Udall Secures Critical Funding for Labs, WIPP

Sen. Tom Udall

U.S. SENATE News:      

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tuesday, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., joined the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee in approving a bill that provides critical Fiscal Year 2015 funding for New Mexico’s national labs, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), and other Department of Energy (DOE) and water-related programs important to the state.

The full committee will vote on the bill as early as this week.

As a member of the subcommittee, Udall was instrumental in securing full funding for key DOE programs at Los Alamos and Sandia national labs and WIPP worth more than $4 billion. 

Highlights of the bill include:

B61 Life Extension Project (LEP) – Both Los Alamos and Sandia national labs are instrumental in carrying out this program, which maintains our nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile while allowing for the eventual elimination of the nation’s largest warhead, the B83. The bill fully funds the B61 LEP for FY15 and supports recent job increases at Sandia. The funding is a direct result of Udall’s successful fight against an attempt in FY14 to cut the program.

WIPP – The Senate bill provides $323 million for WIPP, including the administration’s original funding request of $220.5 million. The additional $102 million is designated for cleanup from the radiological accident and equals the estimate DOE has provided for FY15 recovery activities at WIPP.

Technology Transfer – Udall inserted a provision in the bill directing DOE to take important steps to improve its tech transfer office. The provision echoes Udall’s ATTAIN Act, which he introduced earlier this year to boost DOE’s efforts to create marketable products – and jobs – based on research at Los Alamos and Sandia and other national labs. 

Los Alamos CMRR – The bill provides $3.8 million in design funding for a new modular approach for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) facility and $35.7 million for LANL’s new radiological lab (RLOUB). These facilities are needed to replace the aging CMR facility, which no longer meets modern building and scientific standards, and is slated for closure in 2019.

Navajo-Gallup Project – The bill provides $81 million for the construction of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project and the historic 2010 Navajo Nation Water Rights Settlement Agreement. The project will supply water to the eastern portion of the Navajo Nation, the southwestern portion of the Jicarilla Apache Nation and the city of Gallup, serving the future water needs of approximately 250,000 people.

“My role on the Appropriations Committee gives me the best possible position to fight for resources for New Mexico’s communities, for our labs and military bases, and for the important work we do for our nation’s security and energy future. I’m proud this bill is good news for New Mexico,” Udall said. “The national labs and WIPP are not only major employers with thousands of workers, their missions are critical to our national security and to our energy security.” 

“I’ve been a strong defender of the B61 Life Extension Project, and this bill keeps the B61 LEP on track,” Udall said. “This continued increase in B61 funding will support the recent hiring at Sandia, and there could be more in the coming year.

“I’m very pleased that the Senate has heard our call to include a line item for WIPP cleanup. I’m committed to moving toward a safe reopening of WIPP, which is our only permanent repository for TRU waste. It’s critical to our state and nation and to the community of Carlsbad. I still want a full and detailed report from the president, explaining what additional money is needed so I can best make my case to the Appropriations Committee. But a dedicated line item in the FY15 funding bill will ensure WIPP can move closer to reopening.” 

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., added his comments. “Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories employ some of the best and brightest minds in the country. By securing this critical funding we ensure that our labs’ missions are protected and that they continue to play a vital role in addressing the nation’s most pressing challenges, including national security and energy independence. I’m also pleased that LANL will receive sufficient funding for ongoing defense legacy waste cleanup efforts—an important commitment the Department of Energy has made to the people of New Mexico.

“I’m pleased the bill provides the full amount of extra funding DOE requested for WIPP to support ongoing efforts to restore full operations at the facility. With the investigations coming to a conclusion, I will continue to work toward a safe reopening of WIPP, which as our only permanent repository for TRU waste is critical to our state and the nation.”  

A detailed breakdown of the Energy and Water funding for New Mexico follows:

National Nuclear Security Administration: (Lab totals are not broken out in the appropriations bill)

NNSA Weapons Activities

  • FY14 Enacted: $7.8 billion
  • FY15 Administration request: $8.3 billion. A 6.9% increase over FY14
  • FY15 Senate funding level: $8.3 billion

Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation

  • FY14 Enacted: $1.95 billion
  • FY15 Administration request: $1.56 billion
  • FY15 Senate funding level: $1.98 billion

NNSA Environmental Cleanup:

Los Alamos National Laboratory Cleanup

  • FY14 Enacted: $224.8 million
  • FY15 Administration request: $224.6 million
  • FY15 Senate funding level: $224.6 million

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

  • FY14: $221.2 million 
  • FY15 Administration request: $220.5 million
  • FY15 Senate funding level: $323 million. Includes $102 million for FY15 WIPP recovery

NNSA Life Extension Projects:

  • B61 LEP:$643 million 
  • W76 LEP:$259 million 
  • W88 Alt 370 LEP Study: $165 million 

Full funding for the B61 and other LEPs will allow Sandia and Los Alamos to continue their important national security work and to hire additional scientists and engineers as needed to extend the life of existing warheads.

