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July 10, 2013

Bulletin #175:  Congressman Lujan: 6 votes against renewable energy yesterday

Dear friends –

Yesterday, during consideration of H.R. 2609 – the Energy and Water appropriations bill for fiscal year (FY) 2014 which funds the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and all other Department of Energy (DOE) accounts as well as water and flood control projects and the civilian work of the Army Corps of Engineers – Congressman Ben Ray Lujan voted against six amendments offered by various congresspersons that would have moved funds from the NNSA nuclear “Weapons Activities” account to renewable energy, energy reliability, and energy efficiency accounts. 

He may vote, or have voted, against other such amendments today.  We will find out tomorrow. 

The Energy and Water spending bill being considered in the House would add $118 M to this year’s $$7,557 M in warhead spending.  The Obama Administration requested a $311 M increase, which Senate appropriators are prepared to grant in full. 

So the Republican-led House is proposing a lower warhead budget than is the Democrat-led Senate, by $193 M. 

The House bill slashes funding for DOE programs in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy reliability in half, from $1,954 M to $983 M.  The Administration had hoped to grow these programs by 51%, to $2,945 M.  It is this anti-renewable energy research, anti-energy-efficiency direction in the House bill that these six amendments would partially correct. 

Yesterday’s proposed amendments differed in the sums they would shift from nuclear weapons to renewable energy and energy efficiency and reliability: $245 million (M) (Tanako); $50 M (Cohen); $15 M (Perlmutter); $15.5 M (Connolly); $20 M (Takano again); $40 M (Takano yet again). 

None of these amendments were acceptable to Congressman Lujan, who voted with the majority to defeat them all. 

The House bill cuts DOE science programs – by $223 M from the current level ($4.9 billion) and by $500 M from the administration’s request ($5.2 billion).   Two amendments offered yesterday sought to shift money to DOE science programs from NNSA warhead funds in the bill, one by Mr. Hastings, which would have shifted $223 M, and one by Mr. Foster, which would shift $500 M. 

Congressman Lujan voted against the increased science funding in the Hastings amendment.  (The vote on the Foster amendment was postponed until today and it has not been posted on-line as of this writing.) 

The House bill also savages one of the administration’s prized energy research programs, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E).  The current spending level is $265 M; the administration had hoped to increase those research funds to $379 M.  The House proposes to spend just $50 M, $329 M less than the request – a crippling change.  Mr. Garamendi, who until a recent redistricting represented the town of Livermore, California (home to one of NNSA’s three nuclear warhead labs), offered an amendment to restore that $329 M, the source being NNSA warhead funds.  The roll call vote on Garamendi’s amendment has not yet been published.

When the votes are published, I am pretty sure we will discover that Rep. Lujan has voted to protect NNSA nuclear warhead spending whenever possible, at the expense of the green jobs our state needs, just as he has done in the past. 

Be very clear: Rep. Lujan has just voted with House Republicans to cut heavily DOE spending in New Mexico (NM) for these programs:

DOE Program[1]

Current NM spending ($M)

Administration proposal for FY2014 spending in NM ($M)

Energy Reliability

2.545

1.450

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy*

63.321

69.664

Science

152.069

128.268**

*Includes programs in wind energy, geothermal, hydrogen, water power, solar energy, vehicle technologies, building technologies, federal energy management, weatherization assistance, state energy grants, tribal energy activities, advanced manufacturing, and bioenergy technologies.

**NM spending was to include $37 M in biological and environmental research and $55 M in basic energy sciences.

NNSA Weapons Activities would spend, in the Administration’s plan (which the House would cut slightly, about 2.5%), $3.311 billion in New Mexico next year.  It is this geographically-concentrated nuclear warhead spending which Mr. Lujan’s votes helped preserve. 

(All these figures are prior to any Budget Control Act sequestration – which will, in the absence of a grand budget “deal,” impose further spending cuts, in the general vicinity of 10%.)  

In short, Rep. Lujan is a 100% status-quo nuclear man.  The claims on his web site to be working for a “clean energy economy” are not accurate and need to be very carefully parsed.  Mr. Lujan claims to want research into clean energy, but yesterday he voted six times against actually funding it. 

By coincidence, Lujan’s office released today these comments (and this picture of the congressman with Secretary of Energy Moniz) to the press:

“Today I had an opportunity to discuss with Secretary Moniz the important role that Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories play in New Mexico.  As Co-Chair of the Technology Transfer Caucus, I was encouraged that Secretary Moniz shares my goal of improving technology transfer and taking steps that will enable the labs to focus more on moving innovative technologies to the marketplace.  I look forward to working with Secretary Moniz on these critical efforts that can spur economic growth in New Mexico and lead to job creation in our communities.

"Secretary Moniz and I also discussed the management of the National Nuclear Security Administration and the need to improve and reform the agency in order to maintain the vitality of the science and engineering capabilities at the labs.  We need to take an honest look at the NNSA and how it works with our labs so that we can move forward with a plan that strengthens Los Alamos and Sandia and their ability to contribute to our economic competitiveness, national security, and scientific advancement."

Especially in the context of these votes, what does this mean?  Who writes this stuff?  It is all horse pucky. 

No doubt Rep. Lujan means well, and we don’t mean to single him out for special censure.  Our two senators would come down on Ben Ray like a ton of bricks if he strayed from the path of funding nuclear warheads to the maximum extent possible. 

And, to round out the picture somewhat, neither of our Democratic senators has offered any initiative that would significantly change DOE’s priorities, or create any significant number of renewable energy or energy efficiency jobs. 

Neither Senator has unveiled any vision or plan or values that would lead toward either true environmental protection or actual economic development in this state.  Establishing a national monument is good and well, but environmental protection requires much more than that. 

Senator Udall’s primary concern in his important role on the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee seems to be one of protecting nuclear weapons spending.  

The [Senate Energy and Water] subcommittee’s decision on the B61 was hotly debated behind closed doors in recent weeks, with Udall fighting to preserve funding for the refurbishment. He praised the amendment that would allow the NNSA to reprogram money to make up the funding shortfall with certification from the Energy and Defense Secretary that the LEP would stay within its $8.2 billion cost estimate, though it’s unclear when—or if—the certification could be achieved, or where additional money would come from for such a reprogramming. Udall called the amendment a “step in the right direction” and said he would still fight to fully restore the funding in the bill. “The B61 Life Extension Program is important for national security and to keep our nuclear weapons stockpile safe and secure. The  amendment I offered will help the experts at the labs continue their work, and I will continue to fight for  funds to support them. I was prepared to vote no on the overall bill if we couldn’t find a solution,” Udall said in a statement.[2] 

I will take up some of the practical political implications of these facts, which augur increasing economic and social decline for New Mexico, in the next Bulletin. 

Meanwhile Carol Miller has recently published a short essay calling for quite different values and policies than our current delegation, which deserves broad circulation: “Our communities need more than crumbs” (Albuquerque Journal, July 7, 2013).

Finally, we look forward to seeing some of you this week in Santa Fe and Albuquerque at this week’s strategic discussion and film screenings.   

Greg Mello, for the Study Group

[1] From the DOE FY2014 Congressional Budget Request, State Tables (Preliminary)(pdf).  This is obviously not an inclusive list of DOE programs in New Mexico, and appropriations bills do not commit DOE to specific spending by state.

[2] “As Appropriators Unveil Bills, B61 Becomes Source Of Debate,” Todd Jacobson, Nuclear Weapons and Materials Monitor, June 28, 2013.


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