Reading Room

Government Shutdown Ending? What Does it Mean For Nuclear Weapons and Cleanup Funding?

Congress appears poised to end the government shutdown, although the votes have yet to be taken. Let us seize this moment to share a bit of what it all means for nuclear weapons and cleanup.

If Congress passes a new Continuing Resolution (CR), and it is based on the preceding Fiscal Year 2013 CR, it will mean that the National Nuclear Security Administration's nuclear weapons activities will get nearly $1 billion LESS than the President's Fiscal Year 2014 budget request, when calculated over the full year.

The reduced funding level will put increasing pressure on the agency's nuclear weapons programs with budget-busting price tags. Specifically, the new CR could help us prevent an overly-ambitious Life Extension Program for the B61 nuclear bomb, a massive new Uranium Processing Facility and other nefarious nuclear projects in the coming year.

To be sure, this CR still provides too much money for nuclear weapons activities. And, we will work diligently in the coming year to bring funding for nuclear weapons R&D down even further.

Should the new CR pass today or tomorrow, this will give an enormous boost to the cleanup of radioactive and toxic wastes in soil and groundwater at Livermore Lab and other nuclear weapons sites. For example, the government shutdown was forcing Livermore Lab to curtail all but a few treatment facilities this week, leaving some contaminant plumes to migrate further over time.

Reopening the government now will not only prevent nuclear wastes from oozing further into communities, it will save money because restarting treatment facilities that have been non-operational over an appreciable period of time is particularly costly.

We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation and inform you about the details of the CR and its impact on nuclear weapons and cleanup funding when there is a final bill posted. Check back regularly for updates and action alerts.