Former New York Times Reporter to Talk on State of Nuclear Threats and Possibility of a Nuclear 9-11

Phillip Taubman

Former New York Times reporter Philip Taubman talks about the current state of nuclear threats, including Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, and the possibility of a nuclear 9-11 at a presentation beginning at 6 p.m. March 15 at Los National Laboratory’s Bradbury Science Museum.

Taubman also will talk about his newly published book, “The Partnership: Five Cold Warriors and Their Quest to Ban the Bomb.”

The talk is open to the public; seating is limited to 100.

Taubman is a former Moscow and Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the New York Times.

He worked at the Times for more than 30 years and also worked at Esquire and Time.

He was twice awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting and for Foreign Affairs Reporting.

Now a consulting professor at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, Taubman in his book explores in-depth the bipartisan efforts of George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry, Sam Nunn, and Sid Drell to reduce nuclear threats and ultimately abolish nuclear weapons.

A book signing at the Otowi Station Bookstore next door to the museum follows Taubman’s talk.

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LANL Schedules Three Community Forums

LANL News:

Los Alamos National Laboratory is hosting three Northern New Mexico community forums about the Lab’s voluntary workforce separation program now under way.

The public is invited to ask questions and get answers about Lab workforce action starting Monday, March 12.

Employees, spouses and the general public are welcome to attend.

Lab officials will be on hand to answer questions:

  • March 12 in Pojoaque, 6-7:30 p.m., Cities of Gold Conference Center
  • March 13 in Española, 6-7:30 p.m., Nick L. Salazar Center for the Arts, Northern New Mexico College
  • March 14 in Los Alamos, 6-7:30 p.m., Duane Smith Auditorium

On March 1, LANL announced it received government approval to reduce its workforce by between 400 and 800 employees through a voluntary separation program.

Clairvoyance and Confusion: Some Remarks on Composite Hypothesis Testing

By James Theiler, LANL

James Theiler of the Space and Remote Sensing Sciences Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory is presenting a talk at 12:15 p.m. Friday in the Medium Conference Room at the Santa Fe Institute:

Abstract: The composite hypothesis testing problem is one of the great unsolved problems of statistics — but it is not unsolved because it is particularly hard; it is unsolved because it is fundamentally ambiguous. It is also enormously useful: it lies at the core of what it means to do science, and provides a nice framework to do target detection in multispectral imagery.

For simple hypothesis testing, the aim is to distinguish which of two hypotheses is most consistent with observed data. This problem is straightforward, and unambiguously optimal solutions can be expressed in terms of likelihood ratios.

It gets confusing (or composite) when the aim instead is to distinguish between two families of hypotheses. The “clairvoyant” solution chooses a single member from each family and then uses the simple likelihood ratio. Although the clairvoyant solution isn’t very useful by itself (since, by the very statement of the problem, you don’t know which member to choose), it provides a valuable building block for constructing more effective solutions to the composite hypothesis testing problem.

For 50+ years, the so-called generalized likelihood ratio (GLR) has been the workhorse solution for composite hypothesis testing problems, and for good reason: it is straightforward, unambiguous, and quite general. But it is not the only solution, and (except for a very few cases) it is not the optimal solution.

Among the alternatives is a recently introduced class of solutions that goes by the name “clairvoyant fusion” — the GLR is a special case of clairvoyant fusion (which makes CF a kind of generalized GLR), but the other cases provide new ways to solve composite hypothesis testing problems. This talk will ask some questions about clairvoyant fusion: is it really new? is it any good? how can you tell?

Bayesian zealots will wonder why this abstract has not said anything about their favorite topic. Well, it just did. And so will the talk.

Congressional Candidate Blasts Opponent, Calls on Congress to Halt LANL Layoffs

Candidate Rick Newton News:

Rick Newton

Rick Newton, Taos Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in District 3, blasted opponent Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-NM, in a news release, charging him with endangering national security and for having an uncaring attitude toward the nearly 800 people losing their jobs at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

Newton ripped incumbent Lujan saying, “Once again, Lujan has chosen the narrow partisan interests of President Obama over the jobs of highly skilled workers in northern New Mexico. Lujan actually said ‘LANL is not immune from these cuts in the President’s budget,’ as though they were only trimming a little fat out of the Obama administration’s bloated government.”

