Action Alerts 2002


Action Alert #18 (7/20/02)
Environmental Regulation at Los Alamos Failing, What You Can Do


I. Introduction

II. What can we do?

III. Background information and analyses (a through c are available at <>)

a. The May 31, 2002 “Letter of Intent” Signed by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE): Meeting Environmental Responsibilities at New Mexico DOE Facilities”

b. "New Mexico Environment Department Sells Out" (July10, 2002)

c. "Very Informal Comments on the May 31, 2002 “Letter of Intent” Signed by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the Department of Energy DOE): “Meeting Environmental Responsibilities at New Mexico DOE Facilities” (July 8, 2002)

d. Portion of congressional testimony, conversation between Rep. John Spratt and Mr. John Foster, March 21, 2002.

e. Brief draft notes to the main administrative and legal processes underway which affect the continuing disposal of nuclear waste at Los Alamos and the prospects for cleaning up contaminated sites there (gm 7/18/02)

NOTE: THIS IS A DRAFT AND MAY CONTAIN ERRORS. IT IS INCLUDED HERE FOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE WHO WISH GREATER DETAIL, AND FOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS WHO MAY BE ABLE TO CORRECT ERRORS IN IT. These notes do not include discussion of the new so-called "Performance Management Plan" (PMP), which we received in its latest version only yesterday, which provides further detail to item a. above. Nothing in the new PMP affects the analyses offered in b and c., which were based on an earlier, less-polished version of the PMP, which does not appear to be substantively different from this more recent one.

Dear friends --


Many of you reading this alert have petitioned the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to close Los Alamos' Area G nuclear and hazardous waste landfill to further nuclear waste disposal and to hold hearings on the remedies to be chosen for that site and for all other contaminated sites at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). More than 2,000 people have sent such a petition to the NMED through the Governor's office (with NMED Secretary Pete Maggiore in reluctant attendance), along with 27 environmental organizations, most of those operating in the state. The Attorney General's office, New Mexico's highest authority in the matter, has written that disposal at Area G has been illegal since 1985, and has requested both closure of Area G and public hearings on cleanup.

And yet dumping goes on. And the NMED continues to make its decisions (and to postpone certain other decisions) in private, eliminating important options, winnowing the possibilities for the future and maintaining a shell of public participation to render those decisions impervious to judicial review. The way the public is being excluded, and real cleanup quietly being taken off the table, is complex. In fact, it is VERY complex. This complexity is one reason that if the current processes are allowed to continue, there will be, quite frankly, little that citizens can do to affect them.

Another reason for citizen disempowerment is the secrecy with which NMED and DOE are conducting their business. Would it surprise you that just yesterday, 7/19/02, the key DOE/NMED plan outlining the cleanup at LANL -- what some would say is the REAL plan -- was VERY quietly released to a few chosen people for "public comment," comments which are said to be due at close of business on Tuesday of next week, 7/23/02? The only reason we heard about this "opportunity for comment" at all was a PRIVATE email that someone provided to the Study Group. That email was from none other than NMED Secretary Pete Maggiore, who once seemed devoted to openness and communication.

The sum of these complex and secret processes, described in more detail below in #3, may be to say, and to say without any exaggeration, that a roughly 35-year-old paradigm of environmental regulation appears to be coming to an end, and is being replaced by a Brave New World in which nothing is quite what it seems, an environmental regulatory world in which a business paradigm, with business values, is gradually supplanting an environmental one.

These business values -- what are they? Efficiency, career, money, prestige, and "service to the customer," to what we formerly would have called the regulated industry. In this case, the regulated industry just happens to be the world's best-funded and most influential center for the design, testing, and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction, one which doesn't even pay taxes in this state. Is it impolite to name the industry being regulated here? Now that Secretary Maggiore has (most improperly!) signed a quasi-contractual agreement saying that his agency will assist LANL to "focus" on its "core national security mission," it has become especially important to name the mission he has agreed to use the state's regulatory structure to support. We can only be grateful he was so explicit.

It must be said that the people who are creating this brave new world are fine folks. In fact, they are among the best we have in New Mexico. It is not easy being a public servant, and all of them are distinguished public servants and fine scientists and managers. I could go on with many sentences of sincere praise, but it would be beside the point. It's just that they, like most of us, know not what we do, or choose not to think about it. And in fairness, what is happening now is only an acceleration of trends long-established -- the near-inevitable, indirect result of decisions long made and assumptions long taken for granted, the result of many years' lack of serious discussion, and the cumulative effect of a vast collective failure of courage and compassion in which all of us play a starring role.

The choices being made are also wholly current. They are intentional and conscious policy choices being made by the Governor, Secretary Maggiore, and our Republican senator to free Los Alamos from the burden of what some call "excessive" regulation and get on with the

far more important job of making nuclear weapons. There are only a few more months left in this Republican/Libertarian administration, and it is just now that these decisions must be quickly made, and are.

Make no mistake about it: the environmental decisions now being made by NMED are EXPLICITLY tailored to serve the best interests of the nuclear weapons industry, which could otherwise be seriously hurt by enforcement of environmental law in this state. It is to ease that tradeoff – the tradeoff between nuclear weapons and environmental regulation – that DOE (in the driver's seat) and NMED have offered (to each other, primarily) their new proposals.

This tradeoff, or linkage, between weapons of mass destruction and the environmental mass destruction they have wreaked (and, in our state, continue to wreak) is fairly explicit in congressional testimony and DOE strategy documents. One such transcript is quoted in Part 3d below, which you may find darkly illuminating.

The blossoming failure of state regulation of LANL cleanup is also a result of failure in our own community. Here at the Study Group I, for one, have been especially remiss in not rejecting vigorously enough the self-indulgent paranoia of many people, whose stated concerns about Los Alamos seem to begin and end with their own health -- an important subject, to be sure, if these concerns were based on real risks. But unless these people are or were LANL workers or their families, or lived very near the laboratory in past decades, these concerns are simply not based in reality. For example, many people seem to believe they were poisoned by man-made radiation in the smoke from the Cerro Grande fire. This is most assuredly not true. Some people holding such beliefs have even found support for them among professional environmentalists, however. Clearly, one cannot organize for any political objective, or build any sort of society, upon falsehoods, or the perpetuation of falsehoods, no matter how seemingly-noble the intention.

Quite the reverse, in fact. With the social acceptance of irrational ideas, the resulting collapse of objectivity and confusion creates an open field for the advance of authoritarian government.

Indeed authoritarian government MUST advance if objectivity collapses, because there is no coherent alternative. I suppose that none of us want authoritarian government and corporations, no matter with what friendly faces they are coming. Therefore we have to work at the truth. It is a heavy labor for us all, but it can be a labor of love. There is certainly no possibility of love without it. Of course, it is the more hysterical concerns which are the easiest to manipulate and to placate.

If you read Part 3e, you may begin to appreciate why someone would say that the paradigm of conventional environmental regulation, with meaningful public involvement, may have come to an end.


Some people want easy answers, but if you have read this far, you are probably not one of them. What we can offer here at the Study Group, right now, is to continue the discussion while we work together. For example, we have several thousand bumper stickers in our office that really would look a lot better on cars and trucks. Can you help us get them there? Bring a friend. We believe this to be a very honest, effective, and straightforward way to register protest (among others).

Or, if you can do research and have time to do it, we need you and we want to work with you and might be able to help. Call us up, schedule a meeting, and let's see what develops. Rome was not built, or supplanted, in a day.


Items a, b, c, and e are (or very soon will be) available at: <>.

a. The May 31, 2002 “Letter of Intent” Signed by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE): Meeting Environmental Responsibilities at New Mexico DOE Facilities”

b. "New Mexico Environment Department Sells Out" (July 10, 2002)

c. "Very Informal Comments on the May 31, 2002 “Letter of Intent” Signed by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the Department of Energy (DOE): “Meeting Environmental Responsibilities at New Mexico DOE Facilities”

d. Portion of congressional testimony; conversation between Rep John Spratt and Mr. John Foster, March 21, 2002. [between the ****, below]

e. Brief draft notes to the administrative and legal processes underway which affect the continuing disposal of nuclear waste at Los Alamos and the prospects for cleaning up contaminated sites there (gm 7/18/02)


MR. [JOHN] FOSTER [Chair of official congressional oversight and advisory panel on the uclear weapons complex]: "...we have deterioration in the stockpile [not true] to the point that it has been ordered that we will remanufacture, refurbish three new types ["new:" an apparent Freudian slip] -- three types of weapons that are in the stockpile and, further, that we have to develop a different kind of nuclear capability in order to be able to penetrate some of the underground targets. Those two things put us on a totally different course for the future. Now, to deliver on that course we're going to have to galvanize the management. The management has been concerned with a whole bunch of other things, at least as regards laboratories. Now they're going to have to turn their attention to job one."

