Recognizing Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s 50Th Anniversaryby Former Representative Doc Hastings
Posted on 2014-12-11
in the house of representatives
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Mr. HASTINGS of Washington. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in recognition
of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which is celebrating a
half-century of innovation and achievement in American research and
For 50 years, the men and women at PNNL have worked diligently to make the Lab a leader among the scientific foundations of the United States, evolving from a laboratory supporting a nuclear materials development mission to a multi program national laboratory with significant portfolios in science, energy, and nonproliferation.
When America went to the moon in 1969, NASA chose the lab (then called the Pacific Northwest Laboratory, or PNL) as the only Northwest organization to analyze the lunar material from the Apollo program, and their work became critical to understanding the origin and history of the moon. Additionally, their research had many applications outside of the laboratory. In 1974, they developed a data storage technique called optical digital recording, and became the pioneer of a technology still popular with consumers today--CDs and DVDs.
Their commitment to the environment has consistently been a driving force in work they do. When Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980, PNL was ready. Because of their expertise in environmental sampling and monitoring, researchers were able to collect samples of the ash and assess potential threats to health and the environment. After the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl, they were assigned the lead role in collecting air samples of the fallout using special research aircraft. They also helped to monitor the radiation levels in the plume after it arrived in America. And, in the early 1990s, PNL helped create the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM). This model is now widely used around the world, and demonstrates the true impact of the laboratory's work on an international scale.
In 1995, they changed their name to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory--a suitable switch, since they had always been a national lab making national impacts. Two years later, they opened the Environmental Molecular Science Laboratory (EMSL), a national scientific user facility, which narrows the gap between theoretical molecular modelling and practical physical experimentation. Since its opening, EMSL has welcomed scientific users from every state, and nearly 30 countries.
In the early 2000s, PNNL began to focus on updating the infrastructure of the United States' century-old electric grid, and incorporating it into the information age. They continue to be a leader in testing and developing new technology to manage and protect the grid, especially from new cybersecurity threats. Some of their most recent scientific missions include increasing U.S. energy capacity, and reducing dependence on imported oil; preventing and countering terrorism and [[Page E1807]] the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and creating sustainable systems, reducing the environmental effects of human activities.
Closer to home, PNNL created a suite of modern facilities to support its national and international customers using Battelle, federal, State and third party funds . . . a complex unique in the DOE laboratory system. The Consolidated Laboratory complex allowed PNNL to vacate older facilities that were on the Hanford site.
PNNL developed and supported efforts to create a WSU Branch Campus in the Tri Cities, including joint appointments and federal/state partnership for a research laboratory on the WSU campus. PNNL has been a strong supporter of STEM education programs throughout Washington State, including early funding to build the Delta Prep school in the Tri-Cities.
I want to thank the generations of hardworking men and women who helped bring PNNL this far. I am proud of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, its work, and the boundless spirit of American innovation that has made it possible for the last 50 years.