UPDATE: Looks Mississippi may gotten on this final list because of politics. Check out the article in the Clarion Ledger.
Mississippi is in a good position to be awarded the $450 million National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF). The competitors are sites in Georgia, North Carolina, Kansas, Texas, as well as possibly the current site on an island off New York state. So why do we have the edge?
The Department of Homeland Security has been holding public hearings at all these sites. The NBAF will be studying animal diseases. It is admittedly a high risk facility, but it also brings economic benefits. The debate is over the safety precautions - and the news this week of a scientist at a government lab possibly killing people with anthrax didn't help.
Butner NC. On July 28, there was a hearing where at least 600 people showed up - not a single person spoke in favor of the lab. Over two thirds of the residents have actually signed a petition against it. The Congressman from the area, who had previously supported the facility, today withdrew his support.
Manhattan KS. At the August 1 hearing, all the governmental, academic, and business types showed out in force to support the lab - but no regular people. However, there was a significant number speaking in opposition and making some legitimate arguments.
Athens GA. No hearing had been held yet, but the local media and blogs are going hot and heavy on the issue.
San Antonia TX. Hearing is tomorrow.
KS, GA, and TX are located in college towns and academics want that research money, but college towns are also full of environmental types concerned about the health risks.
Flora MS. The hearing was today. What was strange about this hearing was that there was not one peep of opposition from the hundreds who attended. We are the polar opposite of Butner NC. Why is that? Are Mississippians so desperate for jobs that potential environmental and health risks don't matter?
The good news is that because of our unequivocal support, Mississippi might be awarded this lab and its economic benefits.
The bad news is that because of our ignorance, Mississippi could be in for a serious biological disaster.