REP. SPRATT [an opinion leader in the House on nuclear weapons]: "One of the diversions in 1989 was toward waste management and environmental remediation. Not only was it a management diversion, a diversion of purpose of management time, but also resources; almost half the allocation of the weapons program today goes for waste management and environmental remediation. I notice that you did mention that here".

MR. FOSTER: "The panel has difficulty trying to understand why with all the money and the tasks that need to be done, we can't get on with it. Now, one of the problems is clearly what you might call the bureaucracy. We have managed over the last decade or so to add to the bureaucracy that used to be there in the DOE before. We have added processes when it comes to safety and health -- what's the other one?"

REP. SPRATT: "Environment."

MR. FOSTER: "Environment, safety and health. Those things to the point where we have tied up the management of the company [another Freudian slip] -- of the laboratories and the plants, performing endless studies and reviews in order to see whether or not we could do this or do that.

Things that we used to be able to do in the matter of a week now can take months. It is just incredibly process oriented. And these processes do not add to safety or security. In fact, in some cases they actually hurt the situation. ..."

REP. SPRATT: "If you'll recall, when we first finally brought together some attention and focused it upon the environmental problem, because aside from being a problem, they did threaten the rest of the complex because it was a complex which had been widely supporting 17 different facilities throughout the country. As people began to get more and more attention to the legacy of environmental problems, they became a lot less supportive [of nuclear weapons work]. And so to keep support in place, we had to address these pin up [sic] problems."

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Action Alert #17 (7/17/02)
Want to Help LASG?

Dear friends and colleagues --

It's been two months since our last action alert. Although there’s been a hiatus in action alerts, it's been an incredibly busy period for all of us here! It's just that we've been working in ways that aren't too conducive to encapsulating in "action alerts."

THIS alert will (1) explain how you can help, even if you have only a few minutes to spare, to increase pressure to close the Los Alamos nuclear waste dumps and, maybe, achieve actual cleanup of contaminated sites. It also contains (2) an important update on recent Study Group news and (3) tells you that we are advertising for an Office Manager -- tell your qualified and interested friends.

The NEXT alert (#18), which will follow on Friday, will provide details and clear action suggestions stemming from the shocking story of how the Johnson Administration Environment Department, under the guise of its mis-named "corrective action order," is taking actions now that will probably tie the hands of the NEXT gubernatorial administration and could ensure that the Area G nuclear dump will NOT have to stop receiving waste, will NOT have meet closure and post-closure standards, will NOT be subject to substantive public hearings, and more. NMED expects to be substantially PAID by the DOE for signing off on certain "deals" with the DOE -- essentially regulatory indulgences --which it now already signed, and has already begun a process of clandestine meetings with DOE officials and DOE contractors to ensure that all these decisions proceed "smoothly," despite a formal requirement for substantive public hearings.

I wish I could find a way to describe what is happening in a more "positive" way, but after two months of study and legal consultation, I find that I cannot. And it is not at all impossible that what is being done now for DOE might also be an attractive pattern for other powerful polluters in the future. The values and ideals of the environmental movement have not been adequately renewed and refreshed, and they are now being supplanted by ideals from business. The rule of law, in this case, is being supplanted by informal "deals," a pattern which always favors the powerful.

***1. We need your help!***

We have 6,000 handsome, new, bright red bumper stickers ("Close Los Alamos nuclear waste dump NOW!), featuring beautiful art by Cathie Sullivan, which are very similar to the newly re-hung billboard you may have seen driving north from Albuquerque on I-25. We have these, and we also have 1,000 "waste drums" (food cans with an attractive, waste-drum label featuring a petition to the Gov. to close the darn dump and hold public hearings), which await kind and energetic hands to place them in other hands. Might some of those giving hands be yours? Lots of good folks are likely to help if we ask them, but somebody has to start the ball rolling!

If you can only help a little, please call us at the number below and GET A BUMPER STICKER FOR YOUR CAR! We'll gladly accept whatever donation you can make for them, from zero to...well, I don't want to name an amount too small! But mostly, we want to get those beautiful bumper stickers out on cars! Don't your friends want them too?

***2. Update: Study Group news***

As many of you know, my sweetie Trish and I, Greg, were married on May 11 in the Cathedral. Not too many days after, we headed off to our honeymoon in Hawaii, during which we were married in a different ceremony by my old Zen teacher Robert Aitken.

Trish hails from Amarillo, where she was a long-time staff member of a non-profit that watchdogs the Pantex nuclear weapons plant, called STAND (Serious Texans Against Nuclear Dumping). We are very happy.

In June, Study Group staff members Blake (Trask) headed back home to the Northeast to be with his sweetheart and to prepare for graduate school there, and Lydia (Clark) went to work in the David Bacon for Governor campaign. It's tough here now without them, and everything goes more slowly -- including these action alerts!

We are lucky, however, to have with us a fine volunteer legal intern, Andre Shiromani, and we are also assisted by an old friend, whose distinguished federal and private sector legal career included senior-level positions in both the Johnson and Carter administrations. Trish is often seen in the office, day and night, and so if you call you'll as likely hear her voice as mine or Andre's.

Paula Olivares, a friend from Los Angeles, flew out and helped us for a week as a volunteer web expert and trainer. (We will soon begin building up our web site again, and Paula is helping with this.) Thank you Paula!

More news: in May, I was asked to be a Visiting Fellow at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School, to write on nuclear weapons issues during the fall months. I accepted, and will be leaving Santa Fe in the middle of August, and will return here around Christmas. While there, I hope to publish about four papers on aspects of the U.S. nuclear weapons program, and will continue to direct Study Group activities on a daily, though more limited, basis.

I will be gone much of next week delivering a paper on the status of weapons design programs at the U.S. nuclear labs, with implications for potential nuclear testing and what lines of investigation might be most important to conduct by independent scholars.

***3. We are now advertising for an Office Manager.***

Know anyone wonderful for this job? Our address is below; ask them to send their resume there. It's a great opportunity for the right person!

Office Manager

The Office Manager of the Study Group is a full-time position of great responsibility and importance. This position requires maturity, judgment, initiative, character, and enthusiasm. It requires, above all, a “people person” who loves human beings and has excellent communication skills and leadership abilities. The position also requires competence in ordinary PC office software (word processing, database, spreadsheet, email, web browser), as well as an ability to grasp and convey basic policy issues to volunteers and key supporters in an inviting manner. In the fall of 2002, the Office Manager may be the only staff member present in the office.

Membership and volunteer coordination and recruitment (about 40% of overall work)

• recruit members
• recruit volunteers
• oversee and coordinate volunteers in specific projects
• provide member and volunteer services and help create a context of appreciation
• supervise and track database updates entered (off-site, by contractor)

Donor recruitment (about 25% of overall work)
• initiate and respond to donor inquiries
• identify potential donors and, in consultation with Director, lay groundwork for donor appeals
• participate in fundraising events for individual donors

Administration (about 20% of overall work)
• manage organizational accounts and supervise bookkeeping (on-site, by contractor)
• keep overall organizational calendar and assist with event scheduling and planning
• maintain and conduct corporate correspondence and filings as needed
• arrange occasional travel for staff, board members, and sometimes visiting scholars
• maintain and improve extensive program files as well as administrative files
• back up computers as needed
• purchase business goods and services or arrange for their donation where possible
• in particular, purchase advertisements and printing services
• answer telephones and respond to (or refer) callers

Other program activities (about 15% of overall work)
• Handle routine congressional communications, in consultation with Director
• Prepare for volunteer activities
• Print and distribute literature
• Attend and report on key meetings, e.g. occasional DOE public meetings,
• Request documents from Department of Energy, laboratory, and other sources

In 2003, these responsibilities may well be broadened, to include organizing meetings and events, helping coordinate direct mail campaigns and other mailings, providing logistical arrangements for visiting scholars, and assisting with program development.

