BREAKING NEWS: Energy secretary backs off on MSU's $550M project


U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu says funding for a $550 million nuclear research facility under development at Michigan State University could be in doubt.

Chu made the statement Wednesday during an appearance at the Detroit Economic Club.

Michigan State won a national competition to land the project in December 2008, and work is well under way to design and develop staff for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

Chu says he's trying to be "as neutral" as he can on the project, saying the national economic downturn is putting a squeeze on federal resources.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin says in a statement that it would be "unconscionable if the federal government failed to live up to its commitments."

The facility is scheduled to start operating in 2018.