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Friday, March 15, 2019

Posted by Eric Luna

“Skinny Budget” Presages Increased Nuclear Spending; Cuts Elsewhere

Monday, March 11, 2019

Posted by Marylia Kelley

On Monday, March 11, 2019, President Donald Trump released the summary outline for his administration’s Fiscal Year 2020 request.

The document is titled, “A Budget for a Better America,” which may be true if you are a major defense contractor or nuclear weapons lab. For the rest of us, however, the title is misleading at best.

In the vernacular, this document is called a “skinny budget” because it contains agency “top line” numbers only and is bereft of detail.

The President’s full FY2020 budget request is scheduled “soon,” according to government pronouncements. Various sources, however, have said to expect its release on Monday, March 18 or perhaps later that week.

Tri-Valley CAREs will prepare a full analysis of key programs within the Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) as soon documents become available. Further, we will produce a graph detailing the request for Livermore Lab.


In the mean time, here are the top line numbers from Trump’s skinny budget. From them, you can already see the outline of what will be in the full request – and the numbers increase the nuclear danger.

For example:

The FY2020 budget request for NNSA is $16.5 billion, up from $15.2 billion this fiscal year.  The NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the DOE that principally develops new and modified nuclear bombs and the bomb plants to build them.

The FY2020 budget request for all the other parts of DOE combined is $15.2 billion, down from $20.4 billion last year. This includes the DOE Office of Environmental Management (cleanup), the Office of Science, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewables, and others. Even without the details, can you visualize what’s being gutted?

The skinny budget includes a bit of overview text, which is also revealing of its priorities. It says the President’s FY2020 budget…

Modernizes the Nuclear Deterrent. The Budget supports the Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review by maintaining a tailored and flexible nuclear deterrent that protects the homeland, assures allies, and, above all, deters adversaries. While the investments in America’s nuclear weapons are large, given their importance in keeping America safe, the investments should be regarded as both necessary and affordable. The Budget increases investments in the nuclear stockpile to guarantee it is modern, robust, safe, and effective. Specifically, the Budget completes development and production of the W76-2 warhead, begins production of the B61-12 and the W88 Alteration 370, and continues development of the W80-4 and the W87-1. The Budget also continues support of the underlying Stockpile Stewardship Program, which facilitates stockpile modernization while advancing scientific understanding that can be applied to other national security missions.

Rebuilds Nuclear Weapons Infrastructure. The National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) nuclear security enterprise of national laboratories, production plants, and the Nevada National Security Site is a critical component of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. However, the physical infrastructure is in acute need of updating to better support the stockpile, as more than half the facilities are over 40 years old. To maintain a modern, resilient infrastructure, the Nation must invest in facilities needed to produce strategic materials and components for U.S. nuclear weapons. The Budget makes these significant investments, such as construction of the Uranium Processing Facility in Tennessee. The Budget also increases funding to repurpose the Mixed-Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina for production of nuclear weapons plutonium pits [bomb cores] to meet Department of Defense requirements. NNSA must have a modern enterprise with the capacity to respond to unforeseen developments…”

Here is a link to the skinny budget: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/budget-fy2020.pdf

Check Tri-Valley CAREs’ website at www.trivalleycares.org for more information as soon as the full request is released.

We will also be sponsoring action alerts and other activities in the coming weeks and months to turn our country from profligate nuclear weapons spending to meeting human needs and protecting our environment.

Meeting March in Tracy

HAGA CLIC AQUÍ para ver la invitación en Españól.

Tri-Valley CAREs’ Winter 2019 Newsletter, Citizen’s Watch

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Posted by Eric Luna

Tri-Valley CAREs’ quarterly newsletter, Citizen’s Watch, is now ready for you to enjoy. This edition is chock-full of news, reports, announcements, and events.

In our 8-page newsletter, you will find…

  • Warning on Plutonium Expansion in Hill Meetings. Page 1
  • Promoting Environmental Justice. Page 2
  • Doomsday Clock. Page 2
  • Calendar of Events. Page 3
  • Alert! Your Calls are Needed Now. Page 4
  • Tracy Community Meeting March 13 - English. Insert
  • Tracy Community Meeting March 13 – Spanish. Insert
  • Meet Raiza, our Bilingual Community Organizer - English. Insert
  • Meet Raiza, our Bilingual Community Organizer - Spanish. Insert

The first PDF contains the 4-page newsletter. The 4-page insert follows as a separate PDF.