[Job description ends]

All the best to each of you. Look for "#18" on Friday!


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Action Alert #16 (5/09/02)
NM Congressional Delegation

Dear friends and colleagues --

Since our last action alert, all of us here have been working as best we can to intervene in the momentous nuclear weapons policy decisions now underway in Washington, which are poised to reshape the foundations of U.S. nuclear policy for years to come. Of course, there also will be, if the President's nuclear plans are approved (which is likely), attendant heavy impacts across our society and our local environment in coming years.

It is difficult to overstate the gravity of the situation, which is developing so fast that it is difficult to communicate what is happening in "real time." There are many hopeful signs, however, even in these dark times; many of them related to the fact that what was hidden is becoming increasingly plain. We no longer have to spend time proving to people that new nuclear weapons are under development, and new factories are on the drawing board. The Bush Administration is doing that for us.

Please pass on this email to your friends, and suggest they contact us if they would like to receive further alerts.

Thank you for all your efforts toward a less violent and more just world.

Greg, Lydia, and Blake

P.S. Coming soon: update on LANL cleanup issues


Our biggest theme, in recent meetings here and in Washington, with Sen. Bingaman's and Congressman Udall's staffs, has been: we must begin to make clear, public, choices about nuclear weapons. In the present political climate, waffling is having big negative consequences.

Therefore, many of us at the Study Group will be trying to holding elected officials accountable not just for promoting things which are wrong and dangerous, but for silently holding the coats of those who do. At this point in time, and for these men, silence is assent.

1. We suggest you call Congressman Udall, and ask for his PUBLIC support for nuclear disarmament. This was our cardinal request when we met with him in Washington last month; at that time he expressed to us his support for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

He would not, however, sign on to a "dear colleague" letter originated by Congressman Markey urging a bar to development of earth-penetrating nuclear weapons, nor has he made any public statements critical of the administration's push to make nuclear war-fighting more legitimate. We have provided him with much information, and have briefed his staff. What we believe is needed now is for Rep. Udall to publicly choose where he stands, and to develop his detailed positions from there.

2. We believe that Senator Bingaman likewise needs to hear from us on the question of the development and production of nuclear weapons. I am attaching an op-ed below, which provides more information. We would like his position to be stated PUBLICLY, as he may follow Senate Armed Services Committee leadership (Levin), it be whether "yea" or "nay" on new nuclear weapons or any other given issue. It is the PUBLIC legitimacy of burgeoning nuclear weapons programs which needs to be deflated, quite apart from, although supportive of, action on specific votes.

FYI: Senator Bingaman was, in the last campaign cycle, the largest recipient of nuclear energy campaign funds in the U.S. Senate.


Senator Bingaman, Where Do You Stand? Key Vote on President's Nuclear Posture Review Looms 5/6/02 (published in slightly shortened version in the A. Journal, 5/8/02)

This week, the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which Senator Bingaman is a member, must make a serious decision about the future of U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

It is one of those moments when what may seem like a small choice will have big consequences.

The question before Senator Bingaman and the rest of the Committee is basically this: should the United States develop and build new or modified kinds of nuclear weapons, and construct the new factories needed to produce them? Some weapons contractors and life-long nuclear weapons advocates claim that these new kinds of nuclear weapons could more adroitly destroy some of the new targets they think we should attack with nuclear weapons, in the new wars they think we should have.

It is by no means coincidental that the contractors in question will be paid, and paid unsparingly, to develop these weapons.

In fact, these proposed new weapons would not be any more "useful" than the ones we already have. When all the analysis is done – and it has been done, if the senators care to look – the bottom line is this: there are only so many ways to blow up things and people. The so-called "new" designs are just versions of the same old ones, being promoted by many of the same old Cold War hawks, as it turns out. The so-called "robust nuclear earth-penetrating weapon" is not very different, either in design or potential effects, from a weapon the United States fielded for a few years in the 1950s. Everything is about this proposal is "retro."

"Ah yes," the proponents say, "you are basically right. That is exactly why we may need to resume nuclear testing in the future, in order to certify the performance of the really special new weapons that are, if our calculations prove correct, are just a little bit better." HELLO Senators, please pay attention. While nuclear testing is not needed for many nuclear weapon modifications, your endorsement of the idea of new weapons commits you and the nation to a course of action that will be difficult to control.

Just under the surface of the vote this week, still other questions brood, even more momentous. Nuclear weapons are a kind of weapon of mass destruction. Are they legitimate weapons of war? Is planning for their likely use – let's not kid ourselves about this – a net gain in security, or a loss?

And then there is another question: should this country abide by the treaties it has signed and ratified, in particular the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), in which we promised to negotiate nuclear disarmament in return for a binding international norm against nuclear proliferation? Or is searching for the "winning weapon" more important now?

The senators won't vote explicitly on these questions, of course. But if they give a green light to new nuclear weapons and new factories, the answers will be plain enough. Then, once solidified in obligations to contractors and employees – set in concrete, as they say – it will be very hard for anyone to change them.

Getting "buy-in," with modest projects at first, is the strategy within the nuclear strategy that is being proposed. Surely the senators understand this. Or do they?

These proposals would implement a central part of the Bush Administration's "Nuclear Posture Review." This strategy insists on new nuclear weapons capabilities, which is to be integrated with military planning and targeting around the world. For the first time, nuclear weapons would become a part of day-to-day planning for battles against non-nuclear adversaries. These so-called "nuclear strike" capabilities would be integrated with proposed new missile defenses, and both of these with conventional "power projection" forces. To support this "new triad" of military force, it says we need a "revitalized [nuclear weapons production] infrastructure that will provide new capabilities in a timely fashion to meet emerging threats."

Up to now, the senators have been somewhat in the dark, or in denial, about the purpose of the huge infrastructure upgrades they are starting to authorize. Now that the purpose of this "revitalized infrastructure" has been made crystal clear, will they authorize it? Much of the funding is already in place; funding has been growing since 1995. And in the highly-militarized mental environment of post-9/11 Washington, much of it seems beyond debate.

All that's needed now is the authorization to proceed, in whole, or in part. That's where Senator Bingaman and his colleagues come in.

Throughout his career, Senator Bingaman has used his position to support virtually every nuclear weapons project that has been put before him, and then some. On September 25 of last year, only a few days after the 9/11 tragedy, he introduced a floor amendment that aimed at increasing the nuclear weapons budget by a whopping $339 million, $492 million above the Bush request. The bill failed, but it sent the desired signal. The final nuclear weapons budget was close to what

Senator Bingaman proposed.

Now the Senator must again choose the level of support he gives to weapons of mass destruction. And this time it is a little different – crucially different. Will he utter a clear policy that provides direction to the labs, which for so long have been providing their own direction? Will he passively endorse new nuclear military capabilities, or will he actively and effectively seek to prohibit them? Will he ask for specific line item control for prototyping and field testing, lest

Congress lose control over weapons development altogether? Or will he insert some vague language that seems, on the surface, to satisfy everyone, but which meanwhile allows weapons development to proceed without embarrassing publicity? Senator Bingaman, you have to choose.

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Action Alert #15 (4/02/02)
Understanding President Bush’s Nuclear Strategy

Dear friends and colleagues --

SUMMARY: The President's new proposed nuclear strategy calls for new nuclear weapons, new nuclear weapons factories, and greatly lowers the threshold for nuclear use in Third-World battles. Most of the nation's news media reported this strategy as one of "disarmament," but when the actual plan began to leak out, the world learned it was about ARMAMENT, not disarmament. Hundreds of shocked headlines appeared all over the world, although reporting in NM was muted.

The plan itself can be seen in redacted form at

The Natural Resources Defense Council's early critique can be seen at

Further background information is provided below. In the future, this and more will be available on our web site (

It is imperative that Democrats in Congress question this crazed and destructive plan. We need help from our Congressman Tom Udall and our Senator Jeff Bingaman. Both are reportedly concerned about aspects of this plan but neither has joined in any practical efforts to stop the momentum toward renewed nuclearism.

It is very important that these elected officials understand the need for a clear response on matters of such high principle and profound import and retain popular support. Once created, these proposed new nuclear weapons, new factories, and new strike plans will, without doubt, eventually be used.

