The U.S. Energy Department released more details this week of how it hopes to fund nuclear weapons projects in New Mexico, outlining a combined request of $4.2 billion for nuclear security spending at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.
The request for fiscal year 2019, which relies on congressional appropriations, represents an increase of about $249 million for Los Alamos and $377 million for Sandia over the labs’ budgets for fiscal year 2017. Science funding, however, would decrease by about $20 million at Los Alamos and $6 million at Sandia.
The more detailed budget proposal for nuclear projects falls in line with the broad strokes of a budget request released in mid-February by the Trump administration. That proposal called for a nearly $800 million increase in funds for nuclear weapons programs, at the expense of other science efforts.
The Trump administration said it would seek a $2.6 billion increase for the Department of Energy, with a total request of $30.6 billion, largely to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. The more extensive budget makes clear that much of the weapons funding would go to projects at New Mexico’s labs.
Line-item funding includes warheads for navy and nuclear-capable aircraft, as well as for new infrastructure at both lab sites in the state.
The document also shows that the Department of Energy plans to request increased funding for construction projects in coming years.
A little over $235,000 million is earmarked in the budget request for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility at Los Alamos, meant to replace an aging and partially condemned building used for such research. The first phase of that project includes construction of the Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building. Construction of the facility began in 2006 but has since faced delays.
The Los Alamos Study Group sued the National Nuclear Security Administration in 2010 and 2011 over the project, saying the agency had failed to do an environmental analysis on the impact of the facility.
This week, the NNSA released an environmental assessment as part of its request to expand the radiological laboratory, increasing the amount of radiological materials handled there by more than 10 times the current allowable limits. That document is now open for public comment.
Contact Rebecca Moss at 505-986-3011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.