Facility is operated by the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) with funding from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Our mission is to advance world class science and inspire learning across generations. Visit SURF at

More Information

Constance Walter
Communications Director
Contact by email
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PDF: Funding for expansion meets needs of U.S. Particle Physics Community and boosts S.D. economy
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GRAPHIC: SURF expansion plan
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