Bulletin #105: Partial update, new resources, and request
for your financial support
December 17, 2010
Bulletin 103a (11/29/10, now
renumbered 104 on our web site) was a request to attend a Santa Fe County
Commission meeting and to otherwise work with NM local government to
secure a new environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed
$5-6 billion (B) plutonium complex at Los Alamos. Delivery of
that bulletin was delayed 3 days by our list server -- it came to you
two days after the meeting in question. The good news is that Santa
Fe County unanimously requested a new EIS for the project!
Dear friends, colleagues, and others --
Email is an
unsatisfactory basis for political action, for all sorts of reasons
that shouldn't need too much explanation. These are not
ordinary times. We need more than this very impersonal medium
to discuss, formulate, and carry out the work of preserving our
communities and their environment.
I and others here
would like to speak to more of you personally. That
can't happen unless we each make a significant personal effort.
All we can do in this Bulletin, like the ones which have
preceded it, is to invite you into fruitful, face-to-face dialogue
you read this Bulletin and find it useful, please forward it to
people you think will find it useful, and recommend that they subscribe.
The only way names are added to this list is by people subscribing
Some of you have taken advantage of our
offers to speak and lead discussions in your church, college
classroom, or other group; some of you have come to our public
events, social happenings, and more intimate working sessions, or
joined us in speaking or in silent witness as the occasion has
offered. We have enjoyed the solidarity; it has also been
One of the features of our cultural
situation is that, unbeknownst to many, it has become difficult to
convene meetings. "Difficult" translates into
expensive, which means unaffordable. Face-to-face meetings with
groups of people have become rare and precious, as economic hardship
and other factors drive people into solitude and the apolitical
(Greek: "idiotic") life. Meetings and "events"
are quietly becoming the province of the monied classes who can
afford expensive venues, and this has had a highly-deleterious effect
on content. The cult of celebrity and the often-unconscious
expectation of entertainment have all but replaced politics, leaving
the hollow shell of "elections" manipulated by vast sums of
money and the propaganda it buys.
considerations and many others lie behind our request to you to
convene groups of your friends, or take the social risks involved in
broaching the serious topics we have raised at your church or in
other organizations to which you may belong. Invite us
-- we will come. We are seeing a dramatic decline of
politically-relevant sophistication and knowledge in our communities,
to levels far below what can sustain democracy.
Alamos Study Group comprises a highly-knowledgeable and committed
"truth squad." Our staff and board have about 200
years of combined experience in activism, public policy, and the
sciences, and have considerable depth in relevant disciplines.
We're not into propaganda or using people.
Just so you
know, these bulletins go to about 1,800 people, but few of these are
really active. We have to be careful about what we say because
some of our readers seek to thwart our efforts, and for other
reasons. The diversity of views and situations on this list is
enormous. We can't convey but a tiny, shallow fraction of what
we have to offer on this list. We are here to serve you,
whether you are in government or in our communities. You
have to ask.
There is a
great deal of news and activity to report to you, but before doing
that I must ask again for your financial support. Many
of you are already standing with us, which is why we have so much
progress to report. THANK YOU. A relatively easy way to amplify your support
is to talk us up with possible donors and friends. In
New Mexico for sure, and presumably elsewhere, there is very little
difference between fundraising and political organizing. If
people of means aren't willing to put their money where their hopes
lie, those hopes tend to disappear -- for everybody. New Mexico
is a small state, and Kevin
Bacon's six degrees of separation is usually more like two or
One of the principal features of our time --
being past the peak of our global empire and the riches that go with
it, past peak oil, peak disposable time, peak democracy, peak
climate, peak water, and so on -- is that our unconscious
assumption that somebody else is taking care of whatever it is, is
now more likely to be wrong than ever before. Now, if each
of us doesn't act, it's quite possible nobody will. Where so
many have left the field, large outcomes are contingent on small
actions. If we do act, others will join in, including powerful
others. Many of us who are not used to leading and taking the
first steps now have to pick up the burden of leadership and
experience the mature fulfillment that comes with it. The
reverse is terribly true as well: if we don't speak up for ourselves,
others won't come to our aid. That includes political help from
outside New Mexico and it includes funding -- including funding for
the Los Alamos Study Group. Everybody, including funders, likes
the comfort of groups.
