Federal budget cuts threaten MSU nuclear research, Chrysler loan

LANSING — U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu brought a double whammy of chilling news to Michigan on Wednesday – nearly $600 million in government funding is now uncertain for a highly anticipated Michigan State University nuclear research project, and Chrysler may not get its long-sought loan to fund more fuel-efficient technology.

Chu, speaking to the Detroit Economic Club, said pressure to reduce the federal budget deficit is having an impact.

“We’re in new ground now. The president and the previous president wanted to double the science budgets over a 10-year period,” Chu said. “But that’s not realistic anymore.”

Chu’s statement that money is uncertain for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), a highly coveted physics research center, set off strong reactions.

“MSU and the State of Michigan have met their commitments in this partnership, and it would be unconscionable if the federal government failed to live up to its commitments,” said U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

Regarding Chrysler’s $3.5-billion loan request to fund future fuel-saving technology, Chu said, “We are still talking with Chrysler … but there are no promises.”

Last week, the Energy Department turned down a $730-million loan to Severstal North America to support production of high-strength steel in Dearborn.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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