June 1, 2001

Tauscher comes to Lab to field employee questions on budget, energy crisis

Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (D-Tassajara Valley) told Lab employees that their tax-refund check "is in the mail." Tauscher, who represents the Lab’s congressional district, is in a position to know, as she spent part of her Memorial Day weekend in Washington voting for the tax relief bill.

Tauscher stopped at the Lab yesterday to field questions from employees on topics ranging from tax cuts to the California power crisis. Because the congresswoman sits on both the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, she has been heavily involved with areas that affect Lab employees.

"We’ve been working with Gen. John Gordon (of the National Nuclear Security Administration) to get funding in the defense budget for issues that affect the Lab," Tauscher said. "We have decided that programs like [the] National Ignition Facility are important parts of our nuclear program, and for stockpile stewardship."

Tauscher did qualify her assurances, however.

"We have no idea what the defense budget will look like this year," she said. "Whether we agree with the president, we need to give him a chance to get his administration running, and we need to help him work to get things accomplished."

Lab employees questioned Tauscher about preserving their ability to "do science" at the national labs.

"We work to balance the smaller departments with the ‘big science’ done here, like nuclear weapons work," Tauscher said. "Part of the way we’re doing that is by showing people what a national treasure these labs are, and what great work is accomplished here."

Several employee questions also focused on energy and water supplies, and Tauscher noted that the energy problem stemmed from "bad deregulation" and would require several sources to create a solution.

"We need affordable, safe, predictable power, and we can do that through a blended portfolio of water, wind and solar energy sources," she stated. "But if you think our power is bad, you should see the water situation in California." Tauscher noted that several California lawmakers are already working together to create solutions for a future water crisis before it occurs.

"We’re going to try and keep from repeating the some of the same mistakes with water that we have made with power," she said.
Tauscher ended her session by encouraging employees to continue working, even in the face of possible budget cuts and energy shortages. "Know that we will fight for what [the Lab] needs," Tauscher said.