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  • STRATCOM Chief backs CMRR-NF Deferral, NWMM, July 13, 2012
    but when the Administration rolled out its Fiscal Year 2013 request for the agency it said that budget belt tightening and Congressional cuts to its FY2012 weapons program budget had forced a change of plans Beyond 13 Still a Concern For his part Kehler has suggested that he won t feel completely comfortable about the modernization plan until there is more known about the future what will happen in FY2014 and beyond Kehler testified this spring that he was concerned with the lack of a plan What is still pending is what happens beyond 13 Kehler said And both the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Energy have written a letter to the congressional committees that describe that we do not yet have a plan in place for 14 and beyond for the weapons complex and that that is work in progress And we will close that work here as we reach the end of the summer and we ll be prepared then to talk about 14 and beyond as we come in next cycle Kehler said it was a priority of his to ensure that the weapons complex continues to receive the attention it needs Our weapons are aging And we face issues in the physical industrial plant and the possibility of erosion of our intellectual capital he said We must protect the important investments for stockpile certification warhead life extension and infrastructure recapitalization To that end StratCom is working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and others to finalize plans for fiscal year 14 and beyond Kehler Modernization Could Lead to Stockpile Cuts He suggested that once the weapons complex was modernized he might be able to support further reductions to the nuclear stockpile below the 1 550 warhead cap established on strategic deployed nuclear

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/NWMM_13Jul2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Oversight board questions nuke lab radiation risk, Associated Press, July 12, 2012
    public Board staff said its calculations indicate the potential for a radiation release from an earthquake induced fire could instead be more than four times higher than levels considered safe for public exposure At issue are the lab s efforts to shore up the 1970s era facility the nation s primary site for working with dangerous plutonium used in nuclear weapons The board has been working closely with the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration to upgrade the building s structure fire suppression and ventilation systems since new studies in 2007 showed the potential for a major earthquake along area faults to be 300 percent greater than previously believed During a public hearing in Santa Fe last year members of the safety oversight board expressed concerns that the planned structural fixes were inadequate to protect the public from a major radioactive release The new calculations are significant in determining what safety controls need to be put in place as work continues on the building board Chairman Peter Winokur told The Associated Press on Wednesday The board s current assessment is the calculations were not done conservatively and the assumptions are not justified he said This is an

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/AP_12July2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • State's Clout Crucial in Lab Funding Fight, ABQ JRNL, July 1, 2012
    insisted This is essential Turner said It goes to the heart of our national security and the heart of our nuclear weapons programs The president needs to find cost reductions elsewhere New Mexico s congressional delegation dominated by Democrats lamented the decision to scrap CMRR but seems powerless at least so far to do anything about it None of the five members sits on appropriations committees that determine congressional spending Meanwhile Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee received billions for a Uranium Processing Center in this year s budget request a DOE decision widely viewed as coming at the expense of CMRR at Los Alamos Some saw the decision as barometer of New Mexico s congressional clout Oak Ridge is not talking about cuts Oak Ridge is talking about gains said former Sen Pete Domenici a New Mexico Republican who funneled billions of dollars to LANL and Sandia during his career as chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Tennessee got their interests satisfied and New Mexico didn t If Domenici who retired in 2008 were still in office he probably wouldn t wield the same power over lab spending in Washington as he did even five years ago Earmarks which allowed members to insert spending line items into appropriations bills have been abolished The now defunct appropriations tool was critical to Domenici s ability to nurture big budgets at New Mexico s labs Domenici said he didn t want to armchair quarterback the current delegation but warned that someone should take the lead in making sure New Mexico s laboratories are protected in Washington Somebody ought to be working on this Domenici said We certainly ought to try to maintain programs that are currently scheduled at LANL and Sandia and not let this happen again like it did with CMRR Rep Martin Heinrich a New Mexico Democrat who sits on the House Armed Services Committee is now running for the U S Senate seat that Bingaman will retire from at the end of the year Heinrich insists he is the best candidate to protect the labs citing proposed budget increases for Sandia National Laboratory as evidence of his work on the Armed Services Committee Former Rep Heather Wilson a Republican who is challenging Heinrich for the Senate disputes his claim Wilson has accused the current congressional delegation of neglecting the labs and claims she will do better The issue of lab spending is likely to be a marquee issue in that campaign Bingaman a Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said the loss of CMRR was about much more than congressional clout He said a runaway national debt coupled with ballooning costs for the project made it vulnerable to an Obama Administration looking for ways to control spending When the National Nuclear Security Administration first asked Congress in 2003 for budget authority to build the replacement building the agency estimated the cost at 500 million and said it would be completed by 2011

