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"Forget the Rest" blog

May 6, 2011

Bulletin #113: Report on the recent hearing; the need for discernment

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Dear Study Group friends & colleagues,

All of us here at the Study Group want to thank each one of you that came to witness the two recent mornings of hearings, April 27th & May 2nd, regarding the immediate future of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF) project at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Some of you made very long drives in addition to taking off work.  One perceptive observer flew in from the East Coast. We sincerely appreciate all your support and want you to know how inspiring it was for all of us to look out in the gallery during those hours of argument and testimony and see your unwavering support.  We want to also commend our legal team – Tom Hnasko, Lindsay Lovejoy, and Dulcinea Hanuschak – for their very professional and knowledgeable teamwork, the results of which were evident.

This hearing addressed our Motion for a Preliminary Injunction to stop expenditures on the project until a brand-new environmental impact statement is completed.  The hearing also addressed the defendants' Motion to Dismiss, a topic they prefer to NEPA compliance. 

The first day of the hearing was devoted to a thorough opening statement by plaintiff's counsel, Tom Hnasko, followed by testimony from Greg Mello and Frank von Hippel from Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security.  Defendants' counsel Andrew Smith from the Department of Justice voiced many objections during our testimony, with a general appearance of unpreparedness.  Our counsels’ presentation was very much otherwise. When the first day’s proceedings reached the three hour limit, Judge Judith Herrera, after consulting with both legal teams, continued the hearing on the following Monday morning, May 2nd.

The second day of the hearing began with argument from defendants' counsel Andrew Smith.  The defense did not present any evidence or testimony on either day. After Mr. Smith's statement our lead counsel, Tom Hnasko, gave a concise closing argument.  Judge Herrera called a recess, stating she would review all the arguments and evidence before ruling on the opposing motions.  

Defendants stated, on the 27th, that the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) is “irrelevant,” a moment of agreement between sides. At the same time they would use that process, admittedly incomplete and unripe in the legal sense, to justify not interrupting their ongoing preparations to construct this facility. It is their primary defense, in fact, and the basis of their motion to dismiss. Defendants even argue that they are, in the SEIS, actually considering two "alternatives," the design variations characterized by our counsel as "digging a hole and digging a deeper hole." 

We would like everyone to look carefully at the SEIS process as an example of how citizen groups can be co-opted and recruited to support nuclear weapons plans, as Study Group president Peter Neils explains.

We are looking forward to seeing many of you this coming Mon, May 9th, at ABQ Mennonite Church, 1300 Girard Blvd NE, and Tues, May 10th, in Santa Fe at St. John's United Methodist Church, 1200 Old Pecos Trail, Rm#116, downstairs.  On these two evenings we will discuss the ways in which powerful elites shape and subvert citizens’ efforts to save the planet and their communities, and how we can avoid these traps. We will use current examples from climate protection and energy policy as well as nuclear disarmament and environmental protection, weaving together some of the recent work of Sheldon Wolin, Chris Hedges, Roger Pielke, and Matt Nisbet with the century and half of combined experience the Study Group brings to the table on these matters. These will be challenging and we hope interesting discussions. Please come, and bring your friends!

We want you all to know that you have all been a blessing to us here -- your generosity, your support, kind words, and witness in person during those days at court have been a real boost for all of us here at the Study Group, and for our legal team.  Whatever form your support has taken is greatly appreciated by all of us. Stay with us. In many ways, the tide is now turning in our favor. And beneath the surface, where the way is the goal, we have never stopped winning.

If you would like to read the legal filings submitted to the court up to now you can access those here.  When Judge Herrera issues her decision we will be posting that on the same page and we will also send a bulletin letting all of you know the outcome.

Recent press stories of interest: 
No Decision Yet in CMRR Lawsuit, A Special Bulletin from the Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor, May 5, 2011
Fate of LANL building rests in judge's hands, The New Mexican, May 2, 2011

Thank you all!

Trish, Greg, and all the gang

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