Specifically, we need Mssrs. Udall and Bingaman to publicly and forcefully affirm their opposition to:

* any battlefield nuclear weapon use (a central idea in the Bush plan);

* DESIGNING, not just making, any new kinds of nuclear weapons (the Bush plan does both);

* placing the nuclear test site in Nevada in higher stages of readiness for testing (Bush wants a very short "nuclear fuse");

* abrogation of arms control treaties like the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty (a ratified treaty; U.S. abrogation will be effective June 13) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (signed but not ratified; the Bush plan assumes an option to test at any time); and

* any other aspects of the Bush plan you may find particularly repellent.

What is needed is for the Democrats in Congress to reject the plan in its entirety, based as it is on unilateral treaty abrogation and planned massive violations of the laws of war.

Letters are more effective than calls, although they may be delayed by increased screening; office visits are effective. But calls are still helpful, and emails MAY be taken more seriously than in the past. Contact information is provided here:

Senator Jeff Bingaman
703 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Congressman Tom Udall
502 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

OR for Visits

Senator Jeff Bingaman
119 E. Marcy St. Suite 101
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Congressman Tom Udall
811 St. Michael's Drive, Suite 104
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Other NM office addresses for Mssrs. Udall and Bingaman can be found at: and

BACKGROUND: "Back to the Nuclear Future"

On December 31, 2001, the Bush Administration delivered to Congress its nuclear weapons strategy, called the "Nuclear Posture Review." On January 9, the press was briefed on the plan. In keeping with nuclear tradition, very few details were provided; the briefing confined itself to broad ideas and opaque terminology. But by mid-February, the first details of the actual plan began to leak out, first to the Natural Resources Defense Council and later to major newspapers. The devil, as it turned out, is in the details. And what an active fellow that devil turns out to be!

The Bush nuclear strategy was pitched - and largely reported - as "new thinking" that would allow the U.S. to reduce its nuclear stockpile from about 10,650 warheads and bombs today to somewhere between 1,700 to 2,200 in ten years. But the Bush plan doesn't actually involve real stockpile reductions. Despite the headlines, total U.S. warheads are to be reduced by only 6% over ten years, or less than 1% per year. This is because only one warhead type would be actually dismantled – the decades-old W62 warhead currently mounted on Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, previously slated for elimination but temporarily reprieved when congressional Republicans scuttled ratification of the START II treaty.

Other than the W62, all the "reductions" in the plan are like Enron debts, moved to subsidiaries with different names. Warheads taken from the category of 'operational deployment' will be either re-designated the "responsive force," or placed in the "strategic inactive stockpile." There they will mostly remain intact and available for active re-deployment at any time, in some cases within weeks, depending upon the weapon in question. All these weapons could be re-deployed when desired, which is the precise reason they are being kept. The Enron-style accounting doesn't stop there, however. Aside fromassembled nuclear weapons, the U.S. also has in reserve thousands of components, including plutonium "pits," the nuclear cores of weapons. Some 5,000 "strategic reserve" pits, and possibly thousands more, are now stored near Amarillo, Texas, where they are available for ready remanufacture into a number of pre-tested weapon designs. Taken together, the total number of nuclear warheads and bombs potentially available under the Bush plan is closer to 15,000 than the "1,700 to 2,200" figure that was successfully sold to gullible journalists.

The gravest dangers of the Bush nuclear strategy, however, do not lie in its numerical sleight-of-hand. They lie instead in its pursuit of new nuclear weapons capabilities - both weapons and the infrastructure to quickly make them - and in a newly-serious, bloody-minded policy that would justify their use in battles around the world.

The Bush team calls its strategy the "New Triad." It integrates nuclear strike forces with missile defenses, both of these with conventional power projection forces, and supports all these with a "revitalized [nuclear] infrastructure that will provide new capabilities in a timely fashion to meet emerging threats."

Put simply, this nuclear strategy aims to integrate nuclear weapons more tightly into the military with a variety of new roles, including and especially nuclear war-fighting. The plan gives specific examples of situations in which nuclear weapons might be used, and sets a new, very low, threshold for considering a nuclear strike. The plan calls for the development of new kinds of nuclear weapons, such as better earth-penetrating weapons and "agent defeat" weapons designed to incinerate biological and chemical warfare agents. Advanced concept teams to design these and other weapons are to be started at the nuclear weapons laboratories.

Since some of these new designs will require nuclear testing, the Posture Review requires the Nevada test site be readied to conduct new nuclear tests (which would violate the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty) with only a few months' lead time, faster than Congress' response time. It will not be inconvenient, for those who wish to resume nuclear testing, if other countries (e.g. China) follow our lead Projecting a need for nuclear weapons and their delivery systems at least fifty years hence, the plan calls for new, expanded and upgraded nuclear weapon production plants to make and maintain nuclear weapons, as one senior Department of Energy official put it, "forever."

In the Clinton administration, a cloud of deception lay over the varied purposes of what the Department of Energy calls its "stockpile stewardship" program. Most Democrats, anxious to placate the labs, couldn't -- or wouldn't -- see notice that the expanded capabilities which make that program so expensive weren't actually needed to maintain existing U.S. nuclear weapons. But many of those capabilities, are quite possibly including nuclear testing, are needed to make the nuclear weapons different, and it is this strategy which the Bush team has brought out of the closet for the world to see.

The plan notes that to achieve the specificity and speed required for credible nuclear tactical warfare in a Third World setting, an array of ambitious new military capabilities with global reach is needed. Not only must new weapons be tailored and certified for new kinds of targets; better - much better -- targeting intelligence will also be required, both on the ground and in the skies; and very rapid strike planning capability will also be needed to support an evolving nuclear battlefield.

But with this level of detailed, on-the-ground, intelligence, and hence "presence," what, exactly, would be the military "value-added" of a nuclear strike -- even not considering the catastrophic consequences for non-proliferation, U.S. stature at home and abroad, homeland security, and more?

There are many such hard military questions, all unanswered in this plan. In fact, the plan appears to reflect more the budgetary needs of the nuclear weapons complex and the political needs of civilian ideologues than any coherent military strategy per se. Indeed the plan reads, in many places, as if the senior military officers who blessed it have been sold a bill of goods by enthusiastic weapons scientists and colonels, or by political actors who seek a posture of nuclear threat in order to buttress their aspirations of empire.

Does the military, and do members of Congress, know that "low-yield" nuclear weapons cannot penetrate the earth more than a certain, relatively small amount, for fundamental physical reasons which, because they depend upon physical law, cannot be transcended by research, however lucrative?

Do they know that the ability to destroy an underground leadership bunker with a small nuclear weapon, let alone an underground storehouse of biological or chemical weapons, is actually rather limited – whereas the damage to any surrounding population from even a very small nuclear weapon would be extensive, unpredictable, long-lasting, and devastating?

This is a security plan that needs a serious reality check, one which Democratic leaders of Congress, like Senator Bingaman, could and must provide.

In the late 1940s, our political and military leaders thought their monopoly on nuclear weapons gave them the "winning weapon," in historian Gregg Herken's memorable phrase. This ambition was frustrated by the Soviet Union's success at building its own nuclear weapons and, at terrible cost to its people, catching up -- and keeping up -- with the U.S. The superpower contest threatened the whole world, but may have helped prevent nuclear use by both nations.

The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union were a "near-death experience" for many nuclear weapons managers, ideologues, and war planners. The Bush strategy marks their return, with all the passion of the second chance. Lacking another superpower to help restrain them, this time we need to do it ourselves.

*** Please forward this alert to friends and relatives if you think they might be interested.

*** If you receive a forwarded alert and wish to receive these alerts, please let us know if together, we can make a big difference!

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Action Alert #14 (3/21/02)
NM Oversight of Los Alamos Labs

Dear friends and colleagues --

Suggested actions this week:

1. Attend the LANL oversight hearing on 3/26 and speak; and/or

2. Write or call to request that the NM Legislature start oversight of LANL pursuant to recent legislation.

1. On Tuesday, March 26, at beginning at 8:30 am in Room 322 of the State Capitol Building, California legislators with oversight responsibilities for LANL, as well as certain key New Mexico legislators, will hold a hearing to discuss LANL issues, including but not limited to labor issues.

There will be opportunity for public comment.

This is the "California Senate Select Committee for Oversight of the DOE National Laboratories Managed by the University of California."

The purpose of any of us going to this hearing is twofold. First, to show the NM legislative leadership (which will be present) that New Mexicans care about environmental, safety, and security issues at LANL, among others. This relates to the potential for a NM oversight committee for LANL, which might have the power to request environmental, safety, and other information, as well as the power to convene and accept testimony -- see #2.

