The Senate should take a closer look at the Kyl-Domenici plan for reorganizing nuclear weapons work within the Department of Energy ["Richardson Accepts Nuclear Agency Plan," news story, July 8]. The proposed Agency for Nuclear Stewardship would do nothing to address and reform the "culture of arrogance" that former senator Warren Rudman's report found in DOE's nuclear complex. It would, however, create new layers of nuclear bureaucracy, while reducing scrutiny and oversight.

The legislation would grant the new agency unique authority to bypass the standard budget process and send its spending wish list straight to Congress, unedited by the secretary of energy or the Office of Management and Budget -- something every agency head in government would love to do. This means that the nuclear agency's power and authority would grow dramatically as it evaded the usual procedures and controls of government.

The legislation would also reduce the ability of DOE's Office of Environment, Safety and Health to protect the health of nuclear workers and ensure compliance with fundamental health and safety standards. It also would split up DOE's program of cleaning up nuclear wastes at weapons complex sites, resulting in organizational tangles and thus in slower and more expensive cleanup.

The best way to address mismanagement and disarray at the nuclear weapons labs is through more oversight, not less. The Senate should not rush to embrace this deeply flawed plan.


Director of Security Programs

Physicians for Social Responsibility