Things have been quiet on the NBAF front of late. Other than a brief kerfuffle over Texas’ attempt to sweeten the deal by throwing more state money on the table, it’s really been a waiting game for the most part. As everyone likely knows by now, the final environmental impact statement should appear soon with a site recommendation. Thirty days after its appearance, the Department of Homeland Security, specifically Jay Cohen, can issue a final site selection.
As The Mercury helpfully pointed out the other day, this can only happen if the EIS is issued by December 21st, since Jay Cohen and the rest of the Bush appointees are out of a job on January 20th. What this means is that there will certainly be a pell mell rush to get the EIS out (meaning we’ll likely see as many glaring errors as we saw in the draft EIS) so that Cohen can make his selection.
Is it just me, or does this all seem simply ceremonial at this point? Can anyone really imagine that this monstrosity will move forward under an Obama administration? The whole war on terror, as we now know, is largely a ploy by the Bush administration to consolidate its power and enrich its groupies. Anyone who feels safer today than he or she did on September 10, 2001 is really living under the delusion that military might, applied indiscriminately, equals security. What we most certainly are today compared to then is a whole lot poorer as a nation.
Last I read, we’re something like $10 trillion in debt, are issuing checks to bank and auto dealers like it’s grand fun, and yet no one really seems to have a plan for stabilizing the economy other than some tired trickle-down shenanigans. We’ve also spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, something that has been consistently downplayed, not least in the recent election. These expenses will likely cripple our government for years to come. In that fiscal climate, coupled with the fact that someone was just elected president who is not beholden (at least not entirely) to the military industrial complex, do we seriously think that the federal government is going to drop what would likely end up being billions to build a lab of this nature, anywhere? Even if they wanted to proceed, the environmental lawsuits that will surely spring up regardless of the site selected will deter even the most convinced or co-opted government bureaucrat.
What amazes and truly disappoints me is that these financial considerations will likely be the downfall of the NBAF. That’s a comforting thought, but it remains puzzling to me why anyone thinks it’s a good idea to build such facilities in populated areas, and in the case of Manhattan, within a stone’s throw of at least three existing or planned daycare facilities. That would seem to require a margin of error of absolute zero, something even the most pro-NBAF scientists cannot claim to be a realizable goal.