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Members of the Regional Coalition of LANL (Los Alamos National Laboratory) Communities (Regional Coalition) traveled to Washington, D.C during the week of Feb. 24 to advocate for $255 million in support of environmental remediation at LANL, and to discuss the Federal Legislative Priorities of the Coalition.
The $255 million represents an increase in $30 million from the previous fiscal year, and is the minimum amount needed to meet the cleanup agreement requirements negotiated between the N.M. Environment Department and the U.S. Department of Energy.
The members of the coalition who traveled to D.C. for meetings include: former Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, Los Alamos County Commissioner Steve Girrens, Rio Arriba Deputy County Manager David Trujillo, coalition executive director Darien Cabral, and Jennifer Padilla of the coalition’s executive director team.
The coalition members met with the following:
• Senator Martin Heinrich
• Senator Tom Udall
• Representative Ben Ray Lujan
• Bruce Held, the Acting Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration
• Plus other Department of Energy and Nuclear Security Administration staff and key members of pertinent Congressional Committees
“Agency staff and Congressional people across the board emphasized the significance of the Regional Coalition board members traveling to D.C. and speaking with one voice to bring attention to issues affecting our region. The Regional Coalition has a major responsibility and a direct role to play in protecting and promoting the communities of Northern New Mexico,” said outgoing coalition chairman and outgoing Santa Fe Mayor David Coss.
Los Alamos County Commissioner Fran Berting and Santa Fe County Commissioner Danny Mayfield joined the group for the Energy Communities Alliance Peer Review and Board Meeting. The Regional Coalition is one of numerous members of the Washington, DC-based Energy Communities Alliance, which was instrumental in assisting the local governments adjacent to LANL in the 2011 formation of the Regional Coalition.
“The Energy Communities Alliance is such an important resource for the Regional Coalition,” said Danny Mayfield, the Regional Coalition’s Vice Chairman. “All the communities that are part of the Department of Energy complex are involved—the Hanford Communities, Oakridge, TN and many more—and have been working on issues of environmental management for many years, and have invaluable information to share with us,” he said.
All of the coalition’s meetings were overshadowed by the events at WIPP, the only waste site in the U.S. presently licensed for transuranic or TRU Waste. Recent issues at WIPP underscored the importance for local governments and communities to be involved in environmental remediation decision-making at our nation’s nuclear labs.
Throughout the course of the meetings in D.C., emphasis was placed on the Regional Coalition’s Federal Legislative Priorities including:
• DOE and NMED must continue to engage local and pueblo government officials on all aspects of DOE cleanup. DOE and NMED should identify their cleanup priorities for LANL to the Regional Coalition and seek its input. Transparent communication between local governments, states, tribes and DOE is essential for achieving successful cleanup.
• The Regional Coalition supports a sustained, quality cleanup that protects human health, safety, and the environment, and complies with both the Framework Agreement and binding Compliance Order on Consent between NMED and DOE (“Cleanup Agreements”).
• The Administration should request sufficient funding for LANL to maintain strong scientific capabilities and support the diversification of missions.
• The Regional Coalition supports a reverse in the downward trend in funding for LANL environmental remediation and was successful in helping to secure an additional $40 million for clean-up at LANL last year.