NM labs fare well in Obama budget

April 10, 2013 • State News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Los Alamos N[auth] ational Laboratory would see a 7 percent budget increase, while spending for Sandia National Laboratories would remain basically flat under the Obama Administration budget plan unveiled on Wednesday.

The Department of Energy spending proposal requests $1.96 billion for Los Alamos and $1.8 billion for Sandia in fiscal 2014.

Total spending for cleanup of radioactive waste at Los Alamos would rise 16 percent, to $215 million.

Officials with the National Nuclear Security Administration say that given the tight budget times, they are also going back to reevaluate what might be done to more affordably upgrade the plutonium research facilities at Los Alamos.

The administration last year proposed putting on hold any further work on a controversial $6 billion project known as the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility.

On Wednesday, the acting administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration, Neile Miller, said the lab is “clearly not affordable” and alternatives are being studied.

The proposed budget also calls for a 5 percent cut for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, to $203 million.

U.S. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said he was “encouraged that Los Alamos and Sandia labs are well-supported in the President’s budget proposal.”

“Securing funding for the labs and our military installations ensures that New Mexico can fulfill its key national security missions, and strengthens our economy by providing quality jobs in our state,” he said in a statement.

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