For a PDF of the 4-page newsletter click here

For a separate PDF of the 4-page insert click here

Tri-Valley CAREs Sounds Warning on Plutonium Expansion in Hill Meetings and “Pit” Briefing Hosted in the Senate  

February 15, 2019

Posted by Kathy Crandall Robinson

Tri-Valley CAREs’ Executive Director Marylia Kelley headed to Washington, DC in late January to meet with colleague organizations and policymakers to make the case that expanded plutonium pit production will fuel a growing new nuclear arms race. Kelley and colleagues also shared internal National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and other documents showing the plan is prohibitively expensive and fraught with technical challenges.

Jay Coghlan, Executive Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico and TVC Senior Policy Consultant Kathy Crandall Robinson joined Marylia for a dozen meetings with congressional offices and Administration officials.  

We had the opportunity to speak with key new congressional staff and offices, and to discuss strategy with offices where we have already developed strong relationships. For example, we had a great meeting in Congressman John Garamendi’s office (D-CA-3) and are pleased to report that he remains committed to challenging expanded pit production.  We also had very fruitful meetings with Democratic staff for both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees and others.

A highlight of the DC trip was a policy briefing and discussion, “The Pitfalls of Plutonium Pits,” organized by Stephen Young of the Union of Concerned Scientists and hosted by Chris Hanson, Democratic professional staff on the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee, through which the nuclear weapons budget must pass. Special thanks are due to Chris Hanson for his insightful participation - and for securing the Dirksen Senate hearing room for the briefing.

Even with a declared snow emergency that shut down Congress, twenty people participated in the briefing and lively discussion that followed, including five key congressional staff and good representation from the DC arms control and disarmament community.  

Marylia Kelley started off the panel presentations by noting that although plans for expanded pit production are “not on the 6 O’clock news” they are nonetheless devastating to arms control and disarmament. She especially emphasized how pit production is intertwined with planned new weapons development and pressures to resume nuclear explosive testing in Nevada.  


Plans to produce at least 80 pits per year at two facilities (Los Alamos and Savannah River Site) would ensure that the United States is in the nuclear weapons production business forever and able to produce pits for warheads with new military capabilities. Marylia spoke to the ways in which new, industrial-scale pit production would provide the means for weapons designers to add new bombs and warheads to the arsenal, moving the U.S. further from the disarmament we seek and into uncharted new weapon design territory fraught with peril. Production of new-design pits for new warheads creates scientific uncertainty as these novel additions don't trace back to a "pedigree" of already-tested designs. This uncertainty will create pressure to resume nuclear testing in Nevada. It is clear that other nuclear-armed nations would follow suit.


Marylia further explained that pit production is being driven by the development of the W78 warhead replacement (to sit atop a new ICBM) now to be called the W87-1 warhead, which is being designed at Livermore Lab to be markedly different than its namesake. One key change is that this new warhead is being designed with a novel untested shape for its plutonium pit (thus requiring expanded pit production).

If this name-change game for the new warhead seems confusing, it is. For instance, there are already W87 warheads in the arsenal that have been successfully refurbished without changing their design. For simplicity, however, we will call this new-design beast the W87-1 warhead because that is the name NNSA has chosen for it.

Marylia closed her presentation noting the necessity to terminate this plan quickly before it further undermines arms control and disarmament and puts our public health, environmental safety and national treasury at risk.


Jay Coghlan’s presentation emphasized the ways in which NNSA’s plans for pit production run afoul of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Jay covered the value of NEPA’s technical analysis and public participation elements. Jay discussed the importance of congressional and public insistence on the crucial need and legal imperative for NNSA to conduct a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) analyzing the impacts of expanded pit production and alternatives to current plans. He noted the historical precedents of previous pit expansion plans that were defeated with pressure related to previous PEIS activities.  


Longstanding Tri-Valley CAREs members likely recall our group’s role in fighting off the Modern Pit Facility and the Complex 2030 “Consolidated Plutonium Center” to name two of the former proposals. As Jay noted in his closing remarks, we must prepare for a similar struggle and with the lever of the law (i.e., NEPA) we can succeed again.


Also presenting on the panel were Andy Weber, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical & Biological Defense and staff director of the Nuclear Weapons Council, and Professor Steve Fetter, former Assistant Director in the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. On the basis of informed, insider analysis, both men challenged the “need” for large-scale pit production to address the requirements of the current nuclear weapons stockpile. Each noted that the W78 could be retired as an alternative to creating this new, mash-up W87-1 warhead. Each offered a variation on the fundamental question, why not rely on the existing W87 rather than put a new design into the stockpile alongside it?