Newton, a nuclear physicist who worked as an analyst for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), expressed his “disgust at Lujan’s blasé attitude” toward the careers of those losing jobs and the precarious position in which Lujan and President Obama have placed national security, he said.

“These professionals must not be treated like commodities that can be bought and sold on a whim,” Newton said. “These are some of the most well-educated, highly-trained and most sought after scientists in the world. It could be very difficult to replace them once real leadership and sanity return to the Department of Energy after the 2012 election.

“The CMRR Facility is the key to ensuring that this great nation maintains its deterrent against the threat of nuclear war. President Obama is considering three plans, which could unilaterally cut our deployed strategic warheads by as much as 80 percent – from 1,550 agreed to in last year’s New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the Russian Federation to as few as 300.”

Reflecting on the global threat, Newton stressed that by recent accounts; China has well over 300 warheads in its strategic arsenal and is currently engaged in a nuclear weapons modernization program.

“Even rogue nations like North Korea could build up their stockpiles to over 300 warheads over time and present a real threat to their neighbors and the United States, Newton said. “It’s unthinkable that Ben Ray Lujan and President Obama would abandon the nuclear deterrent that assured our nation’s security throughout the Cold War and especially now in the face of the additional growing threats from the build-up in China, North Korea and the emerging threat from Iran.”

Newton said that given the current stockpile of nuclear warheads by the Russian Federation and the unknown size of the Chinese stockpile, it would be foolish to consider reducing U.S. deployed warheads below 1,550.

“To maintain that level and firmly establish an effective nuclear deterrent, LANL’s CMRR Facility remains critically important because the existing W76 and W88 warheads need to be replaced by the new Reliable Replacement Warheads (RRW),” he said. “Therefore, I will urge the 113th Congress to provide funding for the RRW development program and the completion of the CMRR Facility. I believe that Republicans who support the nuclear deterrent will win the Senate and White House in the 2012 General Election. Provided that Congress funds these programs in 2013, the buy-out of up to 800 employees by April 5, 2012, with as much as nine month’s salary as the incentive provides practically no savings at all. Congress should halt the layoffs and hold hearings to consider my proposal.”

Newton, who reports that he worked as a Soviet nuclear weapon analyst during the SALT I negotiations, pointed out that the United States’ overwhelming nuclear deterrent held in reserve is what prevents other nations with one or more nuclear weapons from actually using them. Furthermore, that deterrent encourages less powerful nations to negotiate and accommodate alternatives to high-intensity nuclear warfare, he said.

“Given the current stockpile of nuclear warheads by the Russian Federation and the unknown size of the Chinese stockpile, it would be foolish to consider reducing our deployed warheads below 1,550,” Newton said. “To maintain that level and firmly establish an effective nuclear deterrent, LANL’s CMRR Facility remains critically important because the existing W76 and W88 warheads need to be replaced by the new Reliable Replacement Warheads. Therefore, I will urge the 113th Congress to provide funding for the RRW development program and the completion of the CMRR Facility.

“I believe that Republicans who support the nuclear deterrent will win the Senate and White House in the 2012 General Election. Provided that Congress funds these programs in 2013, the buy-out of up to 800 employees by April 5, with as much as nine month’s salary as the incentive, provides practically no savings at all. Congress should halt the layoffs and hold hearings to consider my proposal.”

“Newton, who reports that he worked as a Soviet nuclear weapons analyst during the SALT I negotiations, pointed out that “Our overwhelming nuclear deterrent held in reserve is what prevents other nations with one or more nuclear weapons from actually using them. Furthermore, that deterrent encourages less powerful nations to negotiate and accommodate alternatives to high-intensity nuclear warfare.”

Dr. John C. Hopkins to Lecture on ‘The Cold War and U.S. Nuclear Weapons: From My Perspective’

Mushroom-shaped cloud and water column from the underwater Baker nuclear explosion of July 25, 1946. Photo taken from a tower on Bikini Island, 3.5 miles away. Courtesy Photo

Los Alamos Historical Society News:

 

John Hopkins

Dr. John C. Hopkins will speak at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fuller Lodge on “The Cold War and U.S. Nuclear Weapons: From My Perspective” as part of the Los Alamos Historical Society’s 2011-2012 lecture series.