Second, to show the CA leadership that there might some political liabilities or even possibly financial liabilities in New Mexico from pursuing nuclear weapons work. We all want more stringent oversight of LANL, and these senators, at least to some extent, hold the purse-strings for the University of California, which runs the weapons lab. If they chose, they could ask some tough questions.

2. During this past legislative session, Senate Joint Memorial 84 passed, enabling creation of a NM oversight committee for LANL. This committee will be created, however, without action by the leadership of both houses.

Please call Representative Ben Luhan, at 505-45-3354, and Senator Richard Romero, at 505-453-1986 (or email him at and ask them to appoint this committee

SOON. Citizens will be the workhorses for this committee, if it is created. Without significant interest, it will remain only a possibility that fades away.

It is important that this committee address environmental concerns CO-EQUALLY with other (e.g. labor) concerns. It is the combination of these issues which is most powerful. By working together we can bring some light into some very dark places.

For further information on either of these actions, call Lydia in the office at 982-7747.


Greg, Lydia, and Blake



*** Please forward this alert to friends and relatives if you think they might be interested.

*** If you receive a forwarded alert and wish to receive these alerts, please let us know! Together, we can make a big difference!

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Action Alert #13 (3/19/02)
Opportunities to stop LANL nuke dumping

Dear friends and colleagues --

*** Please forward this alert to friends and relatives if you think they might be interested.

*** If you receive a forwarded alert and wish to receive these alerts, please let us know! Together, we can make a big difference!


1a. We urge you to write a letter to the editor of any local newspaper, to help raise awareness of the existence of a large nuclear waste disposal site in our area, and to ask for an accounting to the public of this dump. For details, see under 2. below. An excellent guide to writing letters to the editor can be found on our web site at <>.

1b. If you would like to meet with Attorney General Patricia Madrid to ask her to follow up her office's requests to a) close Area G and b) hold public hearings on environmental remediation at LANL, please contact Lydia Clark in our office, at We'd like for Attorney General Madrid to meet with some of the citizens who are concerned about continued illegal waste disposal, and the lack of enforcement of environmental laws at LANL.

2. Report on our last alert: successful Sierra Club event. Our last Action Alert (#12) requested attendance at a public forum on the "Area G" nuclear waste disposal site in Los Alamos, which was hosted by the Pajarito Chapter of the Sierra Club (PC/SC).

Many people attended, including senior managers and attorneys from the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED). Some citizens drove from as far away as Albuquerque and other distant points. That kind of sacrifice made its moral force known during the evening in the passion of some of the presenters. We are grateful to NMED officials for their attendance.

The forum was a good one. While many people were understandably frustrated by what they felt were a little bias and occasional disrespect, the PC/SC should be thanked for holding the forum at all. Many or even most PC/SC members are, after all, employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), and Club members there cannot but have conflicts of interest as regards LANL. Opposing LANL could be a devastating social or career move.

Some people from Los Alamos in the audience were, I am sure, shocked to learn that their community has not just one (existing) but also FOUR (planned) new nuclear waste disposal sites planned, and that the total NEW nuclear waste expected to generated at Los Alamos and buried on the Plateau -- not counting the waste slated to be shipped to WIPP – comes to some 2.7 million drums' worth over the next 7 decades.

We have since learned that there is internal discussion about the validity of the "Performance Assessment" (PA) that has been used to justify operation of Area G, a site which contains "low-level," chemical, and transuranic (TRU) waste. The PA is rife with technical problems, so much so that one LANL scientist quietly agreed with the Study Group, saying, "That report's garbage," suggesting that its approval as a basis for operating Area G was strictly political. It's being revised, but it's going to be hard to write a defensible PA.

One of the biggest problems with DOE's analysis is that DOE assumes that "DOE or its equivalent" will retain control of Area G for the entire period of analysis, which is only 1,000 years, DOE's version of "forever" in this case. In our office, we have irreverently named this

particular hope the "Thousand-Year Reich." This is just about 4% of one half-life of plutonium.

WIPP, many may recall, was "certified" for 10,000 years only after an extensive public hearing process. Area G contains some of the same TRU waste that is destined for WIPP, and much else, including highly-mobile radioactive and chemical species. Tritium and organic solvent plumes have spread over much of the dump -- and a little beyond, in the case of tritium and plutonium at least. The wastes being buried are secret to all outside parties, and even the good souls who operate the dump accept internal waste manifests largely (if not totally) on the "honor system;" there is little or no waste characterization. WIPP will entomb waste in salt -- a questionable practice -- but here there is no containment for most of the waste. It is all buried under as little as 3 feet of sand. It is certified PRIVATELY, BY THE DOE ITSELF, with no accountable external oversight (if there is any at all), and for only 1,000 years, on the basis of questionable and in some cases contradictory assumptions, some of which were highlighted at the meeting. It borders Indian sacred land and is adjacent to one of the larger Indian ruins in the region. There have been no public hearings, in which the public could cross-examine government officials on the record. Although the Attorney General's office has said that operation of the current dump is illegal, NMED has taken no action to close it, or to call for any remedial action.

In short, nuclear waste disposal at Los Alamos is almost free of regulatory oversight.

While NMED waits to take action, DOE Headquarters is doing its best to slowly de-fund cleanup nationwide for the years to come. LANL is one of the lowest sites in the pecking order for funds. So far, NMED's Area G strategy appears to be to "punt" on its current enforcement opportunities, which provide strong authority, and instead rely on the more vague authority available under "cleanup" regulations, and consequently on the questionable availability of DOE "cleanup" monies in the distant out-years.

The DOE, according to its own reports, is generating less waste at Los Alamos than it did in the recent past. At the same time DOE expects, again according to its own reports, to generate more waste in the near future, as nuclear weapons programs like plutonium "pit" manufacturing start up. DOE officials have so far refused to "lock in" current "low" waste production rates, in order to retain administrative flexibility. ("Pits" are, basically, the cores of nuclear weapons. Rocky Flats made them for decades. It is costing billions to safely take down the buildings there. The land itself is not, at this point, likely to be remediated, despite years of DOE involvement with hard-working, expert local citizen groups who with DOE worked to set good-faith remediation standards." It's become too expensive. Money -- and lots of it – is now needed to build new nuclear weapons factories and design centers: There, in Oak Ridge, near Amarillo, in Albuquerque, and in South Carolina.)

For those wishing to write letters to the editor, further information is available in Action Alert #12, which we'd be happy to send upon request.

Again, thanks so much for all who have worked so hard to bring us to this point. Some hopeful signs are now appearing!

Greg, Lydia, and Blake

P.S. There will be two action alerts this week (there were none last week, so...)

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Action Alert #12 (2/28/02)
Forum on the Future of Local Nuke Dump

Dear friends and colleagues -–

There will be a forum on the future of the “Area G” nuclear waste dump on Wednesday, March 6, 2002, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm, at the Mesa Public Library in Los Alamos (at the corner of Central Avenue and Oppenheimer Drive, just past Fuller Lodge). The forum will be hosted by the Sierra Club Pajarito Chapter, which is trying to decide whether to endorse closure of the dump. The NM Sierra Club is highly likely to follow the recommendation of its Pajarito Chapter in this matter.

The "Area G" nuclear waste disposal site is located one mile west of White Rock, NM. It contains about 11 million cubic feet of chemical and nuclear waste in "permanent" disposal. DOE estimates that its disposal of radwaste at this site will continue at a rate of about 271,000 cubic feet per year for at least the next seven decades. This would amount to about 2.8 million drums' worth of nuclear waste; that's about about 110 drums’ worth per day, 365 days per year, for 70 years. PCBs are also still being disposed there. Of the waste to be added, less than 7% is from the lab "cleanup;" the rest is all to be brand-new waste, primarily from nuclear weapons design and component manufacturing, making the "Los Alamos cleanup program" kind of a sham.

The existing landfill footprint cannot come close to accommodating all this waste, so four new radwaste landfills are also currently planned at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Three are on the same mesa as Area G, which will just about fill it up completely. The fourth, which is to be much larger, is to be located to the south, closer to Bandelier National Monument.

Photos and maps of the dump and proposed expansion sites are available

at <>.

The Attorney General's office has written that Area G is being operated illegally and must close, but there has been no follow-up to their letter, either from them or from any other state official.

