Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Under Scrutiny – La Jicarita

ource: Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Under Scrutiny – La Jicarita

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC) has been in the news (Santa Fe New Mexican) lately for certain transgressions it may have committed in its spending and reimbursement processes.  Its executive director, Andrea Romero, has also been in the news declaring her primary challenge of Democratic State Representative Carl Trujillo of District 46, which includes part of Santa Fe and the Pojoaque Valley, home to the Aamodt Adjudication Settlement. The RCLC is comprised of the City of Española, Los Alamos County, Ohkay Owingeh, Pueblo of Jemez, Rio Arriba County, Santa Fe County, City of Santa Fe, Taos County, and Town of Taos.

Its purpose is stated on its website: “The Regional Coalition is a conduit for Northern New Mexico communities to make a direct impact on local, state and federal government decision-making in regional economic development and nuclear cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL).

The Regional Coalition is comprised of elected and tribal officials representing their local communities to ensure national decisions incorporate local needs and interests.”While the connections between the RCLC’s finances, Romero, and her political run will be explored later in this article, La Jicarita has long been keeping track of just exactly what the RCLC really does and why it exists.

In May of 2012 we ran a guest editorial by Marilyn Gayle Hoff in which she described the Coalition’s role this way: “The Town of Taos recently joined the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, portrayed as a benign organization offering neighboring towns and counties input into Los Alamos National Laboratory policies.

In truth, the coalition was formed to employ a lobbying firm, paid for by coalition members, to milk the federal government for funding for LANL. Coalition members, the governing bodies of cities, towns, and counties downstream and downwind of LANL, are bilked for annual payments proportionate to how many Lab employees live within their jurisdictions.

”She went on to point out that the vast majority of LANL’s budget goes towards the development of nuclear weapons while the Lab has repeatedly failed to meet clean-up deadlines imposed by the New Mexico Environment Department.In an article I wrote, in July of 2012, members of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities and other folks from the business community traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby for “retaining the $2.25 billion LANL budget.”

At the July 17 meeting of the Regional Coalition in Española, Reverend Holly Beaumont of Santa Fe stood up and asked what the group’s position was on the Chemistry and Metallurgy Replacement Research nuclear facility (CMRR) and if it would be lobbying to reinstate the funding that was recently put on hold. The coalition’s moderator quickly answered that the group did not have a position on the CMRR. Newly elected coalition chair, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss [newly elected 2018 mayor Alan Webber will now be a member of the Coalition], added that the group lobbied for clean-up and was moving on to “economic development.” He didn’t address what that economic development entails.

Then in a long article in March of 2013 I wrote about the connections between the RCLC and the Rocky Flats Coalition of Local Governments, whose consultants helped in the formation of RCLC and who “assisted in the effort to convert Rocky Flats to a Wildlife Refuge, an outcome which required much lower standards for clean-up than, for example, human residency.” (Jeanne Green in a letter to the Taos News.)

Green’s point was that their influence on the creation of the RCLC created a credibility gap that the mission of RCLC is to lobby for clean-up of LANL.It appears the raison d’ etre of the Coalition is to lobby for LANL funding across the board, without any assessment of what that funding may be for or the impact it may have on the economic health—which the Coalition, the New Mexico congressional delegation, the state legislature, and the DOE equate with the social and environmental health—of the people of northern New Mexico.