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/ABQ_JRNL_1Jul2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • NM's Nuke Dilemma, ABQ Journal North, July 1, 2012
    the U S stockpile With the reduction to 1 550 already under way the Pentagon was now looking at scenarios that could drop the stockpile of deployed U S nuclear weapons further to as low as 300 to 400 the news agency reported It is unclear how many non deployed weapons would be retained under the scenarios being discussed The Obama administration acknowledged a study is under way but would not confirm the numbers President Barack Obama signaled his desire for reduced nuclear arsenals soon after his election with an April 2009 speech in Prague in which he pledged to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons But in the next sentences he signaled the difficulties attached to that pursuit This goal will not be reached quickly perhaps not in my lifetime he said The years since have reflected the tension between the two goals on the one hand reducing the size of the arsenal while on the other hand beefing up the nuclear weapons infrastructure needed to maintain what remains In New Mexico that has resulted in an increase in spending on nuclear weapons work at Sandia and Los Alamos 3 1 billion per year in the administration s most recent budget up 18 percent since the Bush administration Much of that increase has been concentrated at Sandia with Los Alamos seeing more modest gains With loss of other non nuclear weapons money Los Alamos cut 557 staff jobs through buyouts earlier this year And big future planned increases in spending at Los Alamos are in jeopardy after the administration recommended indefinitely delaying work on the massive plutonium complex at the lab In addition to the Pentagon s internal deliberations Former Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman James Cartwright a retired Marine Corps general released a white paper in May arguing that 450 deployed nuclear weapons would be sufficient to meet U S defense needs Officials at the National Nuclear Security Administration the federal agency that funds Los Alamos and Sandia declined a request for an interview for this story But in a presentation earlier this year agency deputy chief Don Cook laid out long range plans for nuclear weapons research and development work at the labs aimed at maintaining existing weapon systems that are largely independent of the size of the arsenal But one key unanswered question according to retired Sandia Labs vice president Bob Peurifoy is whether a reduction in the size of the arsenal would also be accompanied by a reduction in the number of different weapon types There are currently seven different warhead models in the arsenal If that number is reduced Peurifoy said some of the labs weapon specific workload would decline Challenges of a smaller stockpile Maintaining a smaller stockpile creates two challenges for the laboratories according to Hecker a co director of Stanford University s Center for International Security and Cooperation The first is the need for research and development work to extend the lifetime of existing weapons

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/ABQ_JRNL_north_1Jul2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • NW&M Monitor, June 29, 2012
    along with the decision redirecting money that had been expected to go to the project for work on the alternative plan The NNSA in the meantime defended the decision to defer the project as a reflection of economic pressure rather than a statement against the project We always said we need CMRR We still need CMRR Miller said We believe given the budget situation the appropriate course right now is to maintain the capability we need make sure we have the capability we need and do it in a way that allows us to fund the other stuff we need If somebody can figure out how to fund things with all of it with less than we said we needed I am looking forward to hearing it Authorizers Offer Competing Approaches While rule of thumb on Capitol Hill typically gives the edge on funding issues to the lawmakers that actually sign the checks the appropriators Congressional aides have suggested that the authorizers also could have a say on the project this time around Confusing the matter even further however is the fact that the two authorizing committees with jurisdiction over the NNSA took different approaches to reviving the project The Senate Armed Services Committee matched the appropriators 7 6 billion funding level for the NNSA s weapons program but authorized the agency to spend 150 million on the project in FY2013 ordering the agency in bill language to dip into other accounts to come up with the money The committee also placed a 3 7 billion cap on the project In contrast the House cleared version of the FY2013 Defense Authorization Act authorizes 7 9 billion for the NNSA s weapons program including an extra 100 million for CMRR NF and gives the agency the authority to use another 160 million in unspent balances for the project It also would move the project out of the NNSA and under the control of the Pentagon starting in FY2014 which would also shift the project to the Military Construction Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee Underpinning the decisions by both authorizing committees is a concern that the current alternative won t allow the NNSA to meet Defense Department requirements to have the capability to produce 50 to 80 pits a year Both HASC and SASC have on a bipartisan basis voted to reverse President Obama s proposal to renege on his promise to build CMRR one Congressional aide said CMRR is a means to an end CMRR and other key modernization projects are the implementation of a bipartisan policy to build a responsive infrastructure which let s not forget is the President s own policy as described in his 2010 Nuclear Posture Review The staffer said the policy decision is lost in the weeds of the CMRR NF debate This is really about the plutonium related capacity and capability we need So Who Wins Budget experts suggest that the authorizers position is quite tenuous Richard Kogan an expert with the nonpartisan Center on Budgeting

