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State lawmakers approve funding for underground research facility

SURF Entrance
SURF Entrance

Sanford’s Underground Research Facility, known as SURF, is located at the former Homestake Gold Mine in Lead.

Research at the facility includes physics, biology, geology, and engineering experiments.

Senate Bill 35 was brought to legislation to provide a $13 million dollar appropriation from the state’s general fund to expand laboratory space at SURF.

Sen. Ryan Maher and Rep. Rebecca Reimer were prime sponsors of the bill.

Reimer spoke on the House floor about the economic advantages SURF continues to provide the state.

“The state has invested $62 million dollars to date, which has resulted in over $932 million in federal private funding, a 15-to-one return on investment in South Dakota. SURF has directly spent over $306 million dollars statewide and has 400 high-paying jobs in South Dakota. SURF’s total economic impact in this decade alone is $2 billion dollars and 12,000 jobs statewide,” said Reimer.

Cabot-Ann Christofferson is a chemist and researcher at South Dakota Mines. In an interview on In the Moment with Lori Walsh, she said that SURF is searching for answers to the universe through studying dark matter.

"The big question is, if we think about when the universe was created, matter and antimatter were in equal matters or equal amounts. So, as they come together, you should just have an annihilation with a release of energy and that’s all that remains," Christofferson said. "But what we see is that there matter that remains in the universe, and we don’t quite understand where that imbalance comes from. So, understanding how matter is interacting is an answer of why the universe is here.”

The expansion of SURF is now in planning stages thanks to the state’s appropriation approval.

Listen to Christofferson's full interview below..

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.
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