“Nuclear weapons, and hence Los Alamos, played a major role during the Cold War.

Immediately after World War II, the task at Los Alamos was to rebuild the staff following the mass exodus that took place with the surrender of Japan.

Hostility with the Soviet Union, that had origins going back to the Russian Revolution, was exacerbated by Soviet belligerence in Europe following the War.

Consequently the United States looked to nuclear weapons to counter the vast land army of the Soviet Union.

The world changed in August 1949 when the Soviet Union had their first nuclear test.

The 1950s witnessed enormous changes in nuclear weapons and the rationale for their use.

These were the golden years for Los Alamos when the lab enjoyed strong support in Washington.

Numerous technical advances were made from the development of very small weapons to the very largest hydrogen bombs.

The 1960s saw an evolution in nuclear weapons policy and, toward the end of the decade, the beginning of a long downward trend in the numbers of weapons in the stockpile.

The 1970s and ‘80s saw the development of the most sophisticated weapons with reduced weight, size and use of nuclear materials.

Finally the Cold War came to an end in the 1990s and Los Alamos started a new chapter in a long and distinguished history.”

Hopkins is a nuclear physicist with a 1960 Ph.D. from the University of Washington in Seattle and a Fellow of the American Physical Society with over 40 publications.

He retired in December 1993, after 34 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory researching nuclear physics, performing and leading nuclear weapons testing, and then as leader of the entire nuclear weapons program at Los Alamos.

He was leader of the Center for National Security Studies at Los Alamos and a technical advisor to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in Washington and in Geneva.

Hopkins has worked closely with the State, Energy, and Defense Departments and has participated in numerous special programs for the U.S. Government.

This year, the Centennial Lecture Series celebrates 100 years of Los Alamos History and New Mexico Statehood. Lectures are the second Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the Pajarito Room of Fuller Lodge. Lectures. The lectures are free and open to the public, because of the generosity of Los Alamos National Bank and the donations of members of the Historical Society.

Newly Formed ‘Regional Coalition of LANL Communities’ Travels to DC Regarding LANL and WIPP Funding

Members of the Regional Coalition pause for a photo during their busy trip to Washington, D.C. this week. From left, Elmer Torres, Pueblo de San Ildefonso; Commissioner Danny Mayfield, Santa Fe County; Commissioner Jack Volpato, Eddy County; County Council Chairwoman Sharon Stover, Los Alamos County; County Administrator Harry Burgess, Los Alamos County; Board of Commissioners Vice-Chair Andrew Chavez, Taos County; Mayor David Coss, City of Santa Fe; Mayor Alice Lucero, City of Espanola; Rep. Jim Hall, New Mexico State Legislature; Secretary F. David Martin, New Mexico Environment Department; Seth Kirshenberg, Kutak-Rock; Energy Development Coordinator John Heaton, City of Carlsbad. Courtesy Photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The delegation from Northern and Southern New Mexico communities are unified in their desire to see Congress fund clean up of environmental waste sites at Los Alamos – that was the clear message when they traveled to Washington, D.C. earlier this week. 
The newly formed Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (Coalition) along with representatives of the State of New Mexico, the San Ildefonso Pueblo and Southern New Mexico communities, made their inaugural visit to the nation’s capitol and expressed strong support for increased cleanup funding during an unprecedented series of meetings.
In just two days, they took their message to the New Mexico Congressional Delegation, Department of Energy (DOE) officials and congressional staff members to discuss the need for adequate cleanup funding for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). 
It was the first time this diverse group of Northern and Southern New Mexico local, Pueblo, and state government officials had traveled together to Washington, D.C. to deliver a unified message of support for cleanup to Congress and DOE.
 
“Federal dollars are critical to the clean-up of legacy waste at LANL,” said New Mexico Environment Department Secretary F. David Martin. “The people of New Mexico deserve to have immediate environmental objectives met regarding the clean-up, such as safely removing above-ground transuranic waste and protecting ground water, surface water, and drinking water for the surrounding communities.”
 
