Obama Dropped Proposal for Pentagon Control of Nuclear Labs, Mayor Says

The Obama administration has scrapped a plan to study placing U.S. nuclear-weapon research under the control of the Defense Department, Albuquerque, N.M., Mayor Martin Chavez said following a Friday meeting of U.S. mayors and top administration officials (see GSN, Feb. 6).

"I think that one is nipped in the bud," Chavez said after discussing the proposal with Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

New Mexico is home to two of the sites that could have been affected by the plan, the Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories.

A Management and Budget Office memo disclosed this month asks the Energy Department and its National Nuclear Security Administration to report by Sept. 30 on the proposal's costs and benefits, the Associated Press reported. New Mexico lawmakers expressed strong opposition to the plan, contending that transferring oversight of the laboratories would hinder studies related to matters such as nuclear nonproliferation, homeland security and renewable energy.

Chu "was very sensitive to those concerns," Chavez said.

Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) noted his own concerns about the plan in discussions with Management and Budget Office head Peter Orszag. The senator expects OMB officials to tell him "very soon" whether the planned study would instead address the effectiveness of NNSA oversight of the laboratories and the agency's coordination with the Energy Department, Bingaman spokeswoman Jude McCartin said (Heather Clark, Associated Press, Feb. 21).

February 23, 2009
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The Obama administration has scrapped a plan to study placing U.S. nuclear-weapon research under the control of the Defense Department, Albuquerque, N.M., Mayor Martin Chavez said following a Friday meeting of U.S. mayors and top administration officials (see GSN, Feb. 6).