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Setting A Course For N.M.’s Labs via ABQ Journal Online

Nuclear weaponry is big business in New Mexico.

More than 20,000 people work at Sandia and Los Alamos labs, two of the nation’s three nuclear weapon design and maintenance research centers, and the companies and government offices that support their work.

With budgets totaling $4.6 billion per year in taxpayer funding, the two labs are an economic force that cannot be ignored by members of the state’s congressional delegation. And while efforts to diversify the labs’ missions have waxed and waned over the years, nuclear weapons work remains the core of their mission and the largest single part of their budgets.

Candidates on the campaign trail this summer say much of the questioning they get on lab issues involves money and jobs in the uncertain federal budget environment of the coming year. But the people hoping to represent New Mexico in the United States Congress also face important questions of national security policy that will have a major effect on the labs’ future.

How to deal with costs overruns on Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement building and the Obama administration’s resulting decision to indefinitely defer the project are at the top of the agenda.

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