“It meant a great deal to see these individuals from across New Mexico standing here united today in DC with a common goal: we need Congress to fund and support cleanup activities. The last time I saw this united effort was after the Cerro Grande Fire in 2000, when the LANL contract was up for bid,” said Sharon Stover, Chair of the Los Alamos County Council.
 
In addition to Stover and Martin, the Coalition members on the trip included Mayor David Coss, City of Santa Fe; Elmer Torres, Pueblo de San Ildefonso; County Administrator Harry Burgess, Los Alamos County; Mayor Alice Lucero, City of Española; Commissioner Danny Mayfield, Santa Fe County; Commissioner Jack Volpato, Eddy County; Board of Commissioners Vice Chair Andrew Chavez, Taos County; Rep. Jim Hall, New Mexico State Legislature; and Energy Development Coordinator John Heaton, City of Carlsbad. 
The group met with Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall; Representatives Ben Ray Luján, Martin Heinrich and Steve Pearce; NNSA Administrator Tom D’Agostino; Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Environmental Management Tracy Mustin; Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Pete Lyons; the Senate and House Armed Services Committee Staff Members; Senate Appropriations Committee Staff Members and other DOE and Washington officials. 
 
Members of the Coalition were emphatic in stressing during their visit that clean up should continue, as several of them expressed in comments made after the meetings. Mayor Coss stressed that  clean up is a key component that should not be overlooked when Congress considers funding LANL programs and supporting their mission.
 
“Continued progress on cleanup of legacy containments is essential to protect our communities’ water and lands.  Doing a good job on cleanup provides jobs and allows all of us in New Mexico to focus on a positive future with LANL,” he said.
 
Elmer Torres, traveling to DC to represent San Ildefonso Pueblo, and Commissioner Danny Mayfield from Santa Fe County agreed with Coss.
 
“LANL’s continued effort for cleanup is important and impacts all cultural and traditional aspects. Without an overall clean environment, traditional activities cannot and will not be carried out. With the support of additional funding for cleanup and removal of waste, this will reduce the chance of any future contamination,” said Torres.
 
“These were very important meetings to have as a united bipartisan group focusing on the environmental needs of our communities to cleanup all the waste at the Laboratory to ensure protection for the region,” Mayfield added.
 
During discussions on Monday and Tuesday, the group emphasized the importance of moving transuranic (TRU) waste currently stored at Area G at LANL to WIPP.
Secretary Martin led the discussions, reiterating the need for LANL and WIPP to be fully funded in order meet the goals and milestones in the newly developed Framework Agreement. 
In addition to getting TRU waste moved to the WIPP facility, the Coalition discussed the importance of ensuring that groundwater is safe and stormwater is not contaminated. 
Secretary Martin urged DOE and the Delegation to push for a cleanup budget of $255 million for LANL and $229 million for WIPP. Secretary Martin also stated that the State is not interested in amending the existing Consent Order unless there is adequate funding and demonstrated progress to move forward with the Framework Agreement. 
 
In meetings with Senators Bingaman and Udall and Representatives Luján, Heinrich and Pearce, the entire New Mexico Congressional Delegation expressed support for cleanup at LANL and said they would work to make sure there is adequate funding. 
Senators Bingaman and Udall, as well as Representative Lujan,  told the delegation today that they are planning to meet with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and NNSA Administrator Tom D’Agostino and Gov. Susana Martinez’ representative Brian Moore later this week to discuss cleanup issues.
  
“Clearly, the members of the Coalition were very interested in asking questions during our meetings about NNSA priorities- top projects that, in our opinion, appear to have changed in prioritization over these last few months,” Stover said. “For example,  CMRR was not funded recently, and yet we had been told it was the number one defense issue for NNSA just three months ago. We were seeking answers to find out what happened. While we didn’t get any direct answers from NNSA, we were all glad to hear that the delegation was meeting with Secretary Chu this week. We feel that they heard our concerns and are going to be assertive in getting us some specific answers.”
 
John Heaton, representing the City of Carlsbad, echoed those sentiments, and said the lack of funding has consequences that are far reaching for both northern and southern New Mexico.
 
