Action Alert! Taos County Commission to Vote on RCLC Membership on Tuesday, May 4th

By Norteños for Peaceful and Sustainable Futures

Dear friends,

Please see below and urge your commissioner to vote to withdraw.

We will be much better off and in much better position to influence the levers of power without this organization.  It is not too late to stop industrial-scale plutonium pit production and ultimately all nuclear weapons missions at LANL.

A few talking of many possible points for withdrawal from RCLC to choose from:

 1.) Neither the RCLC’s legally binding governing document or its activities are in alignment with Taos values, which oppose nuclear weapons production at LANL, support nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, have adopted a 2019 Climate Resolution, the Earthday Proclamation, and are striving to move into the future by developing sustainable and resilient social and economic models.

     a.) Both the RCLC’s original and the Restated and Amended Joint Powers Agreements explicitly authorize its Board to support and advocate for full funding of all LANL missions including industrial-scale plutonium pit production. The language in the RCLC’s legally binding governing document, the Joint Powers Agreement asserts this authority in a number of clauses previously provided to the commission, including under Recitals, “The Parties share a common interest in assuring that LANL’s missions remain sustainable and diversified.. . and under Authorities, “promotion of new missions for LANL that the citizens of the coalition members support, “and “Advocacy of long-term stable funding of LANL’s missions,” 

     b.) Because of the above language contained  in the JPA, DOE and LANL can accurately say to federal representatives and policymakers that the member governments of the RCLC support all of LANL’s missions (which are mostly one mission: nuclear weapons, including pit production). 

    c.) Over its lifespan, the RCLC board has persistently ignored public concerns requesting language in the JPA be removed or altered to limit the RCLC’s mission to non-nuclear weapons and non-weapons-related activities.

    d.) By belonging to the RCLC our communities surrender a portion of their sovereignty to the national security state and the nuclear weapons enterprise. The RCLC basically formalizes a feudal-style relationship between the people of Northern New Mexico and LANL, LANL playing the “Duke on the Hill, and a colonial relationship between NNSA’s LANL contractor, Triad National Security LLC, and its local government and tribal members.  

 2.) Jobs and economy argument:

    a.) The RCLC supports LANL’s active recruitment of our youth into nuclear workforce development pipelines that steal them away from the countless jobs we need that are critical to achieving the sustainable and resilient economies necessary for and which benefit the good of all the people—not the good of the already very rich nuclear weapons enterprise. This is an existential issue that must be examined and addressed at the local level.

    b.) According to the LANL funded and commissioned UNM BBER Economic Impact Study claiming a $3.1 billion dollar impact on New Mexico, Taos County has 272 LANL employees. Some claim this percentage of our population that commutes to LANL for jobs as a reason to maintain membership in the RCLC. Why should this tiny minority of the Taos population dictate Taos’ position on membership in the RCLC? Why should their economic interests and dependence on LANL’s missions be elevated above the interests of thousands of other citizens’ needs and values?

    c.) Is a question: Can our new or old board representatives or any of the Commission or RCLC board members specify any measurable or tangible benefits Taos County has derived from its membership in the RCLC.  

3.) Some claim we must support LANL missions or at least not speak out against nuclear weapons as an argument to maintain membership in the RCLC. Nuclear weapons have no place in the sustainable and resilient future Taos County is striving for. Again, this argument puts LANL employees’ needs and the nuclear weapons enterprise over the common good of all. 

4.) Conflicts of interest in the RCLC’s mission and Board membership:

    a.) The DOE/NNSA is moving ahead very rapidly with its plans for industrial-scale plutonium pit production at LANL. Soliciting taxpayer dollars in the form of a grant from the DOE is in conflict of interest to Taos values.

    b.) The number of RCLC Board members with direct financial ties to LANL, zero at the RCLC’s inception in 2011, has steadily increased during the past decade. Currently, two board members are current LANL employees, and a third member is a retired LANL employee. 

5.)  “Voice at the table:” The RCLC’s voice serves the interests of LANL, NNSA and the nuclear weapons enterprise, not the people of Northern New Mexico.  (Read the RCLC’s home page carefully; read the minutes of meetings; attend meetings; it becomes self-evident.)

 6.) The City of Santa Fe has rejected the Restated and Amended JPA and is tentatively scheduled for an up or down vote on membership on May 12.  Santa Fe County is also reconsidering its membership in the RCLC.

7.) Our local governments are overworked. Commissioners and Council members do not have enough time to be well informed about LANL’s impacts on regional communities, therefore the coalition board is not in a position to ask substantive questions of LANL employees and other officials, about presentations given at board meetings, or make informed decisions on actions it takes. Oftentimes, board members don’t even have time to review the agendas prior to meetings. Board members are not familiar with the website and its very serious lack of transparency and openness. Our local leaders do not need to help LANL. LANL can and does help itself with billions of taxpayer dollars.

8.) Jemez Pueblo is claimed as a member by the RCLC but has not participated or paid in years. In fact, the JPA with signature pages on the April 16 RCLC agenda does not include a signature page for Jemez Pueblo. This is a further example of the RCLC’s incompetence, lack of openness and transparency, furtiveness, dishonesty, duplicity.

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