Tri-Valley CAREs is in a whirlwind of preparations for “DC Days” 2023. This 4-day event in late April brings activists from around the country to Washington, DC to speak truth to power to Congress and the Administration about the impacts of nuclear weapons on our communities.
The event is organized by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) and its member groups, including Tri-Valley CAREs.
Scott Yundt, our longstanding staff attorney, and board member Pam Richard both serve on the national DC Days planning committee for this event, now in its thirty-fifth year. Marylia Kelley serves on the committee that wrote this year’s report to Congress, “Break the Cycle for a Safer Future,” which contains major recommendations to reorient our country’s nuclear weapons and waste policies.
DC Days 2023 will kick off with an all-day advocacy training for activists on April 23, where the policy recommendations in “Break the Cycle…” will be front and center. In the days that follow, we will participate in scores of pre-set meetings with members of Congress, their committee and personal staff, and top officials in the Biden Administration.
Your Tri-Valley CAREs team and ANA colleagues will undertake the advocacy needed to stop dangerous new nuclear weapons, including the warheads being designed (i.e., created) at Livermore Lab. Constraining new plutonium bomb core production and promoting the rule of law and the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons are also central to our DC agenda.
Furthermore, our work will oppose bad nuclear waste policies, increase government accountability, and preserve important cleanup activities at nuclear weapons sites. Notably, we will be talking about Livermore Lab in particular because the cleanup of toxic and radioactive contamination in our soils and groundwater is at risk due to a proposed 10-percent cut in federal funding for the Lab’s Superfund cleanup program.
We will be telling our stories, which is important because members of Congress rarely see the faces and hear the voices of those of us from fenceline communities who bear the brunt of the pollution stemming from the nuclear cycle. And, we will be demanding concrete action on each of our policy recommendations!
YOUR VOICE WILL HELP – HERE’S HOW
Call your Senators and Representative while Tri-Valley CAREs and dozens more ANA groups are in Washington, DC holding meetings with Congress. Our meetings will be happening from Monday, April 24 through Wednesday, April 26. If you cannot call during those dates, please call as close to them as possible.
You can use the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
Tell your Senators and Representative that your friends in Tri-Valley CAREs and the national Alliance for Nuclear Accountability are conducting meetings this week and you want to add your voice on nuclear policy. Always mention that you are a constituent, and it’s common to do so by giving your Zip Code along with your name at the beginning of the call. As a constituent, your message will be elevated.
Here are some additional tips for making your telephone advocacy effective:
- Choose a single ask (there is a list below with talking points) and stick with that one topic. If you see more than one ask on the list that you would like to make, call back the next day. Or, invite a small group of friends, co-activists, or family members to make calls with you and divvy up the asks that way.
- The staff person you talk to will be writing up your comments – so clarity and brevity are key to being fully heard and understood. Make sure your stance is clear and concise. For example, state that you are calling to oppose any funding by Congress for a new nuclear Sea-Launched Cruise Missile rather than offering a vague statement of unspecified concerns.
- If you have a personal connection to the topic, consider in advance of calling how you might share that in a single short sentence. For example, if you are calling for full funding for cleanup of Livermore Lab pollution and you live in Livermore or Tracy, note that you live near the site and want to be sure cleanup gets fully funded so that your family’s health is protected. Do let the staff person know there is a real human on the phone. But don’t go on longer than a sentence or two or your point will get lost.
- Always say that you want to be informed of any action your legislator takes on the request that is the subject of your call. For example, if you are asking your Representative to cosponsor House Resolution 77 (H. Res.77) supporting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons tell the staff person you want to be informed when it happens. Offer your email address. It holds them gently accountable. (BTW, you can also get info on H.Res.77 and also see the cosponsors at Congress.gov by typing in the title.)
- Always be courteous and thank the staff person at the end of the call. In addition to being the right thing to do, if you do this the staff person will remember your call just a little bit better!
- Smile and have fun. Democracy is not a spectator sport, true, but participation in it can be fun! Your voice matters! You did it! Pat yourself on the back. You don’t need to be perfect to be effective.
- Here is a bonus suggestion for those who have done these calls before: Ask to speak to the Defense Aide or another available staff person who handles this portfolio.
PRIORITY ASKS, TALKING POINTS, AND OUR DC DAYS REPORT “BREAK THE CYCLE…”
Stop New Nuclear Warheads:
One of the new warheads that Tri-Valley CAREs and ANA are opposing is a new nuclear Sea-Launched Cruise Missile. Livermore Lab is designing the new warhead for this weapon system. Funding for a new Sea-Launched Cruise Missile was NOT requested by the Biden Administration’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget. However, hawkish members of Congress have vowed to fund it anyway, just like they did last year. (More talking points can be found in the ANA report on Page 4).
Support Rule of Law and Nuclear Disarmament
Congress should pass House Resolution 77, which supports the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and other common sense measures to truly address long-term U.S. and global safety and security. Tri-Valley CAREs and ANA will be highlighting H.Res. 77 in our House meetings. (More talking points can be found in the ANA report on Page 6, and the full text is at Congress.gov)
Stop New Bomb Plants:
Tri-Valley CAREs and ANA are focusing on preventing new and expanded plutonium bomb core (pit) production. We are calling on Congress to cut funding for the budget line called “Plutonium Modernization.” Nearly $3 billion is being requested in the coming year in that budget line to enable new pit production. (More talking points can be found in the ANA report on Page 5.)
Cleanup Don’t Build Up:
Recent estimates put the cost of cleanup for nuclear wastes already in our environment due to nuclear weapons programs at $847 billion. Yet the Department of Energy only asked for “flat funding” for nationwide cleanup next year. At Livermore Lab, the prioritization of new warheads over pollution cleanup has resulted in a proposed 10-percent cut for cleanup in Fiscal Year 2024. This cut, if not reversed, will put the efficacy of the Lab’s cleanup program in jeopardy – and the question will become – which important radioactive leak should not be stopped; which important soil or groundwater cleanup project should be delayed? This puts our health, our environment, and our future at risk. (More talking points on the national cleanup program can be found in the ANA report on Page 7.)