This is not STORAGE. It is DISPOSAL. Please do not be misled by LANL public relations flaks, who are willing to talk about the storage of waste on the surface of Area G, but are reluctant to discuss what has been, and still is being, disposed BELOW the surface.

More than 2,000 citizens have purchased letter-cans as part of the Study Group's “Can-Paign” asking for Area G to be closed; 27 environmental organizations have also petitioned the NM Environment Department (NMED) to close the dump. Governor Johnson and NMED have made no substantive response to date to any of these requests.

DOE does not believe it can consider any alternatives to the uncontained, on-site disposal of nuclear waste in unlined shallow pits and shafts. (Translation: alternatives which could better protect the environment are not in the current budget.)

The waste being disposed is so-called "low-level nuclear waste," but this misleading moniker conceals the fact that some of it contains plutonium, that some of it is so very radioactive that it cannot be transported on public highways in ANY kind of container, that some of it contains lots of tritium and tritiated water, and so on. Area G contains a wide range of wastes, including spent nuclear fuel, old nuclear reactors, tens or possibly hundreds of kilos of plutonium, etc. The nearby vegetation already contains tritium; plutonium already has begun to wash off the dump surface into arroyos draining the site. A deep well just east of the site already shows the presence of technetium, a LANL contaminant. Springs far the east, next to the Rio Grande, have begun to display sporadic perchlorate contamination, also from the lab. It is not believed that these groundwater contaminants are from the dump -- not yet -- but the eventual total loss of containment from the earthen trench walls and sandy fill on top of the waste is certain. Aside from the waste now being buried, Area G is essentially a historic "WIPP site," at which the same waste now being shipped to WIPP was once permanently buried. Much of it remains, and unless there is a formal closure process, that waste will stay there until it leaks out. It is only a few feet below the surface, and has no lasting containment or barriers whatsoever.

We believe there is little prospect of negotiating real cleanup of any of the other 27 dump sites at LANL, or the 1,000+ other contaminated sites, as long as unregulated nuclear waste disposal continues at the same facility.

The evening is sure to produce some excellent dialogue, and your participation in that dialogue would be extremely helpful across a range of issues, both overt and unspoken. Other organizations requesting closure of Area G will be there as well. A good turnout would be helpful in showing that people want the laws against unpermitted disposal, and which require closure of old toxic waste dump sites like this one, to be enforced.

Please come if you can!

Greg, Lydia, and Blake, for the Study Group

P.S. Many people are concerned about President Bush's agenda for the military -- and for our society. Many of you know that the quiet studies into new kinds of nuclear weapons that have been going on for the past decade are now being brought closer to the front burner in this year's DOE budget request.

This, too, is precisely what this meeting is about. Can our government run rough-shod over environmental laws, operating a huge dump for ultra-long-lived nuclear waste right next to a tourist destination for most of the rest of this century, all in the pell-mell pursuit of more and better weapons of mass destruction, the very possession of which the U.S. has long agreed to renounce? Does this make sense in any way? If we New Mexicans will swallow another 2.8 million drums' worth of nuclear waste -- WASTE THAT HAS NOT YET EVEN BEEN GENERATED -- we will swallow about anything. Yet even a modest effort could really turn this situation around! We CAN withdraw our permission to turn even ONE of our beautiful mountains into little more than a pile of nuclear waste, perched high above the Rio Grande!

P.P.S. We will try to send you one action alert per week, which will be numbered for reference as above. Most will request only a phone call or a post card. They all will have this in common: if you take the action suggested, just one action per week, your effort will join with that of others to make a meaningful and important contribution to protecting our land and our life. Action Alert 11- 2/08/2002-Important Legislation Pending in the NM Congress Dear colleagues and friends --

1. Thanks to all who came to the chilly 8:00 am demonstration at the Capitol last Friday February 1), and the packed-house "hearing" that followed! In that hearing, several of our state legislators, including Senator Manny Aragon and Representative Ben Luhan, came to see the depth of interest among LANL workers and the community in some sort of legislative oversight at LANL. Special thanks also to those who worked on the beautiful banner and signs, or who made phone calls encouraging folks to come! The upshot is that there is now a joint memorial in the works to provide a degree of legislative oversight of Los Alamos (see SJM 84, below). "You must fight for the laws as you would fight for the city wall." - Heraclitus

We need your help with specific bills now pending in the legislature. There are three of these, all of which may rise or fall according to the degree of expressed public interest. Calls are good, is its to legislative offices are also good -- leave a note that indicates which way you want them to vote. Faxes also work - indicate the Senator or Representative by name, and say "for immediate delivery." There is only one main fax number: 986-4610. All legislation can be read on-line by going to , using the "bill Finder" button, and typing in the kind and number of the legislation. The NM legislative home page will also give you committee members' names and phone numbers.

If you call, call right away -- no one can tell when votes will occur on these bills. Here are the bills.

A. House Joint Memorial 64 - "Requesting the Department of Environment to Study and Make Recommendations for Proposed Legislation on Environmental Covenants." Vote NO. This memorial passed the House by a vote of 60-0. We strongly oppose this bill and would like your help to defeat it. Here's why.

This memorial gives an outline of a trendy philosophy for future environmental legislation, which would give NMED the latitude to avoid enforcement and cleanup in a potentially unlimited number of situations. It would be a serious attack on the state's environmental laws, and the passage of this memorial next week would "bless" these ideas, direct NMED to develop legislation to implement them, and greatly increase the likelihood of their future passage. HJM 64 calls for legislation to give NMED actual ownership of "pollution easements" on contaminated real estate. No means of funding the new responsibilities, or ensuring their managerial success, is suggested.

The basic idea behind HJM 64 is to transfer to public ownership the “pollution aspect” of contaminated land, through creation of pollution “easements,” while retaining in the private sector the other aspects of land ownership, now freed of all liability -- past, present and future -- for pollution. Once liability for contamination is alienated from the land through this mechanism, it could more easily be sold. If federally-owned, federal cleanup responsibilities and potential federal liabilities for resource damages, now potentially payable to states and tribes, could be brought to a permanent and very convenient end.

In effect, the idea is to give the pollution -- legally and formally -- to New Mexico. With the "granting" of "pollution easements" to state -- and inevitably also to local -- governments, risks and costs are moved to the state sector; liquidity and profits are enhanced in the private sector, and management flexibility and freedom from liability would be provided to federal polluters.

HJM 64 and its potentially monstrous offspring have the strong potential to normalize failure in environmental cleanup, and hence to encourage scofflaw behavior, even at the stage of planning for a future enterprise -- say, a future hazardous waste site (see the next bill, below). It raises strong concerns about equity of enforcement, and could lead to a call for relaxation of agency enforcement at other NM sites – a “race to the bottom.” It could, and probably would, undercut the pollution prevention aspect of several statues, reversing decades of legislative work.

Still another troublesome aspect of HJM 64 is that it would foster “risk-based cleanups.” Cleanups are already “risk-based;” what this memorial wants is more site-specific risk analyses. This is done now to a great extent; going much further in this direction could mean, in effect, setting standards and requirements anew for each site, a labor that is at once expensive, unequal (larger sites, with more consultants and more political power, can have lower standards), opaque to all meaningful participation by the public and other affected businesses (e.g. competitors), and a virtual setup for arbitrary and capricious agency action.

HJM 64 is the perfect foundation for future pollution, and it would be a good idea to kill it now.

The Johnson Administration NMED likes this legislation, but the ideas in it are also in favor with many democrats as well, unfortunately.

