INL could face bleak future with fiscal cliff budget cuts

POSTED: 06:27 PM MST Dec 21, 2012    UPDATED: 06:44 PM MST Dec 21, 2012 

The announcement of workforce restructuring of 450 employees at the Idaho National Laboratory this week has many people concerned of how the looming fiscal cliff could affect eastern Idaho's largest employer.

One of the key issues involves the potential of across-the-board reduction in federal spending, known as sequestration, which was put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Under the current law, these reductions are scheduled to take place Jan. 2nd.

The Idaho National Laboratory is a key economic driver of eastern Idaho. The Partnership for Science and Technology wants to make sure it's still on the map for Washington lawmakers even with potential budget cuts.

"Any regress of work at the laboratory will affect every business in our community," said Lane Algood with the Partnership for Science and Technology.

Idaho Falls Mayor Jared Fuhriman also agreed it's critical to have public support for research.

"This is our roots, and it's very important that we gather together and support decisions and opportunities to come to this region," said Fuhriman.
Although sequestration is not final, Algood said the outlook could be bleak- scaling back on current projects, not supporting new research, and continuing with even more layoffs.

"Sequestration, I don't even want to think about it, because it could have a very negative effect on it and I'm putting all my faith on our elected officials and get together and work together on it," said Algood.

The Partnership for Science and Technology will be drafting a letter to Gov. Butch Otter and is urging the public to file comments on the line commission report to highlight the most important recommendations.

"This has been a public process all along, and when we have the opportunity to affect the decisions, we need to not ignore it," said Algood.

"All we're looking is hopefully Washington and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will remember us, and we're poised and ready to go, and I think this is our future," said Fuhriman.

The deadline to file public comments is Jan. 4th.