“The characterization budget of WIPP was cut $15 million, which is the function that gets the TRU waste on the road from the sites.  Without adequate characterization money and additional maintenance money to keep WIPP safe, it will be impossible for DOE to meet its commitments to remove the TRU waste from Los Alamos,” he said.
 
Eddy County Commissioner Jack Volpato agreed with Heaton.
 
“Removing the waste from Los Alamos is important. We have the capability of accomplishing the task in two years if it’s adequately funded,” he said. 
 
At the conclusion of Tuesday’s meetings, other members of the Coalition said they felt they had made their points well-known, and that the delegation was listening.
 
Mayor Alice Lucero said she supports the Coalition to represent the City of Española, which has thousands of residents who commute to work at LANL every day.
She said the community is very interested in seeing clean up continue in Los Alamos, but also wants to see the economy remain strong, too, since LANL is a major employer for Northern New Mexico communities such as hers.
 
“It is essential that LANL gets adequate funding for cleanup, since the quality of water is important to us; however, the elimination of jobs at LANL has had an adverse impact on the economy in the Española Valley,” she said.
 
Andrew Chavez, Vice Chair of the Taos County Commission, said that to him, the economic impacts coming from recent cuts to Lab funding were about more than just the immediate future of Los Alamos, and that was one of the messages he wanted to convey to the delegation during the trip.
 
“We need to keep LANL healthy to continue to provide career opportunities for our children and economic stability for Northern New Mexico now and into the future,” he said.
 
Rep. Jim Hall said he felt the Coalition drove home their points with the delegation, and that they were empathetic, responsive and willing to take action on behalf of New Mexico.
 
“After hard work by NNSA officials, the New Mexico Environment Department and LANL staff, we have reached an agreement on an aggressive schedule for moving above ground TRU waste to WIPP. Unfortunately, this agreement came about late in the President’s budget process, so a lack of funding for the project threatens timely completion. The LANL coalition has come together and visited Washington to advocate for full funding for cleanup and has all of our support,” Hall said. 
 
“The fact that we had a coalition of communities from across the state, all carrying a common message, appeared to be influential in each of the meetings we attended. This trip was an important first step for the Regional Coalition, and hopefully the investments made by each participating community will result in an increased budget — and therefore accelerated cleanup — to the benefit of both the environment and economy of New Mexico,” said Los Alamos County Administrator Harry Burgess.
 
Stover said that the delegation have committed to following up with the Coalition after their meeting with Chu this week, and that they intend to keep meeting on a monthly basis to discuss items of interest and concern at LANL.
 
“This wasn’t just a one-time trip,” she said. “This is a great group of individuals who are about their communities – who realize the importance of funding these kinds of activities for LANL and WIPP to the benefit of all of New Mexico. We are committed to carrying this forward to the next step, and continuing to be fully engaged with our representatives at the state and national level.”

Heather Wilson Holding Los Alamos Town Hall Meeting to Hear Public’s Concerns About LANL Job Cuts

By Carol A. Clark

U.S. Senatorial Candidate Heather Wilson

U.S. Senatorial candidate Heather Wilson is traveling to Los Alamos next week to learn first-hand the concerns people have about the projected 400-800 jobs to be cut through a voluntary reduction in the workforce at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Wilson encourages the public to attend her town hall meeting beginning at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14 at the Best Western Hilltop House Hotel.

“I’m afraid it is only the beginning. I expect there will be hundreds more jobs lost unless we change direction,” Wilson said in response to the recent announcement that LANL will start the voluntary lay-off of 400-800 employees as the result of President Obama’s budget cuts.

“One of the best ways to provide for our defense needs would be to reduce excessive red tape from Washington and move more of the budget into programs,” she said. “The President’s budget includes almost $500 million a year in National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) administrative costs. We would be better off as a nation if most of this money were moved to programs like CMRR at Los Alamos. Having helped create the NNSA as a semi-autonomous agency attached to DOE, it is now clear to me that the change did not take hold. The priority should be science — not paying for layers of bureaucracy.”

