SANTA FE—The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (Coalition) announced successful meetings last week in Washington, D.C.
The group visited the Capitol to meet with the New Mexico Congressional Delegation members, House and Senate Armed Services, Appropriations and Department of Energy (DOE) officials regarding clean-up issues and funding for Los Alamos National Lab (LANL).
The Coalition believes that funding for FY16 environmental clean-up at LANL should be $255 million and stated that request in all meetings. The proposed budget for FY2016 is $189 million, which is a decrease from actual dollars received the past couple of years.
“Recent news has been about the fines assessed on DOE by the State of New Mexico Environment Department,” said Mayor Alice Lucero, chair of the Regional Coalition. “We of the Coalition support LANL and its clean-up commitments. We believe that payment of fines should not impact the funds for clean-up.”
The Coalition, in meeting with State Environment Department and DOE officials, understands that both value a good relationship and desire to resolve the fines issue to the benefit of the citizens of our communities, in particular clean-up funds. The Coalition also made the point to Congressional appropriators that skilled employees have been laid off because of the halt in TRU waste clean-up and shipment to WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) and that the communities will lose those qualified employees if clean-up tasks do not resume.
Finally, the Coalition also stated to DOE and other officials that the funds required to be invested in community programs by both the main contractor, Los Alamos National Security, and the major subcontractors should continue, since they are important investments in education, the needs of disadvantaged children, small businesses and other community needs. The Coalition has requested that DOE consider LANL’s funding of community programs when awarding fees or clawing back fees.
The Coalition members are encouraged by the fact that the entire New Mexico delegation is committed to working together to support the Lab and our communities. DOE Environmental Management (EM) and National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) as well stated their commitment to engage as well. The members believe all parties will help with the group’s mission to secure adequate funding to continue clean-up activities at LANL as well as to get WIPP reopened.
ABOUT THE REGIONAL COALITION: The Regional Coalition is comprised of nine cities, counties and pueblos surrounding the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Founded in 2011, the Regional Coalition works in partnership to ensure national decisions incorporate local needs and concerns. The organization’s focus is environmental remediation, regional economic development and site employment, and adequate funding for LANL. The 2015 Board of Directors includes Chair, Mayor Alice Lucero, City of Espanola; Vice Chair, Councilor Andrew Gonzales, Town of Taos; Sect./Treas. Javier Gonzales, Mayor of Santa Fe; Commissioner Henry Roybal, Santa Fe County; County Councilor Steve Girrens, Los Alamos County Council; Commissioner Barney Trujillo, Rio Arriba County; Commissioner Laurence Gallegos, Taos County; Ron Lovato, Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh; and to-be-determined representative of Pueblo of Jemez. http://regionalcoalition.org/.