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Bulletin #151: Invitation to solstice dinner fundraiser & discussion in Santa Fe; congressional update

June 13, 2012

1. Summer solstice dinner and discussion in Santa Fe

2. Congressional update: another scoreless inning for CMRR-NF advocates (yes!), but the game is not yet over

Dear friends –

1. Summer solstice dinner and discussion in Santa Fe

Hosts Michael Waldron and Willem Malten of the Cloud Cliff Bakery would like to invite you to a gourmet supper and stimulating conversation at a fundraising dinner for the Los Alamos Study Group on the evening of Wednesday, June 20th at 6:00 pm. 

Michael and Willem will be our chefs and will prepare a five-course Middle Eastern dinner, in honor of our brother and sister activists of Tahrir Square. This fun and educational event will take place at the lovely Santa Fe home and garden of Michael Waldron and Chantal Combes, 316 East Buena Vista St. (map).  

A $100 minimum donation per individual is requested, which includes dinner and drinks.

After dinner I (Greg Mello) will offer a presentation on some of the critical issues facing New Mexico and the twinned opportunities and necessities now before us, followed by group discussion.  Background handouts and references will be provided for your use. 

There will be plenty of opportunity to meet face to face with the Study Group team, who will be available throughout the evening.  This is going to be a fun, mixed event, appropriate for all ages and backgrounds! 

You need to RSVP to come to this event.  We hope you will do so as soon as you check your calendar!  To RSVP please write or call Trish at the Study Group office (505-265-1200). 

There is limited parking on the property.  You can also park on the street or at the school parking lot across the street. 

We know that many of you will not be able to afford to come to this dinner, just as we on the Study Group staff would not able to afford it were we invited.  Please do not feel left out!  The Study Group has hosted literally hundreds of free events in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Los Alamos and Taos and we will continue to do so.  If you get a group together, we will very likely come.  Meanwhile, for those who can come on the 20th, by all means please do come and show your support!  

2. Congressional update: another scoreless inning for CMRR-NF advocates

On May 31 (Bulletin 150) and on June 4 (Letter to Congress) we asked for your help in preventing or defeating any amendment that might arise to the Energy and Water Appropriations bill in the House that would have funded or required construction of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF).  Links provided led to more detail. 

Thank you for those efforts! 

What happened was that after assessing the (low) probability of success, none of those who had been demanding that CMRR-NF be built attempted any amendments to fund or require the project.  So the House passed an Energy and Water funding bill with provisions that a) offer no funding for CMRR-NF, b) require NNSA to return $65 million (M) in unspent CMRR-NF funds to the Treasury, and c) spend an additional $65 M on making LANL’s main plutonium building (PF-4) safer and more serviceable by cleaning out its vault ($35 M) and making needed safety improvements ($30 M). 

This is another significant “win” for sane nuclear weapons policy and fiscal responsibility.  It is another step in preventing production of novel warheads – a step toward maintenance as opposed to aggressive modernization.  Under current conditions this is a big step in the right direction. 

At this point, the two appropriations bills and the NNSA budget request are in basic agreement as regards what NNSA calls “plutonium sustainment” and CMRR-NF, in that all three:

  • Defer CMRR-NF for at least five years and zero out its funding;
  • Implement the plutonium sustainment strategy described by NNSA and chosen by the Nuclear Weapons Council (i.e. NNSA, DoD, and the uniformed military) as the best path forward, which involves no new facilities anywhere; and
  • Study longer-term alternatives and requirements in one way or another. 

The Senate version of the Energy and Water funding bill has not been taken up on the Senate floor and we don’t know when that will occur. 

By contrast, this year’s twin National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bills – the House version that has passed the whole House, and the Senate version that has not yet done so – are generally appalling.  The House bill, as we mentioned in Bulletin 150, is riddled with ideological provisions that do also do not (in our opinion) pass the constitutional “smell test.”  The more restrained Senate version, which became available last week, is nonetheless riddled with factual errors and magical thinking where it discusses CMRR-NF (which it does copiously). 

For example, like South Carolina attempting to legislate a cap on sea-level rise, the Senate Armed Services Committee would “cap” CMRR-NF costs at $3.7 billion, NNSA’s lowest possible cost as of two years ago.  How this “capping” would be accomplished is not explained. 

We have put this legislation on a single web page as it has become available, with a comparison (pdf) of the two NDAA bills (we will upload a new version of this comparison later today or tomorrow). 

Meanwhile we have collected some of the best open-source articles on these developments on our web site:

We are working with government staff and others on these matters and will be traveling to Washington, DC for a week later this month for face-to-face meetings.  Stay tuned, and please come on the 20th if you can. 

Much more soon,

Greg and Trish for the Study Group

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