|1. NNSA admits its
NEPA analysis of the proposed LANL Nuclear Facility is inadequate and
promises more – but continues the project anyway.
September 23rd press release told the basic story (In
response to lawsuit, nuke agency admits huge plutonium bomb facility
needs additional environmental analysis). It contains
links to a Department
of Justice (DOJ) letter to our attorneys (pdf) and our
letter to DOJ in response (pdf). These fine articles
on this helpful development subsequently appeared:
plans new CMRR environmental analysis, but group won't drop suit, (pdf 179KB) Nuclear Weapons and Materials
Monitor, Sep 27, 2010.
Study of LANL Project Planned in Light of Lawsuit, Albuquerque Journal North, article, Sep 23,
watchdog group spar over nuclear facility, Feds urge dismissal of
environment suit, Santa Fe New
Mexican, article, Sep 22, 2010.
We are preparing
further court submittals, as described in the above.
2. Other new and useful resources regarding the proposed LANL
Proposal Needs New Study,Albuquerque
Journal, Willem Malten, op-ed, Sep 5, 2010
Behind the CMRR Facility & the US Nuclear Weapons Industry,
(mpg 27.1MB) Darwin BondGraham, presentation, Aug 28, 2010 (thanks to Robin Collier, Cultural
Alamos Study Group files suit over LANL plutonium facility, (pdf 184 KB) Nuclear Weapons & Materials
Monitor, article, Aug 30, 2010
START", the proposed CMRR Nuclear Facility and the LASG lawsuit
against the DOE and NNSA, Op-Ed
News, Malten, article, Aug 27, 2010
an Arrow at the Beating Heart of Nuclear Weapons, The
Faster Times, blog, Aug 24, 2010 (also here: Foreign
Policy in Focus, blog, Aug 23, 2010)
One of the most useful things you can
do is to work with your local governments, as some of you already
are. Here are some resources you can use:
Working with local governments
requires and develops at least a modicum of political skill and
organization, which are necessary to address the broad range of
interrelated crises we face. These crises impinge upon people where
they are; they are abstract otherwise. There is no substitute for
face-to-face local politics, in which we ourselves are engaged right
where we live and work and raise our families. It ain’t
pretty, but oddly enough it appears to be less corrupt than the
process of foundations implicitly allied with political parties setting
large-scale agendas from afar.
All this and more
has been implicit in our suggestion to work with local governments
and abjure isolated endeavors, which are ineffective and easily
3. Estimated Nuclear
Facility costs now exceed $5.5 B.
We cannot reveal our
source, which we deem reliable. A highly-placed Administration
source also tells us the estimated cost of the Uranium Processing
Facility (UPF) now exceeds $5.0 B. The two projects together are now
estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $11 B, unless of course they
are downscaled or abandoned – which, we beg you to notice, they
sooner or later will be. Many observers have remarked to us
that they do not believe these facilities will be completed as
currently designed – or if completed, operated. The question
is less whether we will win but when, and what will happen to our
society and to nature in the meantime.
Nuclear Facility costs have inflated by approximately a factor of 17
since 2002. The building is to be smaller, also – useful
Hazard Category II lab space in the facility has declined by roughly
36% since then. Putting these together, the cost per square
foot of lab space has increased by a factor of very roughly 26 since
the project was proposed and the reasonable alternatives of
the CMRR EIS were selected.
4. The White House seeks an emergency nuclear weapons spending
increase to cover unexpected costs, buy Republican votes, which
would start on Friday of this week if passed; House
Within its set of requested
Continuing Resolution (CR) “anomalies,” (pdf) the White House has urged immediate implementation of its
proposed FY2011 nuclear weapons budget increase. FY2011 starts
on Friday of this week. Republicans argue
against passage, and so have we, in a letter
we sent yesterday to the Democratic members of the House
Appropriations Committee, and others. LANL and NNSA believe they can
issue new contracts and begin the bidding process on others once
fresh appropriations are in hand. Funding for the Nuclear Facility
could more than triple on Friday.