This bill has two committee referrals: Senate Rules and Senate Conservation. Calls should be made to committee members to ask them to vote "NO" on HJM 64. Here are the committee member names and numbers:

Senate Rules Committee:

Linda Lopez, Chair 986-4737; Room 300C
Phil Griego, Vice Chair 986-4267, Room 414A
Rod Adair 986-4385, Room 416D
Dianna Duran 986-4260, Room 416E
Ramsay Gorham 986-4260, Room 416E
Don Kidd 986-4393, Room 415B
Roman Maes 986-4856, Room 300A
Cynthia Nava 986-4834, Room 328C
Richard Romero 986-4733, Room 105

Senate Conservation Committee:

Carlos Cisneros, Chair 986-4861, Room 328B
Richard Martinez, Vice Chair 986-4389, Room 414D
Kent Cravens 986-4861, Room 415A
Dianna Duran 986-4369, Room 416F
Phil Griego 986-4267, Room 414A
Carroll Leavell 986-4278, Room 415C
Linda Lopez 986-4737, Room 300C
William Payne 986-4276, Room 415H
Nancy Rodriguez 986-4264, Room 301A

B. Senate Joint Memorial 31 - "Requesting the Secretary of Environment to Develop Legislation to Provide for Impact Analyses of Waste Disposal Activities." Vote YES. This barely passed out of the Senate Rules Committee and has two more committee referrals on the Senate side: Public Affairs and Conservation. It must pass these two and then pass the Senate legislative body as a whole, and then go through the same process in the House. There is not much time left in the session. Most environmental groups are in support of this memorial. The NMED will offer neither support nor opposition. There is opposition from hazardous waste management companies and their lobbyists, as well as DOE contractors. Currently, the law does not provide for impact analyses of waste disposal facilities, finance of emergency response, or financial assurance for closure/post-closure care. Please call the respective committee members and ask them to support SJM 31!

Senate Public Affairs Committee:

Dede Feldman, Chair 986-4482, Room 414C
Mary Jane Garcia, Vice Chair 986-4726, Room 120B
Rod Adair 986-4385, Room 416D
Mark Boitano 986-4366, Room 416B
Allen Hurt 986-4373, Room 415I
SteveKomadina 986-4377, Room 416C
Mary Kay Papen 986-4270, Room 300B
Richard Romero 986-4733, Room 105
Bernadette Sanchez 986-4267, Room 414B

Senate Conservation is listed above.

C. Senate Joint Memorial 84 - "Requesting the NM Legislative Council to Create A Joint Legislative Committee for Los Alamos National Laboratory Oversight That Can Participate in Appointing a Citizens Advisory Committee and Meet With the California Senate Select Committee For Oversight of the Department of Energy Laboratories Operated by the University of California." This passed out of the Senate on February 6, by a slim vote (20/16). The house has received it but as of this message we have no information as to committee referrals. This memorial is the result of many of you attending what was supposed to be the California Select Oversight Committee meeting on Friday, February 1st. The California legislators, as well as DOE, LANL, and UC did not have any representative at that meeting and the public asked that at the very least an oversight committee from NM legislators and a citizen’s advisory committee be appointed. Please call Leadership in the House and ask them to Vote YES - Support SJM 84!

House of Representatives Leadership:

Speaker of the House office, Representative Ben Lujan - 986-4782, Room 104
Majority Floor Leader, Danice Picraux - 986-4777, Room 134B
Majority Whip, James G. Taylor - 986-4774, Room 134A
Minority Floor Leader, Ted Hobbs - 986-4757, Room 125B
Minority Whip, Earlene Roberts -986-4758, Room 125A

Questions or comments should be directed to Lydia Clark in our office, 982-7747,

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Action Alert #10 (1/24/02)
Update: chance to influence discussion and debate about Environmental Impact of Labs

Dear colleagues --

1. Update: Monday's public meeting in the Capitol Rotunda about closing the big "Area G" nuke dump and holding public hearings was a success. Thank you to those who came!

In a related action, the NM Attorney General's office wrote a letter the next day requesting public hearings on the lab's environmental contamination, echoing our concerns. Stay tuned! Your work is having results!

2. Action Alert: Please come to the State Capitol on Friday, February 1, at 8:00 am, when the California state senate panel with oversight responsibility for Los Alamos will be there. These California legislators will hear from the lab directors and the arranged witnesses, as they always do, about how Los Alamos is wonderful, how much it benefits New Mexico, etc. But these legislators DO in fact know that the natives and the workers are a bit restless, and it would be very valuable to reinforce this message in many ways.

There is going to be a pro-forma public comment period, but it is only a few minutes long.

Many of you know that it is the University of California (UC) which has operated all of Los Alamos, including its hundreds of outfalls and disposal sites, since its inception. UC is now quite possibly the largest weapons of mass destruction (WMD) contractor in the world. These facts are not something that is going to be discussed by the lab directors and their representatives except in vague ("national defense") platitudes.

As far as the environment goes, it is UC, along with the Department of Energy (DOE), which a) refuses to close Area G, and b) substantially decides what is to be cleaned up (very little) and what is not (almost everything).

If you want to help us organize this event, contact Lydia Clark in our office, at 982-7747 or via email ( Join with your friends! Bring your ideas!

>>>>[More details, and why this is important]<<<<

"Even if you're on the right track you'll get run over if you just sit there." –Will Rogers

This past Monday, Martin Luther King Day, the Study Group held a press conference in the Capitol Rotunda, which some of you attended. Attorney General Patricia Madrid and Secretary Pete Maggiore of the Environment Department came, along with news media and our allies and colleagues. The purpose of the conference was again to request closure of northern New Mexico's big nuclear waste dump ("Area G"), and to call for public hearings on the cleanup of the more than 1,000 contaminated sites at Los Alamos.

It was a slow-to-be-revealed success, we think.

At the conference, Pete Maggiore tried to avoid answering the same basic questions we have been asking him and his staff for about two years now in several detailed meetings involving him and his top deputies, instead saying he didn't know, he wasn't provided advance copies of questions, etc. He also tried to change the Area G closure question into a "permitting" question. This was highly misleading, since there is no permit application for Area G or any intent on the part of the lab to apply. All he offered, besides a generally-dismissive attitude -- was some sort of vague "public comment" opportunity in the future on something-or-other, the exact nature of which was not specified. He did not acknowledge any legal requirement to receive comment on any of his proposed decisions regarding LANL -- nor, by implication, did he acknowledge any legal requirement to respond to those comments.

The response of the AG's office was different. The day after the press conference (i.e. on 1/22/02), AG Madrid's office issued a letter to NMED requesting public hearings on the LANL cleanup, citing applicable legal authority, and echoing many of our concerns.


But why, a person might reasonably ask, is stopping nuclear dumping and cleaning up LANL important?

It is important first of all because the environment is at risk. As we said at the press conference and in the last alert, the volume of nuclear waste now planned to be disposed at LANL over the next seven decades exceeds that buried there over the lab's first 58 years. Another way of saying this is this: during the course of the "cleanup plan" being offered by NMED (which doesn't really ask for cleanup at all, in any case), the Pajarito Plateau will actually become far "dirtier," in the sense that the total volume of nuclear waste buried in shallow unlined pits will increase dramatically, than it is now.

And this is happening because the NMED is just flat ignoring federal and state environmental law.

Can we sue DOE, or NMED, to gain compliance? You bet we can. But lawsuits alone can't produce social and political reform or change. They can only express what has already been established politically. That process itself, the struggle, is the way values are created in society and subsequently interpreted by judges. Especially these days, it's all too easy to "win" a legal battle at great cost, in some narrow technical sense, and then lose the larger struggle. Lawsuits, in other words, can be good, but they are never enough.

The waste in question, with few exceptions, comes from, and symbolizes, programs whose purpose you probably (since you are on this list) abhor. Los Alamos lab, whose WMD budget has risen to unprecedented heights in the last few years, is not at all under democratic control. The responsible committees in Congress have little to no idea of what goes on here; one key committee chair did not, until a private briefing was provided to him, even know where the various sites in the nuclear weapons complex are.

This lab nevertheless serves, as it expresses, the powers that create structural violence in our society, and it helps extend that violence around the world, overshadowing all military and political interactions of the United States with the penumbra of ultimate violence and creating outcomes more favorable to the U.S and to our perceived "interests." That is not just our idea of the way nuclear weapons are used today -- that is exactly how key policy documents sometimes read.

Anyone who cares about injustice, or who is concerned about globalization and its consequences, or who cares about violence in society here at home, cannot but be concerned with the nuclear weapons industry. Its widespread environmental effects, both here and in other states, are a significant part, but only a part, of the problem. They are also a symptom of more, the tip of an iceberg that is very, very cold.

And of course it's our problem. It's part of the particular spiritual and cultural test that we have been given as a state and as a people. Any concern about injustice which does not build on and incorporate a principled and public rejection of the very engines of global injustice that we create and harbor right here in our community rings very hollow indeed. Our silence, if we are silent, is taken for assent, and that silence will hurt our society in other ways as well.

So please give us a call!

Let's show that we stand with the mountains and with the streams that we stand on the side of life!