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/NWMM_29Jun2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • NW&M Monitor, June 29, 2012
    surrounding the project Signatories from the arms control left included the Friends Committee on National Legislation and the Los Alamos Study Group From the small government community signatories included Taxpayers for Common Sense and the New Mexico based libertarian leaning Rio Grande Foundation The unusual political alliance echos the split in Congress on the issue with appropriators in the Republican House and Democratic Senate voting to zero out funding for CMRR NF while authorizing committee members in the Republican House and Democratic Senate are pushing to put the money back see related story Groups Favor Plutonium Plan B In their letter the groups challenged committee Chairman Carl Levin D Mich and ranking Republican John McCain R Ariz to ask to see the Plan B produced by the National Nuclear Security Administration for pursuing plutonium work in the absence of CMRR NF It is our understanding that Los Alamos recently released a 60 day study that determined that the Laboratory can maintain its plutonium pit manufacturing and sustainment needs without CMRR NF You have a need to know this vital information which is not available to the public and we urge you and other Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/NWMM2_29Jun2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Competing agendas vie over future of CMRR, Los Alamos Monitor, 9 Jun 2012
    Laboratory and there wouldbe no funding for the CMRR project Congressmen Ben Ray Luján D NM and Martin Heinrich both voted for the measure While the bill is not perfect it does provide critical funding to the national labs including Los Alamos which is critical for New Mexico s economy And even though it does not include additional money I fought to add through an amendment for environmental cleanup at LANL it does provide funds that will address the need to remove toxic waste from the lab s property Luján said in a statement Heinrich who won the Democratic primary in the U S Senate race said It s imperative both for New Mexico s economy and for our national security that we do all we can to provide the necessary financial support for our labs Heinrich said When our labs thrive New Mexico thrives A spokesperson for Heather Wilson who is running against Heinrich in the Senate race blasted the congressman s vote While working families in New Mexico are struggling from Washington s policies Congressman Heinrich is in Washington killing jobs Wilson for Senate spokesman Christopher Sanchez said New Mexicans are tired of Washington politicians who say one

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/LAMonitor_9Jun2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Letter to Congressional colleagues re: Potential amendment to HR5325, June 4, 2012
    decision to update the NNSA standard which may save billions of taxpayer dollars in new construction and operational expenses was made late last year Also some of the longer term requirements driving the project were finally understood to be uncertain at best if not obsolete DoD and other reviews emphasized the potential national security costs of proceeding with the project at the same time as several other NNSA projects that were better justified Accordingly in the President s budget request this year no funds were requested for this project The plan now preferred by all the national security agencies is to defer the project for at least five years and implement the new alternatives while restudying the project s basic requirements So far 635 million has been appropriated for this building called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility CMRR NF These funds have been for design which is far from complete despite having been underway for a decade There are no plans to complete design this year or in the near future The House Armed Services committee estimates that after the present fiscal year 160 million M will remain unspent All of NNSA s projects have cost overruns and the agency would prefer to spend those funds elsewhere House and Senate appropriators in their bills would apply the unspent balances to fund alternatives to the massive building in NNSA s Plutonium Sustainment program House appropriators would also return 65 M in unspent funds to the Treasury The total project cost has increased by a factor of about sixteen 16 since 2001 The estimated cost per square foot of useful space has increased by a factor of 45 since 2003 Appropriations committees in both houses have issued FY13 Energy and Water Appropriations bills that do not fund the project H R 532 Bill pdf Report pdf S 246 Bill pdf Report pdf By contrast the two armed services committees have issued FY13 National Defense Authorization Act NDAA bills that propose reviving the project H R 4310 Bill pdf Report part 1 pdf Report part 2 pdf S 2467 press release pdf DOE and NNSA have been the Government Accountability Office s GAO s Watch List for agencies most prone to waste and bad management for 20 years DOE and NNSA project management is universally criticized this building is a textbook example of management failure There is plenty of blame to go around The armed services committees would reward this failure and increase the federal deficit by pushing this unwanted project onto a very reluctant national security community This project is now opposed by ALL the national security agencies and by the two appropriations committees It is also opposed by arms control organizations as well as by budget hawks on the political right such as the Cato Institute and the libertarian Rio Grande Foundation in New Mexico Leadership in promoting CMRR NF over these national security objections is coming from Rep Michael Turner Chairman of the House Strategic Forces Subcommittee

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/ActionAlerts/Ltr_Congress_HR5325_4Jun2012.html (2016-02-16)
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