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"Forget the Rest" blog


For Immediate Release Thursday, 3/20/14; second release to follow on plutonium

Proposed DOE budget nearly flat in New Mexico

Nuke weapons up 4%; nonproliferation and science to be cut

No economic growth from planned DOE programs can be expected, green group warns

Contact: Greg Mello, 505-265-1200 office, 505-577-8563 cell

Albuquerque, NM – The Laboratory Tables and State Tables from the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) budget request for fiscal year (FY2015) have finally been released. 

DOE is spending $4.528 billion (B) in New Mexico this fiscal year (FY2014).  This is about 5.6% of the state’s total economic activity of roughly $81 billion (B) and works out to $2,190 per state inhabitant. (Only a small minority benefit directly from this spending.)  New Mexico experiences more than five times the DOE spending per capita as the next most DOE-intensive state (Tennessee). 

DOE proposes to spend $4.563 B in FY2015, $34.3 million (M) more than this year, a 0.8% increase. 

Nuclear “Weapons Activities” – warhead design, production, maintenance, and associated programs – comprises 75% of this spending.  Weapons Activities is slated for a 4% increase, should Congress approve. 

The next largest DOE spending category for New Mexico is “Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation’ (DNN), which comprises 9% of DOE’s New Mexico spending.  DNN is slated to be cut heavily in the President’s budget, including in New Mexico where it would drop 17%. 

The third largest category of DOE spending in New Mexico is “Environmental Management” (EM), often called “cleanup,” which comprises about 5% of DOE spending in the state.  The cleanup spending trajectory is flat in the President’s budget for New Mexico. 

Spending in DOE’s “Science” budget line – 2% of total New Mexico DOE spending – is slated to fall next year, by 9%. 

At Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), which in overall spending terms is DOE’s largest lab, DOE spending (about 92% of LANL’s budget in FY2013, the most recent year for which non-DOE spending is available) is to be essentially flat; it’s down next year by just $12.1 M (0.6%). 

Weapons Activities at LANL is projected to be essentially the same as this year’s spending, as is EM.   There are small cuts in DNN and in Science – notably at the Manuel E. Lujan Neutron Scattering Center, where funding through the DOE Office of Science would be terminated come October 1.  LANL is “disappointed.” 

At Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), whose operating contract under Lockheed Martin has just been extended up to three more years, DOE spending would increase to a total of $1.809 B, primarily due to a $121 M (9%) increase in Weapons Activities.  This increase is driven by design of the B61-12 nuclear bomb Life Extension Program (LEP) and design of a new fuze for the W88 nuclear warhead for the Navy.  A Study Group source on Capitol Hill tells us that SNL has told congressional committees that it has hired 700 people to work on the B61-12.  Just in the past year SNL’s nuclear weapons program has topped that of LANL’s, in financial terms.   

Study Group Director Greg Mello: “DOE spends a great deal of money in New Mexico, mostly for nuclear weapons.  However large, this spending has not produced economic development for the state as a whole, nor is it ever likely to do so.  There are certainly no economic growth “seeds” in next year’s proposed DOE budget for New Mexico, which reflects static federal energy and nuclear weapons priorities. 

“DOE spending is maintenance spending, not an investment for growth, here.  Unless basic changes are made in the state’s educational system, social conditions, and other business location factors, any significant innovation from DOE labs here is likely to be the basis for investment elsewhere, not here. 

“There are minor changes slated for DOE spending here next year.  At Sandia, weapons spending is up considerably.  At LANL, an institutionally-significant science facility is to be shuttered.  Nuclear proliferation spending, once thought of as a potential growth field at the nuclear labs, faces substantial cuts.

“DOE spending creates relatively few direct and indirect New Mexico jobs as a percent of our workforce.  Political obsession with this spending and these jobs is completely misplaced.  Economic growth, if it comes, will come through the appropriate private sector initiatives – except in health care, where the expansion of Medicaid and rural health access in New Mexico under the Affordable Care Act is the main positive economic news that is certain in the state at present. 

“Efforts made by our congressional delegation and by others – such as the ‘Regional Coalition of LANL Communities’ – are wasted, if economic development is the aim.  The negative political effects of DOE spending more than outweigh the positive economic stimulus.  Overall, the nuclear labs have distracted and misled our political leaders, keeping New Mexico poor.  This state will remain poor and get poorer, stuck in the past instead of investing in the future, until our leaders abandon The Bomb.  Such a turning is necessary, but not sufficient, for economic stability in this state.” 




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