DOE budget: Pueblo cleanup Indian funds cut
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APRIL 13, 2001

The Department of Energy's proposed fiscal year 2002 budget cuts all funds to clean up contaminated lands the government is required to turn over to San Ildefonso Pueblo and two New Mexico counties.

Submitted on Monday to Congress by Secretary Spencer Abraham and President George W. Bush, the budget request for the DOE is $19.2 billion. Compared to the budget authority limit, the amount is about 3.6 percent less than 2001.

Cuts show up in the Environmental Restoration and Waste Management program, down from $1.1 billion in 2001 to $912 million. The program is responsible for cleanup of sites throughout the country.

In New Mexico, the changes affect cleanup of land taken over by the government for the Los Alamos National Laboratory, birthplace of the atomic bomb. The Pueblo of San Ildefonso lost land to the effort and Congress eventually directed the DOE to return land to tribe, provided the parcels were free from contamination.

The tribe is due to receive about half of an identified 4,600 acres by law. Los Alamos County will receive about half, with a small portion going to Santa Fe County.

But in fiscal year 2002, which begins in October of this year, no funds would be available to continue the project to return the land to the tribe and the counties. Since the action is mandated for completion by 2007, funding would have to be continued in future years to carry out the goal.

Similar projects throughout the country are slated for cuts. Included is cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington, built on Yakama Nation land and used by tribes up until the construction of the nuclear weapons site built in 1943.

In total, the budget request for projects due to be completed by 2007 has been slashed by $253 million to $2.9 billion.

Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) said these and other cuts represent "serious deficiencies" in the Bush administration's budget. Domenici chairs the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds DOE.

In putting this budget together so quickly, Domenici said President Bush had "made some serious errors." But there is room for changes, he added: "The budget by itself doesn't mean anything other than a recommendation. It is sometimes followed, it is not always followed."

Elsewhere within the department, funding for Indian Country is being affected by a number of cuts. The request for the Renewable Support and Implementation program, which investigates alternative and renewable energy sources such as wind and geothermal energy, is $5.1 million, down from $21.5 million in 2001.

Within this program, request of $2.1 million, down from $4.0 million in 2001, has been made for Renewable Program Support grants. Part of the funding will go to tribal college projects.

The $6.6 million Indian Energy Resources Program is being eliminated altogether. The DOE says the project is completed.

Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) called the DOE budget "anti-energy" and said it is "opposite one would expect from an administration that has used the word 'crisis' to describe our current energy situation."

Get the Budget:
FY 2002 DOE Budget Summary (DOE 4/9)

Relevant Links:
Revised tribal policy, Department of Energy -
Tribal Nations Involvement, Office of Environmental Management -
Los Alamos National Laboratory -

Related Stories:
The Budget Overview (03/01)
Tribe seeks better nuclear cleanup (12/15)
Richardson, Babbitt pledge support (11/14)
Report: DOE wasting cleanup money (11/2)
DOE revises tribal policies (11/1)