Texas National Research Laboratory Commission

By: John Michael Kennedy

Type: General Entry

Published: August 1, 1995

The Texas National Research Laboratory Commission was established by the Sixty-ninth Legislature in 1985 to oversee the process of siting the Superconducting Super Collider in Texas. The Super Collider particle accelerator was to consist of a fifty-four-mile oval-shaped tunnel in which electrically charged protons would be accelerated for collision experiments. TNRLC was a nine-member policy-making body, appointed by the governor with Senate approval. Of the nine members, two were required to be scientists, and the Texas Scientific Advisory Council advised the commissioners. The agency was authorized to acquire land and issue up to $1 billion in bonds to fund necessary site acquisition and preparation, construction, and equipment acquisition. After reviewing fourteen proposals from across the state, TNRLC submitted two sites to the United States Department of Energy. In 1989 the Dallas-Fort Worth site (located south of the metroplex in rural Ellis County) was chosen as the home of the SSC, and the TNRLC relocated from Austin to DeSoto. After winning the Super Collider project, the TNRLC became responsible for overseeing the state's monetary interest in the SSC. The commission arranged for the purchase of nearly 17,000 acres of land as well as other activities of the commission, including: environmental monitoring and mitigation studies for the Ellis County site; infrastructure planning and construction; and the administration of a $100 million research and development program, designed to complement the laboratory's physics program by providing research grants to more than 100 universities and companies across the United States and around the world. In October 1993 Congress voted to discontinue funding for the Super Collider. Governor Ann Richards appointed a panel of Texas scientists and business leaders to determine ways that Texas's significant investment in the project could be protected and the state-of-the-art collider facilities could be used for other worthwhile purposes. The panel presented three recommendations to the commission in March 1994, including the establishment of a Center for Research in the Uses of Superconductivity and Cryogenics, a Regional Center for High-Performance Computing, and a Regional Medical Technology Center to conduct cancer research, produce radioisotopes, and provide proton therapy treatments to cancer patients. Commissioners also announced an agreement with the Department of Energy, which ensured that valuable assets of the project and the project site itself would be used in constructive ways. Formal expressions of interest for future uses of the SSC were accepted by the Department of Energy in Washington through mid-April. With the cancellation of the Super Collider, throughout 1994 the Texas National Research Laboratory Commission continued to be downsized.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (Super Collider).
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

John Michael Kennedy, “Texas National Research Laboratory Commission,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-national-research-laboratory-commission.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995

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