In the very good question and answer and discussion that followed the presentations, we heard a plea for more basic education and simple arguments making the case against pit production. We recognized the need for further education about additional pit production issues, and we noted questions that Congress and NGOs should raise, including:


  • Why is this level of production necessary given the approximately 20,000 existing pits stored at the Pantex facility that could be reused? What role could the proven technique of “pit reuse” play if we foreswore new designs?

  • How will we afford this and hope to meet all of the technical challenges, when NNSA’s preliminary estimate for expanded pit production tops $40 billion? How should we consider that many complicated NNSA projects go over-budget by factors of 2 to 10 - and some, like MOX at SRS and ignition at NIF at LLNL, never work as intended?

  • Why do we want to support this build-up of the nuclear arsenal and risk a return to nuclear explosive testing? What role could further arms control and disarmament play?

Tri-Valley CAREs plans for follow up include a series of east-to-read fact sheets and messages particularly aimed at new congressional staff on key committees. We will post our new fact sheets on our website and link as well to other materials crafted by colleague organizations.

In addition, as we receive more information about next year’s budget request at NNSA and plans around its “plutonium strategy,” we will urge questions from congressional offices at key opportunities.  We will also continue to reach out to arms control and disarmament colleague organizations in Washington, DC to integrate understanding of pit production and related nuclear weapons policy issues into their work.

Pit production and related issues will be featured as part of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability DC Days, May 20-22 which will include approximately 75 participants from nuclear weapons complex sites with approximately 100 congressional office and administration meetings.  Tri-Valley CARE’s will have a leadership role in shaping the education and strategy related to new nukes and pit production for DC Days. With current federal budget process delays, raising issues about pit production plans and costs in late May in DC will be particularly timely.

In sum, while Tri-Valley CAREs, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Nuclear Watch New Mexico made enormous strides in DC last month, your future participation in stopping expanded plutonium pit production is essential to the ultimate success of the project.

Stay tuned, check our website for new information, come to our monthly meetings for great discussion and action ideas, and join us for DC Days if your schedule allows (space is limited; timely RSVP is essential to marylia@earthlink.net or marylia@trivalleycares.org).

Click here for the PDF




Last Chance to Stop Trump’s “More Usable” Nuclear Warhead is Now

Friday, January 25, 2019

Posted by Marylia Kelley

This week, Representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Adam Smith (D-WA), the incoming Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, joined forces to reintroduce the “Hold the Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive (Hold the LYNE) Act” to prevent deployment of a new, more usable submarine-launched nuclear warhead.

Specifically, they circulated what’s called a “Dear Colleague” letter, which goes out to congressional offices asking other Members to join Reps. Lieu and Smith in introducing the bill this year.

The Congressmen begin the letter: “We invite you to join as an original cosponsor of the reintroduction of the Hold the Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive (Hold the LYNE) Act. Our legislation would reverse course on an unnecessary and destabilizing new low-yield nuclear warhead to be carried on US submarine-launched ballistic missiles.”

The letter continues, “Last May, more than 30 former officials, including former Defense Secretary William Perry, former Secretary of State George Schultz, and former Senator Richard Lugar, wrote a bipartisan letter rejecting the low-yield warhead as ‘dangerous, unjustified and redundant’.”

The Dear Colleague letter notes the new majority in the 116th Congress - and the fresh opportunity that represents to stop the deployment of this new warhead. The letter asks Members of Congress to contact Corey Jacobson, the Legislative Director for Rep. Lieu to sign on. That email address is: Corey.Jacobson@mail.house.gov

How can you help?

First, contact your Representative. The capitol switchboard is 202.224.3121. Ask for the Defense Aide, if he or she is available. Tell any staff person with whom you speak that you want your member of Congress to cosponsor this important bill. Be sure to mention the “Dear Colleague” letter that Rep. Ted Lieu and Rep. Adam Smith circulated. A link to the letter is HERE for easy reference.

Note: If the staff person is not sure whether the office received the Dear Colleague letter, you can give the staffer Corey Jacobson’s email address to follow up.

What is this new warhead?

As described in the Trump Nuclear Posture Review and fiscal 2019 budget, the new nuke, dubbed the W76-2, will be a submarine-launched low yield variant to sit atop Trident D5 missiles.

