Anti-Nuclear Activists Cheer Cuts to Nuclear Weapons Programs

Contact:

Susan R. Gordon, ANA, Seattle, WA office, 206-853-6399

Jim Bridgman, ANA, Washington, DC office,202-544-0217 ext.3

Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore, CA, 925-443-7148

November 23, 2004, Tuesday

For Immediate Release

NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR NUCLEAR ACCOUNTABILITY CHEERS CONGRESSIONAL CUTS TO NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAMS

LIVERMORE LAB BUDGET AXED FOR ROBUST NUCLEAR EARTH PENETRATOR AND MINI-NUKE DESIGNS

Washington, DC: In a stunning move, conferees to the Fiscal Year 2005 Omnibus appropriations cut or eliminated funding for a number of key nuclear weapons programs. "Thanks to the leadership of Chairman Hobson and the hard work of his like-minded colleagues, and a strong push this year from thousands of concerned citizens across the country, we have won a major victory against new nuclear weapons," said Susan Gordon, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) Director.

"These budget cuts represent an important shift in the debate on U.S. nuclear weapons policy," noted Jim Bridgman, ANA's Program Director. "Chairman Hobson recognizes the provocative nature of new U.S. nuclear weapons programs at a time when we are trying to emphasize the importance of nonproliferation, and has wisely, and rather courageously, fought to curb the administration's nuclear appetite."

The final Energy & Water Development Appropriations, part of the FY2005 omnibus bill, zeroes out funding for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, a program to modify existing nuclear weapons for new bunker-busting missions, and the Advanced Concepts Initiative, an open-ended program that involved research into low-yield nuclear weapons, including so-called "mini-nukes." These programs are carried out at the Department of Energy's nuclear weapon design labs, Lawrence Livermore in CA and Los Alamos in NM.

"Special kudos also go to California Senator Dianne Feinstein," noted Tri-Valley CAREs' executive director, Marylia Kelley. "She promised us she would lead the fight to cut new nuclear weapons funding in the Senate, and she has succeeded."

Senator Feinstein called the cuts "consequential," and said they "should send a very loud message to the Administration."

According to Committee Staff, the conferees split the difference on enhancing the readiness for conducting underground tests at the Nevada Test Site between the Administration's request of $30 million and the House-passed total of $15 million, for a final figure of $22.5 million. The conferees also restricted the test readiness level to 24 months, rather than 18 months as the administration has planned.

Funding for a new nuclear bomb plant, the Modern Pit Facility, was cut from a request of $29.8 million, to a final level of $7 million. However, work on the final Environmental Impact Statement will be allowed to continue without choosing a site.

Funding for the Life Extension and Stockpile System Programs, meant to upgrade aging nuclear weapons, was cut by $41 million. Tri-Valley CAREs and ANA have been critical of these programs as unnecessary in lieu of anticipated reductions under the Moscow Treaty and for crowding out needed warhead dismantlement, which are performed at the same facilities. The conferees effectively doubled funding for dismantlement, from the prior year's level of approximately $38 million to $75 million.

In environmental cleanup, the conferees provided $7.034 billion for Defense Environmental Management, including $6.096 billion for Defense Site Acceleration Completion and $937 million for Defense Environmental Services. This represents an increase above the administration's request, with almost all of the increase going to the 2006 closure sites, particularly in moving materials off of the Mound site in Ohio.

Cleanup funding for high level waste, $350 million in the request, was funded at $291.9 million by the conferees. ANA opposed the unofficial high level waste sub-account from the beginning as it was designed to blackmail states into agreeing to accept the Energy Department's plans for Waste Incidental to Reprocessing. This prediction appears to have become true as Washington opted out of the language providing DOE with an authority to reclassify high level waste in the Defense Authorization bill, and funding for cleaning up Hanford's high level waste tanks was cut in half in the conference bill.

In nuclear waste disposal, the conferees provided $577 million for Yucca Mountain, the same funding that was provided in Fiscal Year 2004. This still represents a reduction of over $300 million from the administration's request, due to the administration's gambling on Congress approving the use of the Nuclear Waste Fund for ongoing Yucca expenditures.

In fissile materials disposition, the conferees note the ongoing delays in the plutonium disposition program and adopt the cut of $25 million approved in the defense authorization. However, the Mixed Oxide fuel fabrication facility, cut significantly by the House earlier in the year, received full funding of $368 million, as did the Pit disassembly and conversion facility, at $32.3 million. Construction of facilities in either Russia or the United States has not started, leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in unused balances from prior years.

Conferees met new spending limits by enforcing an across-the-board cut of 0.8% to all non-defense and non-homeland security appropriations. All Energy & Water appropriations, including both Environmental Management and the National Nuclear Security Administration will share in this budget cut.

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability is a national network of approximately three dozen organizations whose members live downwind and downstream of the Department of Energy's major nuclear weapons sites. Tri-Valley CAREs is based in Livermore, California and monitors activities at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Tri-Valley CAREs has been an ANA member group since 1989.

--30--

Marylia Kelley
Executive Director
Tri-Valley CAREs
(Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)
2582 Old First Street
Livermore, CA USA 94551

<http://www.trivalleycares.org> - is our web site address. Please visit us there!
(925) 443-7148 - is our phone
(925) 443-0177 - is our fax