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Bulletin #103: Now is the time to ask your local government and congressional delegation to think before embracing Obama’s nuclear weapons juggernaut.

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November 23, 2010

What you can do – please act now!

            If you live in Santa Fe County it is very important to call or write your County Commissioners right away and ask them to support the Joint City/County Resolution requesting a full environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed Los Alamos plutonium complex, which is on the Commission agenda for the November 30, 2010 meeting.  Please write:

Commissioner Mike Anaya

Commissioner Kathy Holian

Commissioner Harry Montoya

Commissioner Liz Stefanics

Commissioner Virginia Vigil

You can brief yourself using these new “Frequently Asked Questions” (pdf), which is up-to-date.  This is the single best resource we have for most citizens right now.

      Remember, this resolution only requests a full, proper EIS and does not express opposition to the project.  It only asks NNSA to follow the law. 

            Please come to the Santa Fe County Commission meeting on Tuesday, November 30, at 11:00 am at the County building at 102 Grant Avenue.  It is very important to be there in person and to speak if necessary. 

            If you do not live in Santa Fe County but do live in Taos, Rio Arriba, or Sandoval counties, please call your county commissioners and ask them to sponsor a resolution asking for an EIS, preferably with a pause to investment in the project in the meantime.  If you live in an incorporated town, talk to your town councilors to the same end.  The City of Santa Fe has already acted. 

            If you do not live in these environmentally affected areas, call your congressperson and senator and ask them to halt funding for this outrageous project. 

      If you haven’t done so, please consider helping support our efforts financially.  You can send a check to the address at the bottom of this Bulletin or donate by credit card here.  Talk to your friendsSpread the word!  Encourage your friends to join by sending a blank email to

Dear colleagues,
We are making headway in preventing construction of the proposed plutonium factory complex in Los Alamos.  If you aren’t yet working with us in one way or another, we could use your help now, please! 
As you have read (in Bulletin #102), new procurements on this project have been halted, thanks to our lawsuit.  The Department of Energy (DOE) and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) cannot legally proceed without a valid EIS.  Work is still being done under existing contracts.

What’s more, in the recent update to the Section 1251 Report (pdf), the completion date of the project has been set back one year, to 2023.  Our efforts are beginning to bite. 
Now is the time to step up your educational and political efforts.  It will really make a difference. 
Those of you on this list who work for the Department of Energy (DOE) and its contractors, you are welcome to help too.  If you care about responsible government, we are on your side. 
This project needs an EIS and cannot proceed without one.  But will the law matter?  The November 15 "Quote of the Day" from the New York Times was spot-on: "If you want to use the civil justice system, you have to have money.  If there's less money, you'd have less litigation.  But then you'd also have less justice." 

What we have done so far has been made possible by many of you.  I don't ask very often, but now we really need your financial help.  Our efforts are at a crucial stage.  We can beat this thing, but we could sure use your help.  

Some of you are already helping, some of you a lot.  It's because of you that we have gotten this far.  If you are of modest means, see if you can bundle your contribution with those of others.  Build political awareness in your friendship networks.  It’s crucial, for the children and the earth. 

Some of you can write big checks.  Some of you know others who can.  Now is the time, please.  If you aren't ready, ask us to speak to you and your friends.  Turn reasonable questions into opportunities for all of us to learn. 

I am also asking for you to reach out to other donors, please, especially potential major donors.  We just don't have your friends and connections, and all our time is used up in this lawsuit, working with Congress, and in other forums.  Please put your credibility on the line for us, just a little.  That's the only way it works.  I am requesting your concrete advocacy on behalf of our work, with the specific goal of helping us raise money from major donors. 

More Details, reflections, and some Tools you can use

This one monster building would cost about six times as much as all the Manhattan Project spending in New Mexico, corrected for inflation. 
Its cost per square foot is roughly 35 times what similar space cost during the Cold War at Los Alamos, again in constant dollars.  That, and its scale, is why this project is a bellwether for our society.  At those unprecedented prices something – our society or the project – has to break. 
That’s part of the point.  The folks planning this thing at LANL know perfectly well the sorry state of federal finance.   Nevertheless they are bending every effort to make sure the federal government is fully vested in this project before the full crisis hits.  Their primary consideration is to make sure they, and the rest of nation’s nuclear establishment, end up on top.  Social needs, renewable energy, avoiding climate catastrophe, and in final analysis human survival – all these are expendable goals, just like they have always been in the nuclear bomb business.  Like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove, we are supposed to straddle The Bomb all the way down, leaving all human and natural life behind. 
Not long ago I spoke with a man who signed off on this project in 2001, when it was to cost $375 million (for two buildings).  He said he now believed the project should not be built, not at the prices being quoted today.  This man is a nuclear weapons manager with great responsibilities in government.  His is not the only powerful voice of dissent.  We know of many. 
When and if completed (no less than 13 years from now), Big Plutonium’s needs for money, security, and political support would loom large in northern New Mexico, like Goya’s “Colossus.”  Who could oppose it?  As capital resources grow scarce this monster would always have to be fed.  The first victims of the new bombs, even before they took on material form, before the emissions and the increased waste disposal even began, would be us, the neighbors. 
The scale and nature of this project are simply incompatible with a green, sustainable future in this state or anywhere.  This is not “business as usual.”  If we don’t stop it, there will be hell to pay as a result of the converging crises we face.  We and our kids will pay it. 

The purpose of this behemoth nuclear weapons factory, and another planned for Tennessee, is to extend and expand U.S. commitment to holocaustic weapons roughly as far into the future as we have come since Hiroshima.
We can win this struggle because the proposed plutonium complex has profound problems.  Not least of these is its staggering price tag, now as high as $5.8 billion or $244,000/sq. ft. of underground lab.  Several hundred million dollars are also required for waste management facilities and other production-related upgrades (some of which are needed for safety). 

To review how things stood ten days ago, see our last Bulletin (11/13/10, #102).
We subsequently issued this press release (NNSA halts procurement on plutonium warhead factory, "modernization" centerpiece at Los Alamos, Nov 15, 2010). 
You might want to see this: Procurements Related to CMRR-NF Process on Hold Due to NEPA Review, Nuclear Weapons Materials Monitor, (pdf 160KB) Nov 15, 2010
We have created a new web page to make our litigation more accessible to the general public.  See CMRR Nuclear Facility: Litigation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Two excellent articles appeared in the regional press:

We published these FAQs: Los Alamos' Proposed Plutonium Pit Palace, frequently asked questions (pdf) and, as a contribution to NNSA’s bad-faith NEPA “compliance” effort, these CMRR-NF SEIS scoping comments, which opens a badly-needed discussion of alternatives to the CMRR-NF. 
The latest Obama Administration nuclear weapons commitments can be found in the Update to the National Defense Authorization Act of FY2010 Section 1251 Report, New START Treaty Framework and Nuclear Force Structure Plans, Nov 2010 (pdf 192KB)

We have also published an earlier paper, written at the request of colleagues at Princeton, U.S. Plutonium "Pit" Production: Additional Facilities, Production, Restart are Unnecessary, Costly, and Provocative (pdf), March 2, 2010.  This paper addresses most of the “purpose and need” for the CMRR-NF. 

This has been a very lively issue this past ten days, and we want to share more with you, but this is probably more than enough. 
Please join with us.  We have given you a megaphone.  Please make those calls and write those letters.  Please reach out to your friends. 
Thank you,
Greg, Trish, Darwin, and gang


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