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"Forget the Rest" blog

Bulletin #132: Study Group files second lawsuit to halt proposed $6 billion bomb factory

October 22, 2011

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1. We have filed a second lawsuit to halt the proposed $6 billion plutonium facility at Los Alamos
2. Please consider becoming a sustaining (monthly) donor, even at a very "low" level, and undertaking a bit of outreach on our behalf

Dear friends, colleagues, and adversaries --

1. We have filed a second lawsuit to halt the proposed $6 billion plutonium facility -- the CMRR-NF (pdf) -- at Los Alamos

Here's yesterday's press release with a summary of the issues and links to more information.  As you can see on our litigation page, we are also continuing an Appeal of our first lawsuit.  Here's the new Complaint (pdf).

We are very grateful to our attorneys, Tom Hnasko, Lindsay Lovejoy, and Dulcinea Hanuschak, who have worked unselfishly, with little or no pay, to help us, along with the expert staff at the Hinkle law firm.  We are also very grateful to you, our donors, who make our work possible.

The Associated Press ("Watchdog files second lawsuit over proposed Los Alamos plutonium lab") and trade press ("Los Alamos Study Group to file new CMRR-NF lawsuit", Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor) provided excellent coverage.

Editors at the Albuquerque Journal and New Mexican used the brief but informative AP story in lieu of assigning their own writers.  AP does a terrific job but nothing can take the place of in-depth reporting and analysis in local newspapers.  You would think a nuclear weapons factory -- let's not make distinctions without differences; that's what it is -- costing ten times what any prior project in this state has ever cost might merit some in-depth reporting.  There has never been such reporting -- not in New Mexico, and not nationally either.  Just discontinuous bits.  As a result, the state's political class is uninformed about this project, as they are about many other crucial issues. 

Newspapers don't just provide information.  They signal salience.  Today, the New Mexican ran a front page story about a comedic writer, and the Journal ran a front page story about the personal flying saucers some company hopes to rent to tourists at the new spaceport, if and when it opens.  Trivial pursuits all, within the frames of passive mass entertainment and its associated infantilization.  As Neil Postman famously put it in 1985, we are amusing ourselves to death.  Twenty-six years later in America, there is not much democratic culture left to kill.

With this new litigation we have opened a new venue in which, if we are sufficiently diligent, we can openly discuss facts and law.  We and everybody else can bring that evidence and those arguments to bear in other forums -- administrative, legislative, and popular, in the streets -- which is why all our legal filings and evidence are posted on our web site for easy access.

It isn't easy, of course.  Most of the avenues of democratic reform in our society are now closed or nearly closed, and the courts are no exception.  Therefore we are very grateful for your solidarity, in whatever form you may express it, whether to us directly, in our newspapers, in your own organizations, to potential donors you may know, or in your own political work in other states, if you are not in New Mexico.

Congress is likely to decide some time in the next three weeks or so whether or not to provide authorization and funding for CMRR-NF construction.  The House opposes construction this year; the Senate does not.  Study Group president Peter Neils and I will be going to Washington, DC tomorrow for a week, where we will speak with decisionmakers, analysts, and others regarding this project, as well as broader issues concerning Department of Energy (DOE) and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) programs and budgets.

One of the interesting proposals on the table in Washington is a bizarre fast-then-slow, staggered construction "dance" being proposed for CMRR-NF and the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) in Tennessee.  The idea is to begin CMRR-NF construction for about three years, then slow it down while UPF is mostly built.  Then CMRR-NF construction would resume at normal speed.

Such an approach is being proposed because NNSA does not anticipate actually having sufficient appropriations to build both projects at the same time.  It seems to be a policy of desperation.

Those of you who are writing or speaking on the giant, transformative CMRR-NF project may wish to look at our press release regarding the recent NNSA "Amended Record of Decision" (AROD) to build it: Nuclear Weapons Agency Reports Prior Decision to Build Huge Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos Still On Track, Oct 13, 2011.

Russ Wellen wrote a complementary note about that here (Paving Over the Money Pit of Nuclear Weapons Spending, Foreign Policy in Focus, Oct 19, 2011).

A good overview of CMRR-NF in audio form can be found in a Sept. 28 interview of Greg by Mary-Charlotte Domandi, KSFR Radio Café (mp3).

By the way, a group of local businesses, friends of ours, put a full-page in the New Mexican (Pasatiempo) on October 14 expressing their opposition to CMRR-NF.  Ya-hoo!

2. Three things you can do in close or distant solidarity with us.

  • Subscribe to this email list if you are not getting this email directly.  To do that, send a blank email here.  This list is how we keep folks at least somewhat abreast of breaking events, offer new resources, announce meetings, and suggest ways to work in close or distant solidarity.  If you want to know more or want to help out, or if your friends do, subscribing to this list is the first thing to do.  We are also on Facebook and Twitter, by the way.  We don't send a lot of email to this list -- perhaps one bulletin every week or two.  (Our core circles get a lot more.)

If you take the time to read up a bit -- you might start with yesterday's press release and it's background links -- you will be well-armed to speak and act.  Get creative!

  • Please consider becoming a sustaining (monthly) donor, even at a very "low" level.  We are deeply grateful for the donations that enable us to work.  So if you aren't a regular donor, please consider becoming a monthly sustaining donor at ANY level (fill out and mail in this pdf form, or call Trish at 505-265-1200).  Even a small, or very small, monthly donation adds to the breadth of our support and will make a big difference for us.  Of course you can also donate at any time on-line, by mail (to Los Alamos Study Group, 2901 Summit Place NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106), or by a gift of stock or other property (which may have tax advantages, depending upon your situation).  No contribution is too small or too large.  The Study Group is a 501(c)(3) organization and all donations are tax-deductible.

  • Be an ambassador for us, or with us.  This can take an array of forms depending on one's personal situation, inclination, and interest.  This outreach might have primarily a political character, or a social character, or a fundraising character.  It could be something you mostly do yourself, with your own stamp and a nod or hat-tip to us, or it could be outreach specifically on our behalf. You can do things we can't; you know people we don't; you are in places we aren't, and each of you has a whole 24 hours every day other people do not.

Such an "ambassador" role could range in intensity from the occasional helpful remark in appropriate occasions all the way to a concerted political, social, or fundraising effort.  We ourselves have no more hours to give, but even if we did have those hours, we would not have your unique standpoint in society, your friends, your creativity and will.

Often people ask, "What can I do?"  Usually the feeling associated with the question is one of smallness relative to the scale of the problem.  As is often the case there is a good answer implicit in the question itself -- in this case, "I can."  Or if you prefer, "I can do."  Simone Weil once rewrote Descartes' dictum as "I can, therefore I am."

Greg Mello

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2901 Summit Place NE Albuquerque, NM 87106, Phone: 505-265-1200

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