Jun 7, 2007

Lab budget sees cuts

House committee cuts nuclear weapons projects
ROGER SNODGRASS Monitor Assistant Editor

The House Appropriations Committee Wednesday zeroed out funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead and a plutonium pit production center, marking an important milestone in the budget process, but not the final bill.

Altogether, the DOE budget blueprint was raised by $1.3 billion over the current fiscal year and $900 million more than the president's request.

The priorities for the energy department, according to a statement by Rep. Peter Vizclosky, D-Ind., the energy and water appropriations subcommittee chair, were given to addressing gas prices, reducing dependence on foreign oil, confronting the energy crisis and addressing climate change.

In the nuclear weapons area, priorities were adjusted toward confronting a terrorist nuclear threat and reducing the size of the nuclear weapons complex.

Members of the northern New Mexico Congressional delegation were disturbed in varying degrees by the budget numbers for Los Alamos National Laboratory and, to a lesser degree, for Sandia National Laboratories.

Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., newly appointed to the House Appropriations Committee, but not a member of the energy appropriations panel, said he would work to enable New Mexico's national laboratories to compete in those areas where the energy department funding was going up.

"I strongly believe it is necessary to direct increased funding toward energy efficiency and renewable energy programs as included in the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill," he said in an announcement. "I support that vision but I voiced my opposition in the committee to the manner in which it is being proposed because I want to ensure that as we transition the role for our national labs, the outstanding scientists at LANL are not unfairly disadvantaged in the process."

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee emphasized the provisional status of the House committee bill.

"These proposed cuts are serious, particularly at Los Alamos National Laboratory," he said in an announcement after the vote. "But I will be working with Rep. Udall, Sen. Domenici and others in Congress to ensure that LANL and Sandia have the funding they need to protect our nation's stockpile and provide the best science in our nation's interest, while supporting the economic vitality of the communities that are home to the labs."

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., ranking member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee that will write the Senate version of the DOE funding bill, called the House plan "stunningly punitive," compared to increased funding for other DOE laboratories including Livermore, Idaho and Oak Ridge.

"I am surprised by the extent to which the House Appropriations Committee has gone out of its way to single out Los Alamos, and to some extent Sandia," he said. "The House bill is stunningly punitive in its treatment of Los Alamos. This bill would be devastating for Los Alamos, surrounding communities and New Mexico overall," Domenici said.

Domenici said the DOE weapons program would be cut by $600 million, eliminating all funding for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMMR) facility (-$95 million); recommends a nearly 50 percent cut for pit manufacturing (-$131.2 million), and cuts the Nuclear Material Safeguard and Security Upgrade-Phase II (-$50 million).

Domenici also highlighted a $50 million cut in Advanced Scientific Computing, which would block funding needed to support the Roadrunner High Performance Computer acquisition for LANL.

A Congressional staffer said a positive note in the LANL budget was an additional $60 million added to the cleanup budget, raising the total for that category to $200 million.


Anonymous said...

Think we'll still have the big "LANS One-Year Anniversary" bash?

If so, will there be a dunk tank?

Anonymous said...

Domenici pretty much spread the Lab's cheeks when he agreed to opening up the prime contract to bid. And now he's shocked?

Anonymous said...

After reading this I ask one question, "How in the hell can there not be a lay off of at least 50% of the people at LANL"? How can they continue to keep all of the people on board. I am surprise that LANL under the new management and budget cuts have lasted this long. LLNL.... Your next and sooner than one year it took to destroy LANL. Standby and hold on to your ankles. For anyone at either lab that can truly retire and make it on that pay, I would say get out of dodge as quick as you can. The warning signs have been there fore a long time.Leave it to the younger genration that believe thay have all of the answers.

Eric said...

On the bright side, I got a request today for 40 engineers of the kind that work at LANL.

Yesterday, I was asked about projects that could be done in New Mexico and that would provide jobs to those who apparently will not be working at LANL.

I replied with a list of job generators.

Anonymous said...

As a long time employee of LANL,who served under every Director since Bradberry, I have never seen or been a witness to the devistation that this lab has suffered in the past few years , from both internal elements, as well as external. If LANL last's as an Institution I will be suprised. Congress has fired the shot across the bow, all need to heed the warning, it may be time for the younger generation to abandon ship.....it's almost a lost cause....

Anonymous said...

Wow! and to think that Mikey and his bunch accomplished all of this B.S. in under a year, hate to see what they can do in two....

Anonymous said...

Several Thoughts:

First, wrt LLNL being next. I am a strong believer that the LLNL mafia that was sent here, is in bed with NNSA. The Nation cannot afford two weapons labs, and we are now witnessing the preferred solution (note how LLNL was not hit by Congress). The decision to dismantle LANL was made in December 2005 with the announcement of LANS. Strong rumors indicate this was in spite of the objective process which chose Lockheed Martin. Do not underestimate the power of Mike Anastasio, Bret Knapp, and Charlie MacMillan (and Glenn Mara to some extent). These guys have no intention of supporting a successful LANL, just the opposite. Our Federal Government is disgustingly corrupt.

Second: "A Congressional staffer said a positive note in the LANL budget was an additional $60 million added to the cleanup budget, raising the total for that category to $200 million."

This is starting to sound like Rocky Flats. The good news for those of us who still have 10 years left in our careers is we can probably make it through that supporting the clean-up process. Icky work, but my house will keep me handcuffed here.

Third: How in the world can LANs sponsor and pay for a big picnic when the place is in shambles? Anyone who attends the event should get extra attention in the drug test or polygraph pools.

Lastly: New Mexico is about to take one giant step backwards and the elected officials either: are powerless, don’t care, or have their heads up their rear (Udall). We are also headed off a cliff as a Nation. One day, the United States of America is going to wonder what happened to its superior place in the world. Go Google what our enemies (Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, …) and our friends (UK, France?, Israel, India, Pakistan, …) are doing with their Nuclear Weapons programs. If you take the time, you’ll discover that they are paying attention to the need to protect themselves. Let’s go pick some more daisies America. Meanwhile, how about we redirect the talents of LANL to finding a cheaper solution to fossil fuels. I guess the geniuses in Congress have forgotten about nuclear energy. It’s there, and requires no development, just a backbone.

Anonymous said...

The House telegraphed it's intentions with respect to DOE, LANL, etc. But that is just the House. It is a long way from being finalized. Get a grip, people.

Anonymous said...

Under last year's Continuing Resolution, agencies got the LEAST of what was proposed in the President's, House's, or Senate's budget.

So if the spineless Congressman pull another CR stunt again this fall, then we're screwed. We'll get the House budget.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, conventional wisdom is that there will NOT be a CR this year, which I find surprising. However, if there is, then you are correct about the implication. We would likely live with the House mark which would be devastating.

Anonymous said...

12:13 pm:

"As a long time employee of LANL,who served under every Director since Bradberry..."

Actually, if you had cared to check (and since you didn't, I believe you are a fake), the name was "Bradbury" not Bradberry." I joined the Lab after Norris' time, when Harold Agnew was Director, but I got to work for Norris' son, Jim, when he was a Group Leader at LAMPF (MP-3). He was also an excellent person, in the shoes of his father.