Wilson served in the United States Air Force until 1989 when she was chosen to serve as director for European Defense Policy and Arms Control on the National Security Council staff, the President’s principal forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and cabinet officials.

Wilson went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives from New Mexico’s 1st District from June 25, 1998 to Jan. 3, 2009.

For information about Wilson’s town hall meeting, contact Wilson’s Los Alamos Campaign Coordinator JoAnn Johnson at 662-7981.

Wilson’s House Committee Assignments:

  • Committee on Energy and Commerce (1997-1998)
    • Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality
    • Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials
    • Subcommittee on Health
    • Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet
  • Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (1999–2008)
  • Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence (Chair & Ranking Member)
  • Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
  • Committee on Armed Services (2001–2004)

Local Leaders Among 12 New Mexico Officials in Washington Seeking Funds for TRU Waste Mission

The legacy waste in these large, fiberglass-reinforced boxes was reclassified as mixed low-level waste, helping accelerate removal of TRU waste from Area G. Courtesy/LANL

By Carol A. Clark

A 12-person contingent from New Mexico including three people from Los Alamos flew to Washington, D.C. Sunday in preparation for two days of high-level meetings.

“One of the primary areas of focus is to gather support for funding for legacy clean up at LANL,” said Assistant County Administrator Steven Lynne of the impetus for the trip.

Today’s schedule included meetings with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, meetings with the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces and with Sen. Tom Udall.

The first meeting set in the morning is with NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino followed by meetings with Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Rep. Steve Pearce, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Rep. Martin Heinrich. A meeting also is scheduled with Frank Marcinouski and Mark Gilbertson of Environmental Management.

On Wednesday, some members of the group will spend time at a New Mexico Association of Counties conference in Washington before flying home that evening.

‘Our schedule is flexible because all the people we are seeing are very busy and things come up,” said Rep. Jim Hall during a telephone interview this afternoon.

Hall explained that the contingent is staying tightly focused.

“The focus of this trip is trying to get money for the legacy clean up,” he said. “DOE, LANL and the environmental department made an agreement to take above ground TRU (transuranic) waste off the hill and they agreed it’s got to be the first priority – unfortunately the president’s budget doesn’t quite cover it.”

Hall said in order to ensure there is enough money to complete the mission, the contingent is talking to Washington leaders about providing between $15-$20 million to LANL’s budget to move the above ground transuranic waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad. The group also is talking about a similar amount being added to the WIPP budget.

“I think we’re doing an excellent job of coming across as being united – focused on the clean up – and it’s a matter of finding the money,” Hall said. “We keep hearing that the budget is really constrained now.”

Hall said the contingent on this particular trip is not bringing up the voluntary reduction in force program underway at LANL.

Joining Hall in Washington are Los Alamos County Council Chair Sharon Stover and County Administrator Harry Burgess, Cabinet Secretary David Martin of the New Mexico Environment Department, Espanola Mayor Alice Lucero, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, Taos County Commissioner Andrew Chavez, Carlsbad Energy Development Coordinator John Heaton, Santa Fe County Commissioner Daniel Mayfield, San Ildefonso Pueblo Official Elmer Torres and Rio Arriba Commissioner Alfredo L. Montoya.

Governor Susana Martinez’ Washington, D.C. Office Director Brian Moore also is part of the contingent.

Los Alamos County is paying the expenses for Hall, Stover and Burgess. The rest of the group is responsible for covering their own expenses.

“When you look at the collection of folks with diverse needs and view points all understanding the importance of this issue – it’s very gratifying,” said Assistant to the Los Alamos County Administrator Brian Bosshardt.

The New Mexico Contingent:

Harry Burgess

Jim Hall

Sharon Stover

Alice Lucero

David Coss

David Martin

Alfredo Montoya

Daniel Mayfield

Andrew Chavez

John Heaton

Brian Moore

Elmer Torres

Wilson Reacts to Los Alamos Job Lay-Offs Saying ‘Los Alamos Lab Needs a Fighter’

Heather Wilson News

Senatorial Candidate Heather Wilson

ALBUQUERQUE — Heather Wilson, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, released the following statement in response to the recent announcement that Los Alamos National Laboratory will start a voluntary lay-off of 400-800 employees as the result of President Obama’s budget cuts.

