Fermilab History and Archives Project

The White House and Fermilab

Return to The White House and Fermilab

July 26, 1967

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I have today signed H.R. 10918, a bill to authorize appropriations for the Atomic Energy Commission for the fiscal year 1968. I am sure that the fiscal year 1968 will mark another year of accomplishment and progress in the atomic energy program.

As you know, the bill authorizes the initial funding for the 200 Bev proton accelerator which was included in the 1968 budget. I note, however, that the accompanying report of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy expresses an intention that the 200 Bev accelerator be built in a rather more costly version, because of its higher intensity characteristics, than the one I had in mind when I included design funds in the 1968 budget.

You will recall that the accelerator contemplated in the 1968 budget was estimated to cost approximately $240 million. It was to be designed in such a way as to retain the option for later modification to a higher intensity performance if the circumstances warranted. In contrast, the Committee's report appears to favor an accelerator estimated to cost about $308 million. I understand that either machine would later require experimental equipment and other capital facilities in the range of $60 million.

I understand that since the budget was transmitted last winter you have been giving intensive consideration to various design options, and that the Commission is now optimistic about its ability to develop a design which could achieve the higher initial performance within the $240 million cost estimate. This would be a very favorable development. In this as in other Federal programs, we must give constant attention to alternative solutions which can achieve our essential objectives at lower costs.

I believe we should have the latitude to explore a range of possibilities. I should like to have you report to me on the results of your studies, with a view to your presenting an optimum plan to the Joint Committee before definitive design work begins.

Another principal concern over this bill in Congress involved the site selected by the Commission, and the availability of jobs and housing in the Weston, Illinois area.

I understand that while the State legislature of Illinois has not adopted a fair housing statute, the communities of Joliet, Weston, and Wheaton have all adopted open housing ordinances -- either patterned after, or at least as strong as, that of the city of Chicago. I further understand that the AEC has sought and obtained written commitments and assurances of non-discrimination from employers, unions, medical facilities, schools, banks, and communities in the Weston area. The Illinois board that licenses and regulates real estate brokers has issued an order prohibiting their participation in transactions involving racial discrimination.

Though the actions of these local authorities and organizations are encouraging, they must be accompanied by vigorous action on the part of the Federal government itself if we are to assure genuine freedom from discrimination in the area surrounding the project.

As you have told me, the AEC plans an affirmative action program to assure equal employment opportunity on the accelerator project. This will include efforts to assist prospective employees of all races in securing adequate housing of their choice. I urge you to pursue this program with determination.

Bold affirmative action by the AEC in this case can help make jobs and housing available in the Weston area to many who now inhabit the central city of Chicago. It is essential that that action be taken. Americans of all races should have an opportunity to apply for work, and for housing, in connection with this great scientific venture.

In order to keep the Joint Committee informed of our intentions in this regard, I suggest that you furnish that Committee with a copy of this letter.


<Original signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson>

Honorable Glenn T. Seaborg
Atomic Energy Commission
Washington, D. C. 20545



September 13, 1996

Leon M. Lederman, Ph.D.
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
Mail Stop 105, Post Office Box 500
Batavia, Illinois 60510-0500

Dear Dr. Lederman:

Thank you very much for your letter regarding our national commitment to basic scientific research. You and your fellow American Nobel Prize winners, relying on talent, hard work, and our public investment in research and education, have made enormous contributions to this nation's scientific and technological leadership. I pledge to continue the research and education investments needed to preserve that leadership and build upon it for the benefit of future generations.

You have eloquently stressed the importance of the government's "patient" capital for providing the scientific and technological foundation of our continuing prosperity, security, health, and quality of life. My Administration remains dedicated to nurturing science in America. This requires both maintaining federal investments in research and education and creating the economic climate that fuels private-sector investment, as well as private-public partnerships, in science and technology. Our commitment is and has been to sustain priority investments in education, the environment, research, and technology while making the difficult choices needed to continue our success in deficit reduction and to reach a balanced budget.

Your letter emphasized the special importance of maintaining federal funding for university-based research. I share that view. America's research colleges and universities are the bedrock of American leadership in science and technology. As the Nobel Prize awards themselves demonstrate, our universities are without peer in producing new knowledge, stimulating innovation, and training the scientists and engineers who will do so much to shape our future. Research at America's colleges, universities, and medical schools is and will remain a priority for the Administration.

As you know, there have been calls for sharp cutbacks in the investments necessary to sustain America's capacity for leadership in the twenty-first century. We need a national debate about the commitments we must make for our future. Responsible voices must be heard. Given your deep concern about the need to maintain U.S. leadership in science and technology and higher education, and your unique stature, I urge you to examine and help clarify the public policy alternatives facing our nation. The American people deserve the benefit of your analysis and perspective.

We look to you and your colleagues to help promote opportunity for all Americans in a new age of scientific discovery and advancement.