The New Mexican performed an important public service discouraging demagoguery in its Nov. 28 editorial "Chávez demagogues LANL; Udall wants new role for it." It took Marty Chávez (who dropped out of the Senate race Friday) to task for his unsupported claim that Tom Udall is "endangering national security" because of his vote for House cuts to nuclear weapons programs. Far more serious is that sitting members of the New Mexican congressional delegation, Sen. Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson, are making unsupported claims about the House cuts.
In Domenici's response to your editorial, he states "LANL spends only about
60 percent of its federal budget on nuclear weapons work." Instead, in the just-past fiscal year the lab spent 70.4 percent of its budget on core nuclear weapons research and production programs, with some of the remainder supporting those programs. Domenici says the House cuts cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Instead, the House met the administration's cleanup request for all Department of Energy nuclear weapons sites. Domenici says the House cuts 25 percent of LANL's Fiscal Year 2008 budget. The true benchmark is how LANL's budget is cut relative to last year's funding, not to this year's wish list (much of which was for construction of expanded plutonium facilities). That comparison results in around a 15 percent cut to the lab's annual $2.1 billion budget.
Full story here.