“400-800 jobs lost at Los Alamos will affect a lot of families and businesses in Los Alamos and Rio Arriba County,” Wilson said. “I’m afraid it is only the beginning. I expect there will be hundreds more jobs lost unless we change direction.

“A little over a year ago, President Obama made a commitment to modernize our nuclear weapons complex in order to maintain a safe, reliable nuclear deterrent at lower levels of forces. That commitment included replacing a 60-year-old facility at Los Alamos for handling plutonium. In his new budget, however, President Obama has broken that commitment. And as a result, an estimated 1,000 jobs will be killed for 10 years in Los Alamos.

“One of the best ways to provide for our defense needs would be to reduce excessive red tape from Washington and move more of the budget into programs. The President’s budget includes almost $500 million a year in National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) administrative costs. We would be better off as a nation if most of this money were moved to programs like CMRR at Los Alamos. Having helped create the NNSA as a semi-autonomous agency attached to DOE, it is now clear to me that the change did not take hold. The priority should be science — not paying for layers of bureaucracy.

“I believe we need a handful of people who will steward our nation’s defense even in a time of peace. New Mexico needs someone who will fight for our laboratories — someone who understands our state’s unique contributions to national security. I intend to stand up for New Mexico and fight for our labs when I am elected to the U.S. Senate.”

Luján Tells Chu Funding Cuts are Choking Scientific and Engineering Capabilities at LANL

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan News

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District expressed his concerns with budget cuts to Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in a Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing with Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu

Below are Luján and Secretary Chu’s remarks during the hearing. Click here to watch their exchange.

 

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan

Rep. Luján: Dr. Chu, in your prepared testimony you state that with the new START treaty, “the science, technology and engineering capabilities within the nuclear security enterprise will become even more important to sustaining the U.S. nuclear deterrent.”

President Obama during his State of the Union this last year said, “Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally-financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched.’ He goes on to say that we shouldn’t ‘gut these investments in our budget. Don’t let other countries win the race for the future.”

I’d like to focus on this theme of nurturing the scientific and engineering capabilities of the NNSA laboratories. With the 2013 budget request NNSA’s budget will have increased about 10 percent from 2011. Yet over this same two-year time frame the budget to Los Alamos National Laboratory will have decreased by about 10 percent. This is about a $300 million decrease in just two years and chokes the scientific and engineering capabilities at the lab.

Because of these budget cuts, the lab has requested a voluntary reduction in force incentive program with the goal of eliminating 400 to 800 jobs. This reduces the true source of scientific and engineering capability, the men and women who have served the nation there and who have the experience and training that is difficult and expensive to replace.

And finally, a recent National Academies report warned that distrustful oversight by NNSA, in which individual transactions are reviewed at every step, is harming the vitality and long-term viability of the science and engineering capability at the NNSA labs.

When you combine all of these – distrustful and harmful oversight with a significant loss of personnel and reduction of funding over multiple years – you get a very damaging set of events that could do permanent harm to the lab, and my district and the northern part of New Mexico.

So Mr. Secretary, I have a lot of respect for you, but I have a lot of concern with what’s happening at Los Alamos. As I look at the budget it looks like Los Alamos took a much greater hit than any of the other labs, and quite honestly, almost as much as the other labs combined.

So Mr. Secretary, what I’m looking for is some assurance, some long-term commitment: one to see how we can fix the arbitrary hits that were targeted to Los Alamos, as well as a commitment to Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Secretary Chu: Well certainly Los Alamos National Laboratory is an excellent laboratory, but within our budget constraints going forward we do have to make hard decisions. Certainly Los Alamos is going to be an essential part of the future of the NNSA laboratories. Those hard decisions are going to be made, but we feel that they have not only a very rich past, but an outstanding group of scientists and engineers in that laboratory and will be a vital part of the NNSA mission.

Rep. Luján: I appreciate it Mr. Secretary and I look forward to hopefully meeting with you soon with Senator Bingaman. I know our request has gone into yourself and Mr. D’Agostino, and we look forward to having those conversations about the commitment to Los Alamos.