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"Forget the Rest" blog

  NWMM June 29, 2012


A coalition linking arms control liberals with conservative and libertarian-leaning small government groups joined  together June 22 to ask the Senate Armed Services Committee  to reverse its support for construction of a  multi-billion dollar Chemistry and Metallurgy Research  Replacement-Nuclear Facility plutonium complex at Los  Alamos National Laboratory. “The Administration, the  Appropriators, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory  itself believe that this nearly $6 billion proposed facility is not needed at this time,” the letter said. “We would go  further and say the facility is not needed at all; it is a waste  of taxpayer money and should be canceled.”

Signed by 11 groups, the letter suggests the complicated  politics surrounding the project. Signatories from the arms  control left included the Friends Committee on National  Legislation and the Los Alamos Study Group. From the  small-government community, signatories included  Taxpayers for Common Sense and the New Mexico-based  libertarian-leaning Rio Grande Foundation. The unusual  political alliance echos the split in Congress on the issue,  with appropriators in the Republican House and Democratic  Senate voting to zero out funding for CMRR-NF,  while authorizing committee members in the Republican  House and Democratic Senate are pushing to put the  money back (see related story). 

Groups Favor Plutonium ‘Plan B’ 

In their letter, the groups challenged committee Chairman  Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking Republican John  McCain (R-Ariz.) to ask to see the “Plan B” produced by  the National Nuclear Security Administration for pursuing  plutonium work in the absence of CMRR-NF. “It is our  understanding that Los Alamos recently released a 60-day  study that determined that the Laboratory can maintain its  plutonium pit manufacturing and sustainment needs  without CMRR-NF. You have a ‘need to know’ this vital information—which is not available to the public—and we  urge you and other Members of the Senate Armed Services  Committee to review it before deciding to fund this  unnecessary facility,” the letter said.

Release of the letter also echoed back in New Mexico,  where the executive director of the Rio Grande Foundation  used it to criticize both candidates for the state’s U.S.  Senate seat, Republican Heather Wilson and Democrat  Martin Heinrich. Each has said they support building  CMRR-NF (NW&M Monitor, Vol. 16 No. 27). “Unfortunately  (albeit not surprisingly), both Heather Wilson and  Martin Heinrich who are running for New Mexico’s open  US Senate seat are trying to ‘one-up’ each other in supporting  the costly boondoggle,” the group’s president, Paul  Gessing, wrote in a blog post announcing release of the  letter.  —From staff reports

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