DOE does not want LANL to diversify, they want undiluted control over LANL. And in today's LANL, a technical staff member costs approximately $450,000 per FTE (a number, btw, that LANS considers to be sensitive corporate proprietary business data). Even if there was some compelling reason for a WFO sponsor to bring work to LANL, how could they afford to do so at those rates? What could they get at LANL that would be worth approximately twice what they would pay almost anywhere else? It sounds to me as if Udall was smoking a little whacky terbacky as he wrote this piece.
Santa Fe New Mexican
June 19, 2007
Future security depends on LANL diversifying
By Tom Udall
Los Alamos National Laboratory has played a critical role in protecting
America’s freedom and interests since its creation in 1943. The powerful
weapons developed at the lab brought an end to World War II, and the threat
of mutually assured destruction, ironically, prevented a third world war
from erupting throughout the years of the Cold War. For more than 60 years,
LANL has been directly responsible for the protection of our nation and our
way of life.
With the fall of the Soviet Union and the new challenges of homeland
security in a post-Sept. 11, 2001 world, however, times have clearly
changed. While it remains imperative that we maintain a safely kept and
effective nuclear deterrent, our current national weapons arsenal will be
reliable for decades to come. The ongoing threat of terrorism, and indeed
much of the threat to our overall national security, is formed largely by
our need for energy independence. Our current dependence on foreign oil has
rendered our nation increasingly vulnerable in this new global struggle.
The House Energy and Water appropriations bill, under the direction of
Subcommittee Chairman Pete Visclosky, (D-Indiana) and Ranking Member David
Hobson (R-Ohio), sets forth a bold vision for our national energy future.
Although some would try to portray this as a partisan issue, it is not. The
increased funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs
included in this bill received overwhelming bipartisan support when voted on
by the full Appropriations Committee.
This appropriations bill is the beginning of a long and inevitable
process. For the foreseeable future, our nation will call upon LANL to
maintain the safety of our nuclear stockpile and related national security
infrastructure. Yet Congress, with majorities on both sides of the aisle
recognizing we are no longer in a nuclear arms race, is going to allocate
less funding to maintain our nuclear weapons complex. The president has even
put forward a proposal for such reductions.
It is vital that Los Alamos National Security, as operator of LANL, take
action to broaden the scope of operations at the lab, or risk losing jobs.
Conversely, by focusing more of the lab’s mission on energy research, LANS
is better positioned to protect jobs and stabilize the local economy.
My goal is to ensure that the outstanding scientists at LANL have a fair
opportunity to participate in these new energy programs.
I have reached out to my colleagues in the New Mexico delegation urging a
collaborative effort to create a fair and open competitive process, and to
make certain that our national labs can compete for the increased funds
being proposed for energy research. In order to compete for these funds,
however, the mission at LANL must diversity.
Like the race to develop the first atomic bomb, LANL has again been issued
a monumental challenge. The circumstances have changed, but the challenge
remains as significant — the lab must now diversify its mission from
primarily weapons development to one that includes more energy innovation
and research. By utilizing the brilliant minds of the lab to develop
alternate forms of energy, LANL can help our nation reduce its dependence
on foreign oil and reduce the likelihood of Middle Eastern terrorism
affecting us. By enhancing energy efficiency and developing cleaner forms of
energy, LANL can help preserve our environment and counter the effects of
global climate change. Ultimately, LANL has the opportunity to step up and
protect America and the American way of life for the 21st century, as it did
in the 20th century.