Last Wednesday the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing on NNSA’s FY 2012 budget request.
The hearing prompted a very interesting and lively exchange between Subcommittee Chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the team of NNSA Administrator Tom D’Agostino and NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Don Cook on plutonium pit aging and production. Jeffrey Lewis has a short write up about the discussion of pit corrosion over at Armscontrolwonk.
Of particular interest to me was NNSA’s rationale for why they need to produce new pits, Feinstein’s frustration with this explanation and NNSA’s unwillingness to tell her how many pits they plan to produce, and Feinstein’s general awesomeness. Re: Feinstein’s awesomeness, below are my three favorite quotes from her from the hearing:
1. “I mean, it’s one of the reasons why I’m sitting right here, why I run for this office because I want my grandchildren and their children to grow up in a nuclear-free world. And I’m going to do everything I can to be helpful to get there.
So this is not something that I’m just going to fluff off and forget about.”
2. “And it’s fair to say that you guys wanted to develop new nuclear weapons. That’s what RRW essentially did. It was killed because of it. And I don’t want to see, you know, RRW in Mufti right now.”
3. (to D’Agostino) “I don’t want you to do it off the top of your head. As much as I think you’re terrific, I really — this is a big thing for me.”