5.The White House announces it will seek even greater nuclear
weapons spending than before, will revise “Section 1251 report”
in the fall.
On September 15, two days before the
DOJ wrote its letter to us promising a SEIS and one day before the
vote on New START ratification, Vice President Biden wrote to the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee promising the Administration’s
full commitment to the Nuclear Facility and other NNSA projects,
acknowledging that their estimated costs have increased and promising
to seek additional funding to cover those costs. Amid paragraphs of
wandering prose, Biden said:
Since the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) was
submitted to the Senate for advice and consent, questions posed…have
highlighted…the Administration's plans to modernize the U.S.
nuclear weapons complex, in particular the President's budget request
for FY 2011 and projected out-year requests…. I write to
assure the Committee of the Administration's strong support for this
program...The FY 2011-2015 President's Budget was based on the best
estimates available at that time, and reflected our assessment of
necessary investments and the capacities to absorb increased
funding…NNSA has used the time since the spring…to work
on updating initial assumptions. We now have a more complete
understanding of stockpile requirements, including the life extension
program needs. Similarly, the designs of key facilities such as the
Uranium Processing Facility and the Chemical and Metallurgy Research
Replacement Facility have progressed…we expect that funding
requirements will increase in future budget years.
Later this fall, the Administration will provide the Congress with
information that updates the Section 1251 report….This
Administration has expressed its unequivocal commitment to
recapitalizing and modernizing the nuclear enterprise, and seeks to
work with Congress on building a bipartisan consensus in support of
this vital project.
These proposed increases would come on
top of the big increases proposed earlier this year. In addition
to the cost escalations Biden mentions, these promises appear to be a
capitulation to Republican demands for additional nuclear weapons
spending in return for possible votes in favor of New START
ratification, which was the specific context in which this letter was
created. (Regarding the earlier increase, see Obama
Requests Nuclear Weapons Spending Surge, press
release, Feb 1, 2010.) Another cause: NNSA expects to subsidize
corporate pension funds at its nuclear weapons sites with billions of
additional dollars over the next few years to maintain the viability
of those defined-benefits plans. The ultimate cost will depend on
asset valuations, but this “budget bomb” isn’t
going away any time soon.
6. New START ratification is a bum deal, “seven ways to
We are among those
who do not believe New START ratification is a good idea for the
foreseeable future. We laid out some of the reasons last spring in
detailed correspondence to leading NGOs in the U.S. and worldwide,
and continued over the summer. New START ratification is the most
important single new-term policy objective of the major arms control
foundations, which largely set the agenda for most nonprofits in the
field. We were not surprised to find that most nonprofits have been
unable to grapple with this problem.
In early August we
were pleased that a “[d]elay
on New START ratification vote provides opportunity for assessment of
nuclear weapons policies,” (press release of
August 3). Darwin BondGraham has just put out a great new product on
this subject, “New
START's Big Winners: U.S. Nuke Complex, Pentagon, and Contractors, Foreign Policy in Focus, Sep 17, 2010.
You will hear more
from us on this matter. There will be no vote on the treaty until,
at the earliest, the lame duck session after the November elections.
Despite all the hawkish promises from the Administration, passage is
not assured. Whatever. Cut nuclear and military budgets, please.
7. Ways to be more involved.
we preserve the best of our civilization against the tremendous
forgetting that is already cutting swathes through our culture?
Can we abandon our planet-destroying fossil-fuel way of life fast
enough to preserve most species -- fast enough to allow smiles to
flower, not just affliction and grief, as the human population
declines dramatically in the next half-century? That decline in
population will happen as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow.
Can we direct our declining industrial civilization into less
destructive directions, and build a less destructive, more
sustainable road for our children, with dignity and with more joy and
less fear? We can't achieve full sustainability -- it's far too
late for that -- but as was wisely said by a city official in Santa
Fe, "Less bad is the new good." Since Eden, "less
bad" has always been the proper, reality-based goal, and
if we are healthy we have to fight for it. We will lose many
but we can save many too.
Thank you for your
attention and interest,
Greg Mello, for the