Jul 18, 2007

Udall backs bill slashing lab funds


By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
July 17, 2007

Congressman says LANL, Sandia must switch focus to energy

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that essentially cuts money for Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, and U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., voted for it, saying the labs need to focus more on energy research.

The House Energy and Water Appropriations Act would cut about $400 million from Los Alamos and Sandia compared to the 2007 fiscal year, Udall’s office has reported. But that’s not the final budget for Los Alamos since a Senate committee has moved to restore the proposed cuts.

Udall “strongly believes that it is necessary to direct increased funding toward energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, as this bill does,” his spokeswoman said in a statement. “Congressman Udall voted for this bill because all of our national laboratories should be conducting critical energy research and science programs to address national security challenges.”

U.S. Reps. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., and Steve Pearce, R-N.M., voted against the measure. It passed by a vote of 312-112.

Wilson, whose district includes Sandia, called the vote a “radical shift in U.S. nuclear policy.”

“The decisions embedded in this legislation will lead us either to return to nuclear testing, or to abandon nuclear deterrence because we will stop maintaining the stockpile,” Wilson said in a news release. “This bill devastates the capability to certify that our nuclear weapons are safe, secure and reliable without testing.”

Last month, Udall offered an amendment to the $31 billion bill that would have restored about $192 million to Los Alamos. It was defeated 121-312. Several House members have criticized the lab’s management.

Udall also said this year’s appropriations process should “serve as a strong signal” to the National Nuclear Security Administration and lab managers “that the work at the lab must be diversified to meet current and emerging national security threats.”

Udall was praised by Jay Coghlan, who heads Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “We congratulate Udall for voting the right way and hope that we all can get really serious about changing missions at Los Alamos,” Coghlan said.

U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said he disagrees with the House approach. “I am disappointed in the House-passed bill,” Domenici said in a statement. “It represents a serious challenge to our laboratories’ efforts to keep Americans safe without going back to underground nuclear testing, and reverses so many scientific gains of the past 20 years.”

The differences in the House and Senate versions of the spending bill must be hammered out before the measure is sent to the president. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Contact Andy Lenderman at 995-3827 or alenderman@sfnewmexican.com.


Anonymous said...

When the layoffs begin in the next year or two, I guess we'll have a good source to blame -- Rep. Udall. And to think, he represents many of the people whose high paying jobs he's going to be destroying. Not a very smart politcal idea. I suspect there will be a vigorous movement to replace Udall during the Democrat primary of 2008. Furthermore, I suspect it will suceed.

Anonymous said...


You back stabbing piece of crap...you are expected to stick up for your voters and protecte them on issues like this. What the hell were you thinking???? And I voted for you...what a mistake.

Anonymous said...

When you choose to work for money rather then cause it's disgusting. I assume you'd rather have a pit production facility rather then an energy research facility. Meaning you'd rather work in a dirty area rather then a clean area. You're considered a whore with no cause but yourself.

Anonymous said...

I do not see a connection between cutting the LANL weapons budget and any increase in funding for energy work.

Anonymous said...

Brace yourselves for a long and painful continuing resolution.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tom,

Just an off the wall idea, but if LANL is going to work on new energy sources they probably need money to pay people.

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Gonna need different people; might as well get rid of some of the deadwood while we're at it.

Oh, and by the way, we already have a *National* energy research lab: NREL.

Anonymous said...

7/18/07 8:36 AM: Have you checked NREL's publications lately? They don't really have many publications in high-profile journals. They produce many "NREL Reports" though...

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

NREL has a tiny budget, compared to LANL, and they are not without their own funding problems. From:


" For NREL the budget allocates $181.5 million for the facility in fiscal year 2008, a 3 percent drop from the $187.5 million in the president's fiscal year 2007 budget. The 2007 budget was never approved by Congress or signed into law, so NREL was funded at roughly 2006 levels. The fiscal year 2006 budget gave NREL $173.8 million."

All of which begs the question: if energy research is so important, and there already is not enough money to adequately fund our one existing national energy lab, then why does anybody think that refunding LANL to do energy work is a workable idea?

Anonymous said...

If we did NREL's work we could get it published in a fluff piece in Nature.

Anonymous said...

"then why does anybody think that refunding LANL to do energy work is a workable idea?"

Because it provides a feel-good justification for cutting the DP work, which is the real agenda of the new Democratic Congress.

Gussie Fink-Nottle said...

"Because it provides a feel-good justification for cutting the DP work, which is the real agenda of the new Democratic Congress."

10:48: You're right, of course. I was obviously being too literal-minded, looking for a logical, rational reason to support the concept of "rebadging" LANL to make it an energy research lab.

Your explanation is both logical and rational.


Anonymous said...

It's very clear that Udall is a card-carrying member of the Santa Fe "shut it down" anti-nuke crowd. It looks like he and his anti-nuke friends may soon get their wish. Thing is, the economic outcome to Northern New Mexico caused by his vote are going to be a real bitch, not that Udall seems to care.

Anonymous said...

Udall is a two-faced sumbitch:

"Udall told KRQE Channel 13 Wednesday that he has been assured the funding cut from the New Mexico labs will be restored as the bill continues to move through Congress." (ABQ Journal 7/19)

So he wants to pander to the Democratic leadership of the House by supporting their version of the bill, while at the same time pandering to his Northern New Mexico constituents by assuring them there will not be any job losses at LANL. Nice sleight of hand.

Don't worry, be happy!

Anonymous said...

Udall is a mindless, brainwashed Mormon, but represents the interests of the "church". The "shun-and-purge" is underway at LANL.