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Watchdogs Assail Revolving Door Between New Mexico Environment Department and Polluters; Gov. Martinez Fails to Protect State Budget and Environment

Santa Fe, NM

As the annual state legislative session begins, New Mexico is faced with a ~$70 million budget deficit, which must be balanced as per the state’s constitution, while revenues are projected to continue falling. To remedy this, Gov. Martinez plans to divert $120 million from public school reserves, take ~$12.5 million out of state employee retirement accounts, make teachers and state workers pay more into their retirement accounts (they are already among the lowest paid in the country), and extend 5.5% cuts for most state agencies while cutting yet more from the legislature and higher education. Instead, the state’s budget deficit could have been prevented had the New Mexico Environment Department aggressively fined polluters. But unfortunately there is a strong revolving door between NMED and the polluters it is suppose to regulate.

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NNSA Releases Los Alamos Lab Performance Evaluation Report Nuclear Criticality Safety Issues Still Not Fully Resolved

Santa Fe, NM

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has publicly released its fiscal year 2016 Performance Evaluation Report (PER) for Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), the for-profit contractor that runs the Los Alamos Lab. The Performance Evaluation Report is NNSA’s annual report card on contractor performance, and overall the agency awarded LANS $59 million in profit out of a possible $65 million. The grade was 85% for the incentive part of the award. In 2012 Nuclear Watch New Mexico successfully sued NNSA to ensure that the Performance Evaluation Reports detailing taxpayers funds paid to nuclear weapons contractors are publicly available. In 2016 the NNSA decided to put the LANL management contract out for competitive bid, but granted LANS a contract extension until the end of September 2018.

Despite the passing grade that NNSA gave LANS, there is still ample reason for public concern. First, it bears repeating that in February 2014 a radioactive waste drum improperly prepared by the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) burst underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), contaminating 21 workers and closing that multi-billion dollar facility (a limited restart of operations at WIPP may occur this month).

Less widely known is the fact that LANL’s main plutonium facility that produces WIPP wastes has only recently restarted operations after being shut down since June 2013 because of nuclear criticality safety concerns…

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LANL Estimate of $2.9 Billion for “Remaining” Cleanup Leaves Nuclear and Toxic Wastes Behind and Kills Needed Jobs

Santa Fe, NM.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that the cost of “Remaining Legacy Cleanup” of radioactive and toxic wastes from more than 70 years of nuclear weapons research and production at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) will cost $2.9 billion through fiscal year 2035, averaging $153 million per year.

“That cost estimate clearly assumes that the Lab’s major radioactive and toxic wastes dumps will not be cleaned up. Instead they will be “capped and covered,” leaving some 200,000 cubic yards of radioactive and toxic wastes at Area G, its largest waste dump. Those wastes sit in unlined pits and trenches, 800 feet above groundwater and three miles uphill from the Rio Grande (plutonium contaminants have been detected 200 feet below Area G). During this same period of time the Lab’s nuclear weapons programs that caused the mess to begin with will cost ten times as much, even before expected funding increases for expanded production of plutonium bomb core “pits” and increasingly aggressive “Life Extension Programs” that give existing nuclear weapons new military capabilities…”

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NukeWatch Files Second FOIA Request for Los Alamos and Sandia Labs Evaluations, Demand Expedited Release to E-FOIA Reading Room

Santa Fe, NM.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico has filed a second request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s FY 2015 Performance Evaluation Reports for the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories. Nuclear Watch filed its first request on December 22, 2015, which has still not been fulfilled despite the law’s statutory requirement that FOIA requests be honored within 20 working days. Because of that, Nuclear Watch is demanding expedited processing and posting of these reports to an electronic FOIA reading room, as required by the 1996 E-FOIA amendments.

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Capitol building

NukeWatch NM Heads to Washington to Press Congress, Obama Officials To Stop U.S. Nuclear Weapons “Trillion Dollar Trainwreck”

Santa Fe, NM

LANL Whistleblower Chuck Montaño to Be Honored

Three members of Nuclear Watch New Mexico will visit Washington, DC from April 17 to April 20 to oppose U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons projects, which they say will lead to a “trillion dollar train-wreck” through out-of control spending, more radioactive waste generation, and weapons proliferation. The group will meet with the New Mexican congressional delegation, committee staffers, and administration officials with responsibility for U. S. nuclear policies to press for new funding priorities.

Jay Coghlan, NukeWatch director and president of the ANA Board of Directors, said,

“Massive spending on nuclear weapons ‘modernization’ creates potential catastrophic risks for U.S. taxpayers, the environment and world peace. We will press policy-makers to cut programs that fund dangerous DOE boondoggles. The money saved should be redirected to dismantling weapons and cleaning up the legacy of nuclear weapons research, testing and production.”

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U.S. Nuclear Weapon Plans to Cost $355 Billion Over a Decade

“The Obama administration’s plans for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including modernization of bombs, delivery systems, and laboratories, will cost the country about $355 billion over the next decade, nearly $150 billion more than the administration’s $208.5 billion estimates in a report to Congress last year; since the modernization effort is just beginning, costs are expected to greatly increase after 2023.”

-From Reuters 

See also Are New Nuclear Weapons Affordable?

 

Government Accountability Office

GAO: Accounting Problems at DoD so Significant that a Federal Audit Cannot be Done.

WASHINGTON (January 17, 2013) – The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) cannot render an opinion on the 2012 consolidated financial statements of the federal government because of widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations.

As was the case in 2011, the main obstacles to a GAO opinion on the accrual-based consolidated financial statements were:

• Serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD) that made its financial statements unauditable.

• The federal government’s inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies.

• The federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.

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Cost Comparison Debunks LANL’s Outrageous Cleanup Estimate

Can it possibly cost $29 billion to clean up 51 acres? (That’s $568.6 million per acre!) The answer is yes if the estimate comes from Los Alamos National Laboratory.
NukeWatch has run cost comparisons between the estimate for Area G and two other excavation projects at the Lab. At six acres, excavation of Materials Disposal Area B is almost complete, so we have hard costs. (It is around $22.7 million per acre.) An evaluation of Materials Disposal Area Cwas released this September. The estimated costs for excavation of the 11.8-acre site came out to be $66.7 million per acre. View the cost comparison

Follow the Money

Follow the Money

A chart of Energy Department Weapons Activities Budgets compared to the average spent during the Cold War. Is this the direction we want spending to go for Nuclear Weapons?

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