Santa Fe Mayor Leads Coalition to Ensure Funding of Los Alamos

Nov 21, 2012

Los Alamos National Laboratory

A group of elected northern New Mexico officials is lobbying the region's Congressional delegation for funding for Los Alamos National Laboratory.  But some longstanding environmental groups are wary of their purpose.

The group calls themselves the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, representing seven cities and counties from Santa Fe north to Taos, and the pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh.    

The organization’s focus is environmental remediation at the lab, regional economic development, jobs at the site  and adequate funding for LANL.

Santa Fe mayor David Coss is the chair of the coalition,  and he says its focus is to restore some of the millions of dollars in Lab legacy waste cleanup funding lost after the federal Recovery Act money ran out last year.  The group hopes $150-million in cleanup funds will make it into a final federal budget to restore some of the 500 jobs lost last year in northern New Mexico.  And, he says, while environmental cleanup is a goal, his coalition has a broader purpose. "We're not anti-LANL, and we're not a non-governmental organization, we really are a governmental organization, but we're elected and so we represent constituencies that are much more diverse than environmental groups may represent."

Joni Arends, executive director of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, says environmental advocates should have a seat at the table, not only elected officials, and she fears the public will be shut out of decisions the coalition makes.