The 2004 Election And The New Mexico-Texas Nuclear Corridor

by Stefan Wray
November 3, 2004

With the Bush administration still in power and Republicans gaining more U.S. Senate seats, we will see a continuation of a misguided nuclear weapons and nuclear energy policy. Plans for a New Mexico-Texas nuclear corridor will move forward with increased vigor.

The proponents of a coordinated approach to nuclear weapons and energy research, development, production and waste storage in the Southwest will be unleashed. The University of Texas and Texas A&M will be emboldened to prepare bids for the Los Alamos National Laboratory management contract.

While the administration will make some cabinet changes, it is unlikely to change the leadership of the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration. The NNSA will still have as its guiding light the Nuclear Posture Review coupled with an overarching unilateralist foreign policy.

These ideological drivers will continue to project a need for new nuclear weapons, while other forces push for a return to building new nuclear power plants. The DOE’s nuclear weapons complex will remain concentrated in 8 primary sites, three of which are in New Mexico and Texas: Los Alamos, Sandia, and Pantex. But plans will unfold for a new privately-run uranium enrichment facility near Eunice, New Mexico and a “low-level” nuclear waste dump not far away in Andrews County, Texas. A site for a new “modern” pit facility – for producing plutonium pits – has not yet been chosen; it could be in the region at Los Alamos, at Pantex, or at WIPP near Carlsbad.

Other weapons systems development, along with homeland security and border issues, will shape and complement the expansion of the New Mexico-Texas nuclear corridor. Bio-weapons “defense” work will proceed at a BSL-3 lab at Los Alamos and continue at other BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs in the two states, including at the University of Texas facilities. The regions’ DOD contractors and military bases will further refine the ongoing computer-based military transformation and what’s known as “network centric warfare.” Homeland security monies will continue to pour into the regions’ universities and the border will become a test zone for biometric technology.

Nuclear weapons (and energy) and biological weapons will require – and create a dependency on – surveillance, security and control technologies, the basis for the homeland security enterprise. This ultra-secure New Mexico-Texas nuclear corridor will be easily sold to the inhabitants of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico, an area once rich in oil and natural gas. What’s needed now, more than ever, is a regional approach to understanding and organizing strategies focused on the New Mexico-Texas nuclear corridor.

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Stefan Wray and Pam Thompson are nearly finished with post-production of a documentary about the Los Alamos National Laboratory called “The WMDs Are In New Mexico!” For more information go to http://www.iconmedia.org