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December 23, 2011

Bulletin #138: Study Group named one of top ten small green groups in U.S.

Dear friends --

What a nice Christmas present for the Los Alamos Study Group community!  We were just named one of Ten Small Green Groups That Make a Big Difference by Counterpunch.  We are very happy about this! 

Counterpunch editors Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn are certainly familiar with us from the many articles Study Group director Dr. Darwin BondGraham has written for them.  Check these out:

We are grateful to be able to work with all of you in our community -- directors, attorneys, volunteers when we have them, and donors.  It is you who are being praised here!  The whole is greater than the sum of our individual parts. 

Speaking of donors, Trish tells me that the Study Group was supported in 2011 (so far) by 522 individual contributions from 247 separate contributors.  More than three-fourths of these contributions were for $100 or less.  All of you are very important to us. 

The ten organizations chosen by Counterpunch were: 

This is good company.  In his endorsement of these groups Jeffrey St. Clair pretty much hits the nail on the sometimes-difficult head:

It takes guts for an environmental group to stand up to a Democratic president in an election year and call him on his betrayals. You risk being marginalized and stripped of your funding by the Democratic-aligned foundations that underwrite most of the mainstream groups. Here are ten groups who stand up for what they stand on, who put protection of the environment before politics. They all operate close to the bone, their meager budgets are spent on activism and litigation, not on self-promoting direct mail operations, glitzy offices or bloated administrative expenses. These groups will put your money to work defending the planet. Now pony up!

In solidarity,

Greg, Trish, and the Los Alamos Study Group

P.S. Below the line, see today's update on the status of CMRR-NF from the leading trade publication.

From Nuclear Weapons and Materials Monitor, December 23, 2011 (emphasis added)


Congressional action to cut the budget request and place restrictions on funding for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory will delay the project’s Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF), but will allow work to be completed on the adjacent light lab and office building that is part of the
project, according to a National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman. “In the FY12 budget constrained environment, we are pleased the CMRR project will be able to remain on plan to finish equipping the Radiological Laboratory and Utility Office Building ahead of schedule, and substantially complete CMRR-NF design later this year. The conference agreement did delay the FY12 construction activities for the CMRR-NF which will defer the first phases of construction for CMRR-NF,” said NNSA spokesman Josh McConaha.

The Radiological Laboratory and Utility Office Building (RLUOB) is already built and office space is currently occupied, with lab equipment installation to be done this year. In the face of sharp criticism over delays and growing costs associated with the overall CMRR project, the ontime, on-budget completion [sic -- it's the "rubber baseline" problem again] of the smaller RLUOB has been a point of pride for the lab and its federal managers. But the Congressional action suggests problems for CMRR-NF, which is by far the larger part of the project.

Approps Bill Restricts FY12 Construction Work

The administration’s budget request to Congress identified some $30 million in additional costs for equipping RLUOB, which will be funded in the $200 million Congress appropriated for the work this year. The funding is $100 million short of the Obama Administration’s $300 million request for the project, and there is widespread speculation that the project could face even steeper cuts in FY2013. The final bill explicitly states that “no construction activities are funded for CMRR-NF” with the money allocated. An ongoing review of lab procurement actions, done by Trish Williams-Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group, has identified 45 different formal procurement notices related to the project, including a number that appear to be affected by the Congressional restriction. Most notable are a Nov. 21 Request for Expressions of Interest (REI) and Prequalification Data for site utilities, site preparation and excavation work and a September REI for firms interested in constructing the project’s concrete batch plant. The lab also had already issued an REI looking for firms interested in working on the construction support area for the project. All that work would appear to be prohibited in Fiscal Year 2012 by the Congressional restriction. The lab also has already taken preliminary steps through REI notices for procurement of a wide range of equipment to be used in the building, including fire water pumps, safety-class HVAC systems, security doors, cranes and soil and concrete testing. The effect of the budget cuts on those procurements was unclear.

Funding Cuts Suggest Broader Problems for Project

Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group, which is in court trying to block CMRR-NF, said the Congressional decision to restrict funding on the project while giving full funding to the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) in Oak Ridge suggests difficulties for the Los Alamos project as the NNSA heads into an increasingly fiscally constrained environment. “Up to now at least, CMRR-NF has been the NNSA’s highest priority infrastructure project. Congress, authorizers and appropriators alike, and in both the House and Senate, evidently think differently, at least for the time being,” Mello said in an email to supporters.
—From staff reports

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