WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is hoping for a public meeting held by the director of the National Science Foundation regarding possible support changes for the Green Bank Observatory.
The NSF has been reducing funding for the Pocahontas County site, and in draft environmental impact statement last week suggested the possibility of collaboration with other parties in order to keep the facility operational.
A hundred people are employed at the facility.
Manchin said in a letter to NSF director France Cordova said local communities benefit from the observatory’s operations, which attracts 50,000 annual visitors.
“While I understand the challenges the Foundation faces in the current budget climate, I remain very concerned that the agency preferred alternative would not only create a major void in the field of national and international scientific research, it could devastate local West Virginia communities and the state at large,” he said.
Manchin added he disagreed with the proposed 21-week implementation period if it was decided the facility should be preserved or demolished, as well as the lack of details regarding the possibility of collaboration.
“I am disappointed that the Foundation did not include a discussion of the unique and groundbreaking work that the national and global science community can accomplish by using the Observatory’s facilities that would be affected if the preferred alternative is adopted,” he said.
Manchin told Cordova he would be willing to host a meeting with her that would allow the “global science community” to submit input on the effects of the changes.
“In 2017 alone, there have been over 30 scientific publications that are a result of work conducted at the Observatory.”
A public meeting is scheduled for Nov. 30 at the Green Bank Observatory Science Center regarding the draft environmental impact statement. Public comments can also be sent via email at envcomp-ASTfirstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to the NSF through Ms. Elizabeth Pentecost, RE: Green Bank Observatory, Division of Astronomical Sciences, Room W9152, 2415 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria, Va. 22314.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., said in separate letters last week they are working to preserve the observatory.