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"Forget the Rest" blog

May 6, 2011

A letter from Peter Neils, President of the Los Alamos Study Group

The Need for Discernment

With the recent two-day hearing in our lawsuit concluded it seems appropriate to take stock of the situation.

It is difficult to anticipate the judge’s disposition in regard to the merits of our case, except to note that she had sufficient interest in our argument to repeatedly overrule defendants’ objections to our testimony.

The level of interest demonstrated by our members and supporters, as expressed by their attendance both days and in other ways, has been very gratifying.

We have a very good case, which is why we filed in the first place. We will see what happens next.

A month and a half after we began this lawsuit, and three months after expressing our intent to file, DOE announced its proposed Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). Some New Mexico folks mistakenly thought this evasion was a positive development. Some even tried to take “credit” for it – a double mistake.

Endorsing an illegitimate process has done nothing but harm – political harm and legal harm. DOE’s purpose in writing the SEIS is to impede and co-opt opposition to the proposed Nuclear Facility. It has no other purpose.

The SEIS has certainly harmed our lawsuit (to what degree we do not yet know) and generated months of otherwise- unnecessary work and expense. It is the legal fig leaf behind which NNSA proposes to hide. Without it NNSA would have no defense at all and our lawsuit would be tremendously simplified. Beyond that, the SEIS stands in the way of a real re-assessment of the project.

When the SEIS scoping process was initiated last fall in response to our lawsuit, discerning citizens – a redundant phrase, we think – should have labeled that process what it was – a sham. Discerning citizens shouldn’t lend such a process legitimacy, which it never deserved, by trying to "make it a better document," or "request more hearings," or "expand the comment period." Comments like that were more than a waste: they were and are quite harmful. The Study Group submitted scoping comments to the SEIS to protect our legal options, but we made it very clear in those comments and in our sworn testimony that this was an illegitimate and inherently invalid process for several reasons. To begin with, the project is continuing uninterruptedly, and second there is no applicable EIS to supplement.

As you might have noticed, all scoping comments that requested analysis of other alternatives were utterly ignored. What a surprise.

Each day we must carefully discern the most effective use of our time and resources. This is especially true in the political realm, which is characterized by extensive propaganda, deception, and manipulation, coming from many centers, with each of us as targets. If we wish to act effectively, and not just “go along to get along,” we will have to discern.

Organizations which are reluctant to articulate and work effectively for policies that reject the influence of nuclear weapons in our society and in both our major political parties, and which allow their staff to be used as shields by the nuclear weapons establishment, aren’t opposing nuclear weapons.

The Study Group wants and needs your support and yes, anything you can do to help would as always be very gratefully accepted. All of us, if we are serious, must be responsible and discerning. We need to be very careful about who and what we endorse. There are many who want the nuclear weapons establishment to continue in power and others who want it to expand to the greatest extent possible, especially here in New Mexico. Beware.


Peter Neils, President

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

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