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INDICATORS

Hawk Squawk

Indicators: Oct. 13

October 13, 2010, 1:00 am

$80 million is the amount by which Congress’ continuing resolution (CR) for FY 2011 increased the budget for regulation and oversight of all offshore drilling.

$337.7 million is the amount by which the CR increased Los Alamos National Laboratory’s budget for nuclear weapons, alone.

" So, today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons"—President Barack Obama, in his now-famous Prague speech of April 5, 2009


In addition to war, the 1940s brought us many things: Velcro, Tupperware, microwaves, the Frisbee—and the atomic bomb.


Nuclear weapons spending has since declined—or was declining, until Oct. 1, when the Obama administration approved the largest increase in nuclear weapons funding since the ber-secret, ber-costly ($22 billion in today’s dollars) Manhattan Project.


Los Alamos National Laboratory fared particularly well, landing the largest “weapons activities” increase ($337 million, which represents a 26 percent increase over its FY 2010 weapons budget) of any lab, plant or test site receiving weapons activities funding from the US Department of Energy. 


Unsurprisingly, this irks Greg Mello, the executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, a pro-disarmament group currently suing the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration to stop the construction of a huge, ever-more-costly facility for manufacturing plutonium pits—basically, the guts of new atomic bombs.


Mello’s group contends that the construction is based on insufficient environmental review, and that its mushrooming costs—especially this latest increase, most of which goes to the new facility—are therefore unjustified. 


But all is not lost.


In a Sept. 14 letter, all 23 Republicans on the US House Appropriations Committee wrote a letter to committee Chairman David Obey, D-Wis., decrying the spending increases—and calling out nuclear weapons spending as one of a handful of examples.


“There was some irony in it, that they specifically named the nuclear weapons program,” Mello says. “They could have not named it, but they did.”


Ah, for the hawks of yore.


 

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