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DOE Warns Of lab Layoffs

July 7, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 27

Some 1,800 nuclear weapons lab staff would have to be laid off to comply with congressional funding cuts to the Department of Energy 2009 budget request. The House Appropriations Committee recently reduced the President's request for DOE's nuclear weapons program by $416 million to $6.2 billion, $96 million less than the 2008 appropriation, including a rescission of $165 million from previously approved funds. This marks the latest in a string of flat or reduced budgets for Los Alamos, Livermore, and Sandia National Laboratories. The cuts make it difficult for the labs to maintain the nuclear weapons stockpile, says John Broehm, a DOE spokesman. Particularly, Broehm pointed to elimination of funds that Los Alamos needs to maintain the W88 nuclear warhead. The committee cut this funding, saying the warhead is "outdated and should be put out of service." Broehm says the cuts could lead to layoffs similar to those of Livermore scientists last month (C&EN, June 30, page 30). The DOE funding bill is expected to clear the House mostly unscathed but will face opposition in the Senate. Overall, the House committee increased DOE's appropriation to $27.2 billion, $2.7 billion more than 2008, and the Office of Science's to $4.9 billion, an $844 million boost from 2008.


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