February 15th Public Meeting about the Proposed LANL Electrical Line Across the Caja del Rio

As promised, a second public meeting on the proposed Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) upgrade project to expand electrical power capacity will begin at 4 pm on Thursday, February 15th at the Santa Fe Community College.  The first virtual and in-person public meeting was held at the same location on January 11th.

The proposed project is described in a draft environmental assessment that is out for public review and comment, with comments due February 20th.   https://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeea-2199-los-alamos-national-laboratory-electrical-power-capacity-upgrade-project

To craft your public comment, check out the Caja del Rio Coalition’s example letter at https://cajadelrio.org/lanltransmissionline/

The proposed project comprises a 14-mile, 115 kiloVolt overhead electrical line that would be added to the two overhead lines that cross the Caja del Rio and the Rio Grande to the Pajarito Plateau, where LANL is located.

As the proposed project would cross Santa Fe National Forest lands, LANL is requesting amendments to the 2022 Land Management Plan.  The request includes the issuance of a Special Use Permit to establish a utility corridor for the transmission line.

There are many unanswered questions about the proposal.  LANL claims it needs the additional power line to run its supercomputers.

But a September 2021 post in the Los Alamos Reporter by Ted Wyka, the DOE/NNSA Manager of the Los Alamos Field Office, told a different story.  At that time, the uses included “state-of-the-air science experiments, innovation, and training in accelerator and neutron science, medical isotope production and research, and next-generation computing…”  https://losalamosreporter.com/2021/09/27/lanl-power-upgrade-would-provide-lab-los-alamos-county-with-reliable-and-redundant-electrical-power/

There is no explanation for the change.

Nearly three years ago, over 650 public comments addressed the subjects that would be covered in the draft environmental assessment.  Those comments alone necessitated DOE/NNSA to elevate its analyses into a more complete environmental impact statement.  But the federal agencies did not do so.

Did you know DOE/NNSA/LANL is six years behind schedule to release a draft site-wide environmental impact statement about its day-to-day operations as well as proposed projects such as the electrical upgrade project?

Nevertheless, the draft SWEIS has not been released for public review and comment, even though it was supposed to be released last fall.  In the meantime, LANL continues to expand its operations to fabricate the plutonium cores of nuclear weapons without any cumulative impacts analyses for the increased use of water, emissions into the air, waste generation, and transportation impacts for the 2,000 new employees, etc.

Fabricating plutonium cores for nuclear weapons requires electricity – how much is unknown.  More analyses are needed through a separate environmental impact statement and/or through the SWEIS, in which case, the environmental assessment process must be put on hold.

To learn about the 106,000-acre Caja del Rio, please visit the beautiful and informative website of the Caja del Rio Coalition at www.cajadelrio.org

An interview with KTRC-AM (Richard Eeds) with NM Wild/Caja del Rio Coalition with Carmichael Dominguez and Garrett VeneKlasen is available here:  https://santafe.com/podcast/richard-eeds-show-january-24-2024-4/

  1. Friday, February 2, 2024 from noon to 1 pm MT – Join the weekly peaceful protest for nuclear disarmament on the four corners of Alameda and Sandoval in downtown Santa Fe with Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, Loretto Community, Pax Christi, Nonviolent Santa Fe, and others. Join us!



  1. Monday, February 5th10-year anniversary of the truck fire in the WIPP underground. Six employees were treated for smoke inhalation at the Carlsbad Medical Center and then released.   Operations were suspended and shipments to the site were stopped.  http://nuclearactive.org/salt-hauling-vehicle-catches-fire-in-wipp-underground/ and http://nuclearactive.org/doe-begins-investigation-of-vehicle-fire-in-wipp-underground-2/



  1. Friday, February 9thComments due to DOE about the Hexavalent Chromium Remediation in Sandia and Mortandad Canyons Project Floodplain Assessment. It’s a 15-day comment period.  Submit comments by email to:  EMLA-NEPA@em.doe.gov.  For more information:  https://www.energy.gov/nepa/articles/chromium-remediation-sandia-and-mortandad-canyons-project-floodplain-assessment 



  1. Monday, February 12th Comments due about LANL and its entities’ proposed Chromium Interim Measure and “final” Remedy of the hexavalent chromium plume (DOE/EA-2216). For more information and to  download the document:  https://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeea-2216-chromium-interim-measure-and-final-remedy-los-alamos-new-mexico    Check back to http://www.nuclearactive.org for talking points and sample public comments you can use to craft your own. 



  1. Wednesday, February 14thmarking the 10th anniversary of the explosion of one or more drums of transuranic (plutonium-contaminated) waste in the WIPP underground.  The remembrance will begin at the East Entrance to the New Mexico Statehouse at 12:45 pm.  Musicians will perform songs of satire about the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).  At 1 pm the activities will move into the Rotunda.  A rose bouquet with the names of at-risk communities along the route from LANL to Lamy will be presented to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to convey our thanks for what she’s done and remind her that more is needed to keep New Mexicans safe.



  1. Thursday, February 15th beginning at 4 on at Santa Fe Community College about the proposed Electrical Power Capacity Upgrade Project. See this week’s Update. 



  1. Tuesday, February 20thComments due about the LANL’s Electrical Power Capacity Upgrade Project for a 115 kV line across the Caja del Rio, the Rio Grande to LANL. Check back to http://www.nuclearactive.org for talking points and sample public comments you can use to craft your own.


The SECOND public comment period opened the Los Alamos National Laboratory Electrical Power Capacity Upgrade Project Draft Environmental Assessment (DOE/EA-2911) for construction and operation of a new 115 kilovolt (kV) power transmission line and upgrading LANL’s existing infrastructure.  For more information and to ACT NOW:  Protect the Caja del Rio!  Stop the Power Transmission Line at https://p2a.co/mhyopdf


The SECOND public comment period ends on Tuesday, February 20, 2024.


The Draft EA is available in the NNSA NEPA Reading Room at: https://www.energy.gov/nnsa/nnsa-nepa-reading-room or directly at https://energy.gov/nepa/doeea-2199-los-alamos-national-laboratory-electrical-power-capacity-upgrade-project 



  1. Sunday, February 25th at 1 pm – showing of the “TV Event” at the Guild Cinema, 3405 Central Avenue NE, Albuquerque, NM. https://www.guildcinema.com/movies/television-event  

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