Stockpile services: $1.035 billion, which includes $145 million for plutonium pit sustainment.

Inertial Confinement Fusion Ignition High Yield Campaign: $517 million, which includes at least $44.5 million to be used at Sandia’s Z machine.

The Z machine supports the stockpile stewardship program by allowing scientists to simulate how materials react in conditions similar to a nuclear explosion. It can also be used for advancing basic physics and materials science such as energy and fusion research.

Los Alamos CMRR: $3.8 million to continue design for modules, which will provide materials characterization and analytical chemistry capabilities for plutonium surveillance when CMR closes in 2019.

CMRR-RLUOB: $35.7 million to increase plutonium surveillance capabilities. 

Advanced Simulation and Computing: $620 million, which is $10 million above the administration request, including $60 million for exascale computing. Los Alamos is working towards developing the next generation of advanced supercomputers, which includes exascale computing. 

DOE Bioenergy:

Bioenergy Technologies: Algae & Advanced Feedstocks

  • FY14 Enacted: $30 million
  • FY15 Administration request: $14 million
  • FY 15 Senate funding level: $30 million ($16 million above administration request for FY15).

DOE Technology Transfer:

At Udall’s request, the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill includes this provision directing DOE to improve its tech transfer activities: 

“The Committee recognizes that innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation are critical to the United States’ economic competitiveness. To that end, the Committee is supportive of programs that help transfer taxpayer funded technology and research from our national laboratories to commercial markets. The Committee encourages the Department of Energy to fill the position of Technology Transfer Coordinator immediately and implement the recommendations of the Department’s Office of the Inspector General as stated in the February 2014 Audit Report: Technology Transfer and Commercialization Efforts at the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories, OAS-M-14-02. As detailed in the Audit Report, the Committee supports the finalization of performance metrics and recommends that special emphasis be placed on establishing targets and quantitative metrics that support the growth of U.S. entrepreneurial companies. Additionally, the Committee recommends that the Department of Energy take a more forward-looking approach to implementing the Technology Commercialization Fund to enhance the effectiveness of the Department’s expenditures.”

Army Corps of Engineers:

The Senate bill includes all of Udall’s requests for Army Corps of Engineers funding, including:

Tribal Partnership Program 

  • FY14 Enacted: $1 million
  • FY15 Udall request: $2.5 million
  • FY15 Administration request: $1.5 million
  • FY15 Senate funding level: $2.5 million

Additionally, the bill provides funding for:

  • Espanola Valley, Rio Grande & Tributaries: $300,000-Rio Grande Basin, NM, CO, and TX (Sec. 729): $300,000
  • Middle Rio Grande Flood Protection, Bernalillo to Belen: $276,000
  • Abiquiu Dam: $2,794,000
  • Cochiti Lake: $3,587,000
  • Conchas Lake: $2,794,000
  • Galisteo Dam: $1,150,000
  • Inspection of Completed Environmental Projects: $30,000
  • Inspection of Completed Works: $654,000
  • Jemez Canyon Dam: $1,392,000
  • Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program: $2,492,000
  • Santa Rosa Dam and Lake: $1,594,000
  • Scheduling Reservoir Operations: $330,000
  • Two Rivers Dam: $797,000
  • Upper Rio Grande Water Operations Model Study: $1,289,000

Bureau of Reclamation:

The Senate bill includes all of Udall’s Bureau of Reclamation requests, including:

WaterSMART grants: $65 million, which is $46 million above the administration request for FY15.

Additionally, the bill provides funding for:

  • Navajo-Gallup: $81,000,000
  • Taos Settlement: $4,000,000
  • Aamodt Settlement: $3,000,000
  • Rio Grande Pueblos: $650,000
  • Eastern New Mexico Water Supply – Ute Reservoir: $50,000
  • Middle Rio Grande Project: $22,740,000
  • Carlsbad Project: $4,140,000
  • Upper Colorado River Basin Fund: $18,300,000



ladailypost.com website support locally by OviNuppi Systems