Reading Room

Time for Public Comment on LLNL

August, 27, 2020
The Independent News

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory plans to conduct a Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement, a process required by the National Environmental Policy Act and the Department of Energy to analyze the environmental impacts of the lab’s operation over the next 15 years. Currently in “scoping” for the draft document, which likely will come out sometime next year, this will be the only opportunity for the public to engage, comment and influence the operations of LLNL, one of three federal nuclear weapons labs, consisting of two superfund cleanup sites, until 2036.

Tri-Valley CAREs, a local non-profit watchdog group, has asked the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Agency for years to conduct this process. The agency’s timing, during a global pandemic and during a presidential election season, appears intended to minimize public involvement in the activities of this controversial nuclear weapons lab. We at CAREs will not let them get away with this.

The Notice of Intent, which can be read at, includes a statement of “purpose and need” in which the DOE has the audacity to claim “The U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure is aging and historically underfunded.”

The NNSA has squandered hundreds of billions of dollars on these weapons of mass destruction. This same agency requested $15.6 billion taxpayer dollars for nuclear weapons activities for fiscal 2021. LLNL requested $2.2 billion. Despite years of massive budget increases for nuclear weapons activities, LLNL asserts that half of the lab’s operating buildings are currently inadequate or in substandard condition. If so, why hasn’t past funding been used to maintain existing infrastructure? How much are we as Americans willing to spend on these dangerous weapons during a pandemic in which joblessness has skyrocketed, while the country cries out for improved medical care and research?

The “scoping process” is an opportunity for the public to assist NNSA in determining the alternatives and issues for analysis.” However, the Notice of Intent states there are alternatives “that NNSA will not consider as reasonable to examine,” illustrating the agency’s unwillingness to self-examine or analyze reasonable “alternatives,” such as repurposing and funding expansion of LLNL’s work for other crucial scientific endeavors, such as climate change solutions or health research.

Tri-Valley CAREs seeks to extend the comment period to give the public more opportunity for engagement. Please join us in this effort to engage in the future of the nuclear weapons lab.

Mary Perner


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