Reports indicate that its nuclear yield will be around 6.5 kilotons, about half the size of Hiroshima. According to the President, this new low-yield option will make a U.S. nuclear strike more “credible.” And, that’s the problem. In plain language, those words mean it’s more likely to be used. This warhead will lower the threshold for nuclear use and make a nuclear war more likely.

Why should you act immediately?

Certainly one reason is that the Hold the Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive (Hold the LYNE) Act has a real chance of passage this year, especially if it gathers a large number of cosponsors in the House. But that’s not the only reason immediate action is needed.

Because this low-yield, more usable W76-2 is a relatively simple modification of the existing higher-yield W76, with parts of its nuclear explosive package removed, it can be developed in short order. It initially showed up in the budget last year.

Today (January 25, 2019) a reporter for the industry-publication Nuclear Security and Deterrence Monitor, Dan Leone, tweeted out: “The Pantex Plant has initiated assembly of the W76-2 First Production Unit.”

Leone further notes that the Trump Administration says the National Nuclear Security Administration “is on track to complete the W76-2 Initial Operational Capability warhead quantity and deliver the units to the Navy by the end of Fiscal Year 2019.”

That means that this dangerous, more usable warhead could be rolling off the assembly line and headed toward its next phase (deployment) by September 30th. Stopping it next year could be too late.

Now is the time to stop the W76-2.  The Hold the Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive (Hold the LYNE) Act is the way. Call your member of Congress today.

Again, the capitol switchboard is 202.224.3121. The good news is that it’s not too late. If enough people call, and the new Congress acts, we can do this!

CLICK HERE for the Dear Colleague letter

Doomsday Clock Remains at 2-Minutes to Midnight

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Posted by Marylia Kelley

The resurgent risk of nuclear war and unresolved climate danger have caused the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to keep the Doomsday Clock set at 2-minutes to the apocalyptic midnight hour in what the magazine’s scientists and scholars, including 15 Nobel Laureates, decried as “the new abnormal.”

The minute hand did not move from last year, but that position is the closest to annihilation as it has ever been. “The fact the Doomsday Clock’s hands did not change is bad news,” said Robert Rosner, Chair of the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board.

Before 2018, the last time the Clock was set at 2-minutes to doom was in 1953, marking the first time both the Soviet Union and the United States possessed the ability to use powerful Hydrogen bombs.

We have returned to the greatest danger the world had ever known. The Bulletin’s statement noted that the “modernization” of arsenals currently underway in the U.S. and other nuclear-armed states is “all but indistinguishable from a worldwide arms race.”

Jerry Brown, our former California Governor and now Executive Chairman of the Bulletin, put it this way at the news conference, “The blindness and stupidity of politicians and their consultants is truly shocking in the face of nuclear catastrophe and danger.” Brown continued, “We are almost like travelers on the Titanic, seeing the iceberg up ahead but enjoying the elegant dining and the music.”

Moreover, the Bulletin said “the world failed dismally last year” to address climate change. “To halt the worst effects of climate change, the countries of the world must cut net worldwide carbon dioxide emissions to zero by well before the end of the century.”

The Trump administration’s nuclear and climate policies contributed to the decision to keep the hands so close to midnight noted the scientists. The Bulletin also noted the “corruption of the information ecosystem” is embrittling democracy and adding to the global risks.

The iconic Doomsday Clock was founded in 1947.

Promoting Environmental Justice for our Communities

Monday, January 21, 2019

Posted by Raiza Marciscano-Bettis

Tri-Valley CAREs' acting board president, Mary Perner, and bilingual community organizer, Raiza Marciscano-Bettis, met today in Tracy with newly-elected Congressman Josh Harder (D-CA-10) to discuss our members' environmental justice concerns regarding the Livermore Lab's Site 300 high explosives testing range, which is located near Tracy in the 10th Congressional District.

In particular, Raiza and Mary outlined our concerns about Livermore Lab's reticence to provide Spanish translations or community involvement opportunities as mandated by EPA guidelines in the Superfund cleanup of toxic and radioactive materials in the soil and water at Site 300.

Raiza and Mary also discussed our objections to the huge open-air bomb blasts planned at Site 300. Opposition to this project includes the City of Tracy, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and the Tracy Hills developer, among others. Thousands of residents signed our petition to stop the project, and many also provided comments and spoke at a public hearing last year.

