By DANA LIEBELSON
The proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF)--which POGO has called a titanic waste of taxpayer dollars--received no funding in an appropriations bill marked up today in subcommittee. This is great news, and it is in line with President Obama's budget proposal, which asked that the proposed Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) facility be put on hold for the next five years.
The FY 2013 Energy and Water and Related Agencies Appropriations bill was released by the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee on April 17. The bill provides annual funding for various programs within the Department of Energy (DOE) and other related agencies—including nuclear weapons programs. Although this is only one subcommittee appropriations bill markup, it is significant that both the Subcommittee and President Obama have concluded that CMRR-NF doesn’t deserve any more money from taxpayers.
We are happy to see that CMRR-NF has been left out of the bill. In the past, we’ve asked for the project to be scrapped in its entirety, as it’s a money-suck whose estimated cost has climbed from $375 million to between $3.7 and $5.9 billion. Additionally, many of the planned functions for CMRR-NF, which include increasing the production of plutonium pits (a key component of nuclear weapons), can be carried out by existing facilities at a fraction of the cost of building a brand new facility. Let’s not even start on the project’s other problems, like earthquake vulnerability, potential treaty violations.
It’s great that the Subcommittee has recognized the wastefulness of CMRR-NF, but we hope the full committee will also not include funding for the project in its markup.
Additionally, because the draft isn’t very specific, we are concerned that we’ll ultimately see an increase in funding for other wasteful projects we’d like to see cut—like the MOX plant at the Savannah River Site, the $6.5 - $7.5 billion Uranium Processing Facility (UPF), and the B61 nuclear bombs in Europe.
If the House Appropriations Committee really wants to demonstrate, in the words of Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), its “continued commitment to responsible and responsive federal budgets” and “[focus] taxpayer dollars where they are most needed and best used,” it needs to consider scrapping these other wasteful projects.
Dana Liebelson is POGO's Beth Daley Impact Fellow.
Photo via elPadawan.