If you are not already a Study
Group donor, your gift – whether small or large, one-time or as
part of a monthly sustaining donor commitment – will also bring
you a richer stream of information about what’s going on in the
Study Group, and tell you more about what you can do to help us, or
join with us, than we send to this broad list.
So please, take just a moment and make
a donation on-line or, better, send a check to the office.
Or you can write Trish, or call her
at 505-265-1200, to arrange a gift of stock or make any other special
Now for the informational part of this Bulletin.
much is happening and there are so many opportunities at hand, that
it may be necessary to break up this Bulletin into multiple ones and
send them to you over the next few days, if time allows.
the way, if you've noticed, we don't take time to summarize events
and news, or provide too many opinions separate from what you
personally might do. There are plenty of ways to get news
and if you are interested enough you will find them. What we
are offering is far beyond news. We are providing a fact- and
value-based vehicle by which you can become an empowered,
sophisticated participant, linked and acting in solidarity with
others. Too much information -- even good information -- or
opinion not linked with mutual commitment and action, is useless and
The rest of this Bulletin, in a nutshell:
- The New Mexico congressional delegation is undermining the National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA), a cornerstone of U.S. environmental law, by
tacitly encouraging, through their supportive silence, the
expenditure of tens of millions of dollars in the next few months in very detailed, final design for the Los
Alamos plutonium project without an
applicable EIS (pdf). You can help educate them.
We seldom encourage "ordinary" citizens to write our
congressional delegation, or even meet with junior staffers whose
job it is to absorb and dispose of citizen concerns, because such
campaigns very seldom mean or achieve anything. To be
effective, it is essential to recruit supportive action from
important donors and political supporters, to demand accountability
from elected representatives in the press, and so on.
Our senators have even claimed credit for helping set up
a bogus "Supplemental" EIS (SEIS) process to provide an
appearance of reconsidering the project while it advances. It
is up to citizens to hold our elected officials to account, by asking
them to halt the project pending completion of a new EIS that
considers all reasonable alternatives, just as the law requires.
Above the local level, we don't have more than a sliver
of democracy left in this state, which in addition to being subject
to national trends eroding our democracy, also harbors unique and
profoundly anti-democratic institutions, chief among them being our
giant weapons laboratories, that undermine representative government
at every opportunity. Our democracy has to be rebuilt from the
ground up, and that means our engagement with village, city, tribal,
and county governments, and with state legislators. It means
learning about issues and being able to talk to others. Our
major newspapers and media outlets seldom if ever help (as
opposed to hurt) when it comes to the state's dominant
exploitative corporations and government entities, and they
tend to be allergic to issues that could affect their own corporate
investments or the social standing of their owners and editors.
Like the rest of us, they are only human and do not understand the
issues involved -- because we have not found effective and persuasive
ways to educate them. That is a hint.
- The Department of Energy (DOE), the National Nuclear Security
Administration (NNSA), and the White House have been telling
Congress they are "unequivocally" committed to building
the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility
(CMRR-NF) at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), no
matter what the cost (pdf). Meanwhile the Department
of Justice (DOJ), DOE, and NNSA are telling a federal judge the
exact opposite (pdf) -- that they have no commitment to the
project! You can help expose them. Our newspapers
have refused to write about this contradiction so far. It is
too controversial, too scary to actually name and
criticize the many lies of the federal government that enable this
$5.8 billion project, especially when all of our congressional
delegation wants silence or support so the project can proceed as
fast as possible!
