Comments on target but bit late

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By Ralph Damiani

We have to agree with Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., when he said that Los Alamos National Laboratory has a bright future.

However, it will not be due to any effort on his part. The congressman has been an opponent of the lab for some time, voting time and again to gut the facility and its budget. It is a bit disingenuous to come forward at the 11th hour with ideas and suggestions.To be fair, he does dispute this, saying he has been a big supporter. We just have not seen it.What is worse is his insulting comment that we should use Sandia as a model. The two facilities are totally different – something one would think our congressman would know.But it makes a good sound bite and that is what it is all about today – especially when one wants to step up in the world and go over to the senate.It is all well and good for the congressman to urge the laboratory to seek funding to expand non-weapon areas such as nonproliferation, energy security and energy renewables.But where has he been the past few years? Did he just wake up to this revelation?New Mexico faces a real crisis here. As do we in Los Alamos.With the retirement of Sen. Pete Domenici our entire congressional delegation is facing a total overhaul and we will be left with no one with any kind of seniority or sway save for Sen. Jeff Bingaman.Heather Wilson is seeking the seat, leaving open her House job. Steve Pearce is running for the Senate now as well, leaving open his House seat.And with Udall running for the Senate, his House seat will have a new person sitting in it.So we will have freshman in four of our five congressional positions. And the way Washington works on seniority, we here will be in real trouble.Even with our seniority, we are struggling. When Domenici leaves, it will get a lot, lot worse.And it will spell real trouble for the lab. And it is a shame.As Udall said this week, there is a real top-notch scientific staff here. Somehow we have to find a way to protect and develop the tremendous resource we have.