Archive for Monday, February 13, 2012

White House’s 2013 budget includes no new money for Kansas bio-security lab

February 13, 2012, 12:44 p.m. Updated February 14, 2012, 12:50 a.m.


— Kansas officials were stunned and upset Monday to learn that President Barack Obama recommended no additional funding for construction of a new biosecurity lab, jeopardizing a high-visibility project that the state had seen as a powerful engine of economic growth.

The spending plan from Obama also said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will reassess the viability of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility planned for Manhattan, near Kansas State University. The project would cost an estimated $650 million and would replace an aging facility at Plum Island, N.Y.

Workers have already cleared the Kansas site, and the state has committed itself to authorizing up to $105 million in bonds to help with the project. State officials envisioned the lab, which would research foot-and-mouth and other dangerous animal diseases, as a key part of an emerging biosciences industry.

Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas’ congressional delegation — all Republicans — issued a statement saying further review of merits of the facility is needless and “a waste of taxpayer dollars.” The officials promised to work to overcome the recommendation from Obama, a Democrat, and said doing so will protect the security of the nation’s food supply.

“This change of direction is unacceptable and will leave our country vulnerable,” the statement said. “Kansas has won every competition, met every standard and proven its commitment to this project, and we’ll do whatever it takes to fulfill this critical national security need.”

Federal pressures

Congress appropriated only $50 million of the $150 million the Obama administration requested for the lab in the current budget year, which the White House said was insufficient to begin construction.

“In light of this, the Administration will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the project in 2012, which will consider the cost, safety and any alternatives to the current plan that would reduce costs and ensure safety,” the budget document unveiled Monday states.

Obama is asking the Department of Homeland Security to re-evaluate the project, while spending $10 million to increase the amount of research being done at Kansas State’s Biosecurity Research Institute. Brownback and state’s congressional delegation took that decision as a vote of confidence in Kansas State’s researchers to do the work.

The budget plan also calls for developing a public outreach program to notify surrounding residents and livestock producers about the additional research and safety measures in place to protect humans and animals.

But the proposal still is a major blow to Kansas, which expected the new lab to have more than 300 jobs paying an average of more than $75,000 a year in salary and benefits.

“Hopefully this not the final answer,” said Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis, a Lawrence Democrat and member of the governor’s NBAF task force. “Given the constraints that the federal government is now operating under, projects like NBAF are going to be in a real uphill battle. The need for NBAF hasn’t changed at all.”

Officials had hoped to have the facility operating by 2018. But U.S. Rep. Timothy Bishop, a Democrat who represents the Plum Island site and Long Island, had asked the federal Office of Management and Budget not to recommend funding for it.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer said the federal government should continue investing in research at Plum Island, and fellow New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said its sale should be delayed because it remains a “critical national asset.” Both, like Bishop, are Democrats.

“I will be stunned if the Kansas delegation does not try to resurrect this issue,” Bishop told The Associated Press in an interview.

He added about Plum Island, “It is a good facility that is not obsolete and does not need to be replaced.”

Members of Kansas’ congressional delegation and Brownback have previously expressed confidence that the project would be fully funded, despite opposition from some concerned about the lab’s safety, including Bishop and other members of Congress.

New study

A National Academy of Science study on the feasibility of placing the lab in the nation’s heartland identified a 70 percent chance that a release of foot-and-mouth disease could occur at the new facility during its projected 50-year lifespan. Damages to the livestock industry could total as much as $50 billion if a release were to occur, officials have said.

The academy is again studying the feasibility of placing the facility in Kansas. A final report is due this summer.

At a field hearing last month in Manhattan, critics of NBAF argued that the risks associated with studying foot-and-mouth disease and other deadly pathogens outweighed any economic benefit to the region. They urged Homeland Security and others to stop work on the project and leave the research on Plum Island.

“No one has done anything on this scale, which introduces a lot of variables,” said Sylvia Beeman, a Manhattan resident and spokeswoman for the anti-NBAF group Biosecurity in the Heartland. “There are mechanical failures all the time and human failures all the time.”

But Beeman said she is saddened that Manhattan will not be getting an economic boost. She said she and other critics worry about becoming “pariahs” in the community.

“I hope that Manhattan and the university can find some other worthy thing to put their intellect into,” she said. “The community has banked on this.”

— Associated Press writers John Hanna in Topeka and Frank Eltman in Long Island, N.Y., contributed to this report.


deec 6 years, 4 months ago

Wouldn't it be cheaper to fix the old facility?

Joe Blackford II 6 years, 4 months ago

$10 million into KSU's rat hole?

The BRI, aka Pat Roberts Hall, is an annual drain of $1 million on KSU's general budget.

Midwest Research Institute's VP, Col/Dr David R Franz, sits on the DHS' Science & Technology Advisory Committee which declared Plum Island "an aging facility" that must be replaced.

Frederick Office and Center for Biological Safety and Security (CBS2) 110 Thomas Johnson Drive, Suite 170 Frederick, Maryland 21702-4418

"The nation’s largest collection of credentialed Biosafety Professionals (RBP and/or CBSP) including internationally renowned biosafety and biosecurity specialists with certifications in Biological Safety, Security, Public Health and Industrial Hygiene, as well as M.D., Ph.D., and D.V.M. degrees."