- All the evidence in our lawsuit over the lack of NEPA
compliance for CMRR-NF, and all the legal briefs, are now on our
web site in a convenient form. You can use this
information to powerfully inform yourself and others. Our
briefs and evidence provide a good summary of the issues. We
want to try this case in public as well as in court. The Obama
White House and three federal agencies are bending every effort to
roll over environmental law (and over New Mexico) in their rush tocreate a factory for manufacturing new (note: new!)
kinds of nuclear weapons.
requests for a new EIS by local governments, tribes, and by
federal and state agencies are extremely important. You can
help secure them! The sooner the better. Both the
City and the County of Santa Fe have unanimously
requested a new EIS for the CMRR-NF at LANL. Kudos to
Commissioner Holian for introducing and carrying this important
resolution through the recent County process. Mayor David Coss
and councilors Patti Bushee and Matt Ortiz were the ones that
stepped forward in City government. Thanks
so much for all who worked for this important outcome.
- Some local governments, including tribes, have joined and are
funding a new regional government entity, set up by a Joint Powers
Agreement, called "The
Regional Coalition of LANL Communities," the purpose of
which is to lobby Congress for LANL programs and funding using pooled
municipal and county (i.e. local taxpayer) funds, while
providing a forum for LANL propaganda. You can help upset
this poison applecart! Here's
an exposé by Wren Abbott at the Santa
Fe Reporter. This new regional government is primarily
responsible to Los Alamos County, since that County provides
three-fourths of the funding. Darwin BondGraham and I attended
and filmed a meeting of the Coalition, and we saw how Los Alamos
County was running the show. We saw how LANL representatives
took up most of the meeting with presentations, including a
deceptive presentation extolling the wonders of CMRR-NF, omitting to
include any problems or impacts and omitting to provide any clear
explanation of the purpose of the facility (because the presenters
"didn't know;" they were only following orders; policy
matters were "above their pay grade"). Los Alamos
County Commissioner Mike Wheeler explained that the new regional
government Coalition is "a LANL advocacy group," set up
"so the Laboratory can do what it needs to do." It
is explicitly set up to overcome citizen opposition and concerns.
This new joint government, if allowed to continue, would represent a
united, pro-LANL front in the halls of power from northern New
Mexico, essentially negating any contrary official opinion or
resolution that might be expressed by any participating government,
and any but the tamest and most subservient "citizen"
action. It is a very important loss of local sovereignty and
citizenship. The only person present who expressed concern was
Mayor Coss, who said he was quite uncomfortable subsuming the
identity of Santa Fe beneath that of LANL and said the City,
officially and in its population, did not much support the nuclear
weapons mission of LANL. Nevertheless Santa Fe, the City and
County both, are poised to fund a lobbyist in Washington to promote
The notion that one can promote just "green"
or "clean" or "pure scientific" missions at LANL
is laughable. Where are those missions, by the way?
If you live in northern New Mexico, please contact your County, City,
and tribal officials, as applicable, and express your opposition to
this joint powers agreement. The funding is a problem,
but the Coalition is a big problem even without pooling taxpayer
funds. At the same time you can ask about
progress toward a resolution asking for a new EIS for CMRR-NF and a
halt to further investment in the project until a new EIS is
completed. Good talking points and other materials are here and here.
Here are links to Taos, Rio Arriba,
and Sandoval county governments. You can brief yourself using these new
Asked Questions” (pdf), which is up-to-date. This
is the single best resource we have for most citizens right now.
Remember, a resolution asking for a full, proper EIS would not
express opposition to the project. It would only ask NNSA to
follow the law. To repeat, our
lawsuit gives citizens a big megaphone on this issue. Please
use it! This is not “business as usual!”
This single building would use more than twice the steel used in the
Eiffel Tower. It will cost almost as much as the total
assessed value of all real estate in Santa Fe County in 2008 ($6.4
billion) (pdf). It will require something like 1/10 of the
concrete used in Hoover Dam. It is by far the largest
government project in the history of New Mexico, except the
- If you do not live in these
environmentally affected areas, call or write your congressperson
and senator and ask them to halt funding for this outrageous
- We have prepared and sent to Congress and to DOE's
advisors (pdf) a concise summary of some reasonable
alternatives to the CMRR-NF (pdf).
