Tri-Valley CAREs has more news on President Biden’s first annual budget. Finally the Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has been released, months later than usual.

The numbers show a continued momentum for nuclear weapons spending although the Biden Administrated has yet to complete its nuclear posture review, which is expected to illuminate the President’s overall priorities and policy goals.

The FY22 budget request for Livermore Lab is more than $2.2 billion. This request matches the amount appropriated by Congress for the Lab last year, maintaining nearly all of the increase provided by the Trump Administration.

The FY22 request also continues the former administration’s ongoing boost in funding for the budget line called Nuclear Weapons Activities, which includes the development of new and modified nuclear weapons at the Lab. That funding level for nuclear weapons comes at the expense of other priorities, like decontaminating “high risk” buildings and civilian science.

The FY22 budget detail is contained in the Department of Energy Laboratory Tables. The deeper one digs into them, the bleaker the truth that emerges.

The request for Livermore Lab in FY22 is $2,233,140,000, which is $20m (1%) less than what the Lab received for the same programs last year. (Notably, the Lab’s funding rose 45% during Trump’s term in office.)

Also last year Congress increased its actual appropriation for the Lab’s budget by ~$220 million (11%). Thus, Biden’s first year budget request for LLNL is actually 10% higher than the final year of the Trump Administration’s budget request for the Lab.

The Winners and Losers 

Weapons Activities: As you can see in the pie chart, the FY22 request for Nuclear Weapons Activities is $1,912,915,000. This represents 85.6% of all the money requested for Livermore Lab in FY22.

And, within the Nuclear Weapons Activities budget, the funding for Stockpile Major Modernization – predominantly the development of three major new nuclear weapon designs, the W80-4, W87-1 and W93 – is up 12% over last year. That’s after it rose a staggering 77% for FY 2021.

Bottom line: Nearly a 90% spending increase in just two years for three new nukes. Wow!

Other Programs: Let’s compare the funds for Nuclear Weapons Activities to the Lab’s budget request for (non-weapons) Science, which is a mere 2% of the total. And, as you can see from the pie chart, research on Energy Efficiency and Renewables doesn’t even crack 1% of the request. And Defense Nuclear Non-Proliferation is struggling at the 8.6% mark.

This is a budget request that supports and accelerates a new global nuclear arms race. While this may alarm but not surprise LLNL watchdogs, the concomitant lack of consideration given to public safety and the environment, via cleanup and Decontaminating & Decommissioning (D&D) contaminated buildings, is shocking in its own right.

The “High Risk” buildings requiring priority D&D at the Lab include the old, contaminated (with radiation and other toxins) nuclear reactor located just within the Lab’s fence line off Vasco Road and Westgate Drive. This old reactor has huge cracks in the walls and shielding that can be seen with the naked eye.

Tri-Valley CAREs members have raised the alarm in Washington, DC and locally about these heavily contaminated, abandoned buildings at Livermore Lab and other sites in the nuclear weapons complex. We were able last year to get $109,000,000 worth of D&D funding reinstated at Livermore Lab.

This year’s request of $35,000,000 means that the D&D of the “High Risk” buildings will continue, albeit at a snail’s pace. It’s infuriating that the government is letting worker and public risks persist while simultaneously throwing money at the development of new nuclear weapons, an activity that causes new harms and fresh contamination.

One bright spot for FY22 is a 15% decrease for the Inertial Confinement Fusion budget line in the request. This program at the National Ignition Facility at LLNL has been long overdue for a budget reduction given the paucity of its usable science and three decades of failure to achieve its stated goal of ignition. (Notable too, is that the facility uses bits of plutonium as well as radioactive hydrogen in its nuclear weapons experiments.)

Funding Turnaround Needed: We at Tri-Valley CAREs have a long way to go in transforming Livermore into a “Green Lab” dedicated to a civilian science mission and the moral obligation to clean up the environment from decades of nuclear weapons programs.

In fact, the FY22 budget request rapidly moves LLNL in the opposite direction. We will continue to challenge this momentum. Our work in in the coming months and years will seek to change what gets funded at Livermore Lab.

We aim to centrally change Livermore Lab’s mission and, in doing do, achieve ours. Join us!