Rep. Harder indicated his support for Tri-Valley CAREs' goals to engage and empower the Tracy area community. He pledged to work with us to carry out these goals. Rep. Harder was knowledgeable on the subject of Site 300 and showed an avid interest about what mattered to us.

Thank you, Rep. Harder, for meeting with constituents so soon after taking your oath of office in the U.S. Congress. We appreciate your attention to these major environmental justice issues that directly impact our communities.

CLICK HERE to read more.

CLICK HERE to sign petition to Protect California Air from Toxic Pollution.

HAGA CLIC AQUÍ para firmar petición para Proteger el aire de California de la contaminación tóxica.

Introducing New Bilingual Community Organizer

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Posted by Raiza Marciscano-Bettis

Hello team:

Hope you're all having a great day!

My name is Raiza Marciscano-Bettis, I have been hired as a Bilingual Community Organizer here at the Tri-Valley CAREs. I am originally from Panama (Central America). I have lived in the USA for more than 24 years! Since I know we will be working together to protect community health and the environment, I wanted to reach out and briefly introduce myself.

My main job will be promoting environmental justice, including by writing, speaking and translating in English and Spanish. I will be responsible for building community outreach and empowering residents in Tracy and San Joaquin County, as well as Livermore. I will be communicating factual information so you and your neighbors can influence decision-making at the Livermore National Laboratory. I will build and maintain relationships with governmental and non-governmental organizations to increase everyone's understanding of the cleanup of toxic pollutants at the Main Site and Site 300. I will also be responsible for posting information in English and Spanish on the Tri-Valley CAREs website.

I'm super excited to work with you all and am looking forward to meeting you personally during our upcoming meetings. Please, do not hesitate to reach out with anything you need. I am happy to participate in every way possible! Additionally, if you know of any Spanish-speaking residents, please send me their contact information or share mine. My email is: raiza@trivalleycares.org.

Kind Regards,

Raiza Marciscano-Bettis

Bilingual Community Organizer

Raiza cell: 925-980-4975


Hola equipo:

¡Espero que estén teniendo un buen día!

Mi nombre es Raiza Marciscano-Bettis, he sido contratada como una Organizadora Bilingüe de la Comunidad aquí en Tri-Valley CAREs. Soy originaria de Panamá (Central América). ¡He vivido en los Estados Unidos por más de 24 años! Ya que vamos a trabajar juntos para proteger la salud de la comunidad y el medio ambiente, quería presentarme brevemente.

Mi trabajo principal será promover la justicia ambiental, como también escribir, hablar y traducir en inglés y español. Voy a ser responsable de construir la comunidad y dar poder a los habitantes de Tracy y el Condado de San Joaquín, así como también Livermore. Voy a comunicar información factual para que usted y sus vecinos puedan influir en la toma de decisiones en el Laboratorio Nacional de Livermore. Voy a construir y mantener relaciones con organizaciones gubernamentales y no gubernamentales para aumentar la comprensión de todo el mundo de la limpieza de contaminantes tóxicos en el Sitio Principal y Sitio 300. También seré responsable de publicar información en inglés y en español en las páginas de web de Tri-Valley CAREs.

Estoy super emocionada de trabajar con todos ustedes y espero conocerlos personalmente durante nuestras próximas reuniones. Por favor, no vacilen en preguntarme cualquier cosa que necesiten. ¡Estoy feliz de participar en cualquier forma que sea posible! Además, si ustedes saben de cualquier residente de habla hispana, por favor envíenme su contacto o compartan mi información. Mi correo electrónico es: raiza@trivalleycares.org.


Raiza Marciscano-Bettis

Organizador Bilingüe de la Comunidad

Raiza cell: 925-980-4975

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Posted by Eric Luna

Build Peace & Justice in the New Year

A Snapshot of Cleanup at the Livermore Lab

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Posted by Marylia Kelley

As we begin the New Year, we are cognizant of new opportunities and ongoing responsibilities. Tri-Valley CAREs will continue to involve the community in Superfund cleanup decisions at the Livermore Lab Main Site and Site 300 near Tracy. Our goal is to ensure a comprehensive cleanup that will reflect the needs of the affected residents and protect the land, air, water for generations to come. We offer this factsheet based on a 16-site series written by staff at an industry “trade” publication, Weapons Complex Monitor. Tri-Valley CARS provided information for the series, and is quoted, however the editorial perspective is that of the publication. Read on…

HAGA CLIC AQUÍ para leer la información en Españól.

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