- Is the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) building "old"
-- or is
it just not being maintained (pdf) as suggested in this recent op-ed
by Study Group president Peter Neils in the Albuquerque
- Columnist Russ Wellen has
published some complementary lines about the Study Group, which also
reveal some of how we work and what we want: "The Front Line of
Disarmament: Blocking a Nuclear Facility Six Times the Cost of
the Manhattan Project, Foreign
Policy in Focus, Russ Wellen, blog, Nov 29, 2010 (also
here: Counterpunch, The
Faster Times, The
Huffington Post, Scholars
& Rogues, Newshoggers, and the Agonist.)
- A little bird tells us that midnight
convoys of nuclear materials (not waste) through greater Santa
Fe and beyond have greatly increased. Is it a sign of things to come, or
just a temporary surge? What is being shipped, and to where?
We don't know. We'll skip the recent (and earlier) revelations
of problems in the security forces, and the stories and photos of
our own personal encounters with these convoys. They aren't
that important from the policy perspective. Just interesting.
These convoys come are pretty much mobile, heavily-armed,
- In addition to the
new section of our CMRR web page devoted to local government action (please get involved!), and the
updated legal section with oodles of concise information (see
under "references," for example), we have put references
to NNSA's most current planning and budgeting documents here.
You can see where senators Kyl and Corker want to go in this Nov 24,
2010 memo ("Progress
in Defining Nuclear Modernization Requirements," pdf).
The debate over New START ratification and all it means to nuclear
weapons issues has been discussed in articles by Study Group board
members Darwin BondGraham ("Nuking
the Social Contract," Counterpunch Dec 3-5, 2010)
and Andy Lichterman ("The
START Treaty and Disarmament: a Dilemma in Search of a Debate,"
pdf, Dec 2010). I myself have explained these issues until
blue in the face with national and international colleagues, some of
whom are now shocked (shocked!) at the political cost of
ratification. No kidding! Most disarmament professionals
have looked the other way and ignored the facts. After all,
what's so very wrong with "modernization?" Most
organizational budgets are dependent on foundation funders working
directly or indirectly with the U.S. government, the Democratic
Party, and the Obama Administration, as nearly all U.S. foundations
working in the arms control and disarmament field are these days.
- A terrific brand-new resource on the interrelationship of
peak oil, climate, and the future of civilization is now available.
Written at a small institute at UC Santa Barbara by Tariel Mórrígan under the leadership of Richard Falk, it's called Peak
Energy, Climate Change, and the Collapse of Global
Civilization: the Current Peak Oil Crisis. This is the general terrain we
covered in 6 months of breakfast seminars in Albuquerque and Santa
Fe. You can download this interesting and useful book for
Information about peak oil, to the extent it is
understood and disseminated, is highly undermining of the existing
planet-destroying capitalist system (not to put too fine a point on
the matter). For this reason, it has been kept more secret than
nuclear weapons design. You can download or purchase books on
how to make basic atomic bombs, a challenge which has been reduced to
the level of smart undergraduates, but the Department of Energy (DOE)
and other departments of government have largely kept knowledge of
peak oil as secret as possible. As David Fridley, an oil
economist who worked under DOE Secretary Steven Chu, is quoted in
this book as saying, "[Dr. Chu] knows all about peak oil, but he
can't talk about it. If the government announced that peak oil
was threatening our economy, Wall Street would crash. He just
can't say anything about it." This is not any kind of flaky conspiracy, friends.
Governments understand perfectly well what is going on, from Cheney's
2001 Energy Task Force onwards. This is not the place for a
treatise on this topic, but it informs everything we do at the Study
Group. The risk of more war, uncontrollable war, is much higher
than most people think, and rising. In many ways that war has
already begun. The CMRR-NF is all about seizing the high ground
in a time of economic decline -- heavily vesting government in
upgrades to the nuclear enterprise before the house falls down.
In a few years, such vast fiscal waste may be unthinkable, unless we
have a new Cold War to go along with the hot ones -- which is not at
all "unthinkable," given Russia's strong energy position
vis-a-vis Europe. That's why so many parties want to get
started with construction now. Later may be too late, for
Please join with us, and encourage your friends to do so also, by
sending a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg, Trish & all the gang at LASG