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Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico’s Third District expressed his concerns with budget cuts to Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in a Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing with Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
Lujan brought up the deferment of the CMRR project and the workforce reduction at the lab along with the National Academies report warned that distrustful oversight by NNSA, in which individual transactions are reviewed at every step, is harming the vitality and long-term viability of the science and engineering capability at the labs.
“When you combine all of these — distrustful and harmful oversight with a significant loss of personnel and reduction of funding over multiple years — you get a very damaging set of events that could do permanent harm to the lab, and my district and the northern part of New Mexico,” Lujan said.
“What I’m looking for is some assurance, some long-term commitment: one to see how we can fix the arbitrary hits that were targeted to Los Alamos, as well as a commitment to Los Alamos National Laboratory.”
Chu responded: “Well certainly Los Alamos National Laboratory is an excellent laboratory, but within our budget constraints going forward we do have to make hard decisions. Certainly Los Alamos is going to be an essential part of the future of the NNSA laboratories.
“Those hard decisions are going to be made, but we feel that they have not only a very rich past, but an outstanding group of scientists and engineers in that laboratory and will be a vital part of the NNSA mission.”