Let's show that we have hope, that we can be a state in which important laws are not bypassed so that out-of-state corporations can collect fat federal fees making weapons of mass destruction, all the while despoiling our environment!

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those of us who profess to favor freedom yet depreciate agitation are men who want the crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters... This struggle may be a moral one or a physical one, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without
demand. It never has and never will. .... The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose." "Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have
the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them."

-Frederick Douglass

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Action Alert #9 (1/18/02)
Come to the Press Conference at the State Capitol

Dear colleagues and friends –

Today we learned that NM Attorney General Patsy Madrid, with a Division Director and the cognizant staff attorney, will be attending our press conference on Monday at 4:30 pm in the Rotunda of the State Capitol.

Environment Department Secretary Pete Maggiore will also attend. Key state legislators have been invited, along with the 27 environmental organizations that requested closure of the Area G nuclear dump; a few of these organizations may be able to attend.

Your attendance is especially important at this event. The hard work of many people over the past summer, fall, and winter has truly begun to get the attention of the people who have the power to close Area G, which is not just about nuclear waste dumping, but also tacit acceptance of the weapons of mass destruction that generate the waste.

Please come if you can! Bring your friends and family!

In solidarity and hope,

Greg, Lydia, and Blake

P.S. We have just learned that in 2000, DOE estimated that, over the next 70 years of nuclear weapons design, testing, and manufacturing, LANL will add about 20 million more cubic feet of nuclear waste to the inventory permanently buried at LANL. The purpose of this work and this waste: to adapt U.S. nuclear weapons to new "war-fighting" uses. Ugh! It doesn't have to be like that!

Where: The Capitol Rotunda
When: Monday, January 21, 4:30 pm
What: Press conference, informal get-together, and public meeting regarding 1) closure of the Area G nuclear landfill, and 2) the need for public hearings on cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

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Action Alert #8 (1/17/02)
Event at State Capitol- Press Release

Dear colleagues and friends –

Please join us, if you can, at the State Capitol on Monday, and help end nuclear waste disposal in northern New Mexico.
Please forward this message to your friends. If they wish to receive these occasional alerts, please email a request to us.

Where: The Capitol Rotunda
When: Monday, January 21, 4:30 pm
What: Press conference, informal get-together, and public meeting regarding 1) closure of the Area G nuclear landfill, and 2) the need for public hearings on cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

Chat with legislators, NM Environment Department officials, your friends, and various environmentally-friendly folks about why we need to stop nuclear waste disposal here.

Send a clear signal that the unregulated and blatantly illegal disposal of tens of thousands of drums' worth of nuclear waste in our region is not something we want -- or, for that matter, will tolerate.

Hear a short presentation of what's going on, and why this should have stopped years ago, and hear officials respond, probably suggesting we should just wait a few more years for...what was that, exactly?

See big maps and photos of the contaminated sites.

Maybe, order your own cool CD of detailed LANL maps of contaminated spots if you like.

It's not just about the environment, of course. Massive environmental violence is obviously connected to the weapons of mass destruction that create the waste, and to the violence, both overt and structural in the society that embraces them. They come -- and could go, if ask clearly enough -- together.


On Tuesday 1/15, Study Group co-conspirators Lydia Clark, Greg Mello, and Dave Bacon delivered a letter signed by 27 prominent New Mexico environmental organizations to Secretary Pete Maggiore of the NM Environment Department (NMED), requesting an end to the disposal of nuclear waste in Los Alamos.

This letter, which will be posted at, is the organizational counterpart to the citizens' "Can-Paign." The press release summarizing this letter is attached below.

The NMED has no intention of closing this nuclear dump (called "Area G"), and instead has issued a meaningless "cleanup" plan for LANL -- one which does not mandate cleanup for years to come, if ever -- and has now solicited public comment on it.

DOE, meanwhile, speculates in a relatively-recent report that the ultimate volume of nuclear waste "cleaned up" at LANL will be only about one-fifteenth of the volume of NEW nuclear waste generated and disposed at LANL over the next 70 years. The much-ballyhooed "cleanup" being purchased -- mostly, it is just being investigated -- at a cost (so far) of about $600 million, is in other words, just a small fraction of the planned contamination.

The "comment period" on this "plan" began just before Christmas and will end on Monday, January 21, after the meeting in the Rotunda.

To add insult to injury, NMED says this "comment period" is not really a comment period. They say there is no legal requirement to listen to the public, and that's why we put this phrase in quotation marks. Eight organizations wrote NMED requesting a public hearing on this matter, but were rebuffed. I am sorry to tell you this, but it is almost certain that and substantive public comments will be ignored by the NMED.

What is needed, instead of this charade, is 1) a public hearing on the cleanup plan, which must include, at the barest minimum, 2) a halt to further dumping.

We suggest you call Congressman's Udall's office (505-984-8950), asking for his help in obtaining these two ends.

Further information can be found at

Greg Mello and Lydia Clark

P.S. The Can-Paign has also been a great success, with over 2,000 cans purchased, signed, and delivered to the Governor requesting 1) an end to nuclear waste disposal in northern New Mexico and 2) public hearings regarding what to do with the more than 1,000 contaminated sites at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Press Advisory 11/13/02; embargoed until Tuesday 11/14/02 at 9:00 am

NM Environmental Organizations Ask State to Halt Illegal Nuclear Waste
Disposal at Los Alamos, Close Dump

Contact: Lydia Clark or Greg Mello, 505-982-7747

Santa Fe – Tomorrow at 9:00 am a letter from 27 New Mexico environmental organizations will be delivered to Secretary Pete Maggiore of the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), requesting him to close “Area G,” northern New Mexico’s only operating nuclear waste disposal
site. The letter will be delivered to Secretary Maggiore’s office on the 4th floor of the Harold Runnels Building, at the corner of Alta Vista St. and St. Francis Drive.

For a copy of the full text of the letter, please call or email.
Copies will be available tomorrow morning as well.

This letter complements the 1,900 “letter-cans” from individuals already delivered to Governor Johnson, which requested closure of Area G as well as public hearings on the broader issue of contamination at Los Alamos and whether it will ever be cleaned up (see next headline,
below). These letters were delivered on cans of food dressed up to look like little waste drums; each participant paid $3.00 to deliver this message in such a noticeable way. (The food cans have been taken, after each delivery, to the Food Depot, where they serve a few of New Mexico’s poor – a group of folks which has not noticeably benefited from the activities that make the nuclear waste.)

Another 125 such letter-cans will be delivered to Secretary Maggiore tomorrow.

The legal and technical issues outlined in the letter are discussed in two attachments found on subsequent pages of this press advisory, and background material on the landfill is available at

On July 12, 2001 the New Mexico Attorney General’s office requested closure of this site. There has been no response from state environmental officials.

The organizations requesting closure are:

Albuquerque San Jose Community Awareness Council, Inc.
Albuquerque Peace & Justice Center
Amigos Bravos
Center for Biological Diversity - New Mexico Office
Citizen Action of Albuquerque
Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety
El Rio Arriba Environmental Health Association
Forest Guardians
First Nations North and South Forest Guardians
Gila Resources Information Project
Green Party of NM
Los Alamos Study Group
Native Forests Network
Natural Resources Defense Council
Nizhoni School for Global Consciousness
New Mexico Conservation Voters Alliance
New Mexico Toxics Coalition
Nuclear Watch of New Mexico
1000 Friends of New Mexico
Resting in the River
Southwest Energy Institute
Southwest Organizing Project
Southwest Research & Information Center
Tonantzin Land Institute
Water Information Network
Wild Watershed

In A Related Matter

Eight environmental organizations (call for list)requesting public hearings on the cleanup plan for Los Alamos National Laboratory were rebuffed by Secretary Pete Maggiore on 12/12/01. NMED has never held a public hearing on the cleanup plan, on which somewhere between $550 and $750 million of federal funds has so far been spent. Little actual cleanup, observers agree, has been accomplished. On 12/21/01, NMED opened a “public comment” period on this year’s version of the plan, adding the proviso that NMED was not actually obligated, in so many words, to read the comments received. The document or documents opened for comment, which are available on the Hazardous Waste Bureau web site, are no more intelligible than the letter announcing the “comment period.” Further information can be found at

^ back to top 2901 Summit Place NE Albuquerque, NM 87106, Phone: 505-265-1200, Fax: 505-265-1207