Have to wonder who "credentialed" Franz' drones?

MRI has only 8 employees in KS, at KSU's NISTAC (where Wefald, Krause & Glasscock skimmed $ off the sale of NutriJoy to CocaCola):

Midwest Research Institute—Kansas, LLC 2005 Research Park Circle Manhattan, Kansas 66502-5020

The audit of the Kansas Bioscience Authority showed a contract to MRI for "NBAF GOCO Strategy." The strategy if for MRI to operate the NBAF for DHS; a sure thing, since Franz will advise DHS to run the NBAF as a Government Owned, Contractor Operated facility.

"Midwest Research Institute Midwest Research Institute (“MRI”) was hired by KBA for NBAF policy making, grants and other strategies. The contracts were signed by Jeff Shular. The initial contract was effective March 11, 2009 and was for $40,000. On April 8, 2009, KBA contracted with MRI for “Task Order No. 2” for a total of $200,000 for “NBAF GOCO Strategy.” On April 14, 2009, an additional contract, “Task Order No. 3,” for biosecurity research institute compliance acceleration support was effective for $200,000. We did not observe an RFP in the corporate file for these contracts. These finding are included in Exhibit 53 - Contract Exhibit B- RFP Findings."

The BRI is a shell. Ask KSU for a list of where their BRI contracts came from (US taxpayers).

blindrabbit 6 years, 4 months ago

We need jobs in Kansas but not of "The bridge to nowhere" variety that this lab would create! The facility at Plum Island needs upgrade, but the real advantage is it's isolation. The prevaling weather is offshore into the open Atlantic rather than over populated areas of Kansas and into agricultural areas that could be devastated by even a minor release of the pathogens that the lab will be working with! Let Manhattan build a "CatBacker Zero Gravity Generator" to levitate the K-Staters to higher basketball rankings instead!

blindrabbit 6 years, 4 months ago

Obama should not worry about a "Kansas backlash" due to not funding the Lab. We Kansans have proven that we will accept anything the Repubs. throw our way, and reject any rationale concept Dems., and especially the Obama Administration champion. Think Bio-Lab, Keystone Pipeline and Holcomb Coal Burner. Koch-a-kola money at work!

Steve Bunch 6 years, 4 months ago

So I guess Hanibal Lecter will be staying at Plum Island. I'd hoped he'd be moving to Manhattan.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 4 months ago

Guess they couldn't meet the pay-to-play fee.

Michael LoBurgio 6 years, 4 months ago

rockchalk1977 paul ryan wants to end medicare social security and medicare and like all gop koch puppet he opens his mouth, out comes a lie.

District by District Impact of Republican Medicare Plan and Medicaid Cuts

Michael LoBurgio 6 years, 4 months ago

rockchalk1977 Ten Facts About The Obama Budget 1. The budget includes $350 billion in short-term measures to encourage job growth, including $50 billion in immediate infrastructure investment, $30 billion to rebuild schools, and year-long extensions of the payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance.

  1. The implementation of the Buffett Rule and the repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy helps reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.

  2. For every $1 in new revenue from those making more than $250,000 per year and from closing corporate loopholes, the budget has $2.50 in spending cuts including the deficit reduction enacted over the last year.

  3. The total budget reduces the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade.

  4. Obama preserves the maximum Pell Grant award, a key difference from the GOP budget, and makes permanent then Americans Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps 9 million families afford the costs of college.

  5. Unlike the last two GOP budgets, Obama’s budget protects Medicare and Medicaid from structural changes, and through small tweaks, saves $360 billion from those programs.

  6. States will receive $30 billion in aid to prevent further layoffs of firefighters, teachers, and police officers, some of the hardest-hit workforces in the nation.

  7. The budget eliminates 12 tax breaks to oil, gas, and coal companies, saving $41 billion over 10 years.

Armstrong 6 years, 4 months ago

Umm Blue that's 8 facts ( full of holes ) not 10 besides - 1) Already failed stimulus 1 and 2 2) That's an if not a fact 3) when did 250/K define anyone as rich 4) tax and spend is not a reduction 5) specifically which grant 6) Aunt Nancy " we have to read it to see what's in it" 7) name the last time you saw a firefighter or cop laid off 8) estimates ? 12 tax breaks - smoke and mirrors baby

gccs14r 6 years, 4 months ago

3) when did 250/K define anyone as rich

Per year? That's a hell of a lot of money for one person to earn.

Mike1949 6 years, 4 months ago

smoke and mirrors baby; excuse me, lets set the records straight. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are experts at using smoke & mirrors. The Bush administration learned from Reagan how to do it extremely well!

blindrabbit 6 years, 4 months ago

Jayhawk1977, back to the subject of the story! If the Kansas Republican delegation (Roberts, Tiahrt, Moran, Brownback) would have spent more time enticing Boeing to stay in Wichita and less time on this Don Quixote (ish) chasing of toxic windmills along with the Kansas BioSciences Authority and it's corrupt chairman the State would not have had to deal with this. I'll bet that other agricultural based states (other than Texas) are leery of this "Manna from Heaven".

TinmanKC 6 years, 4 months ago

How about selling Biohazard license plates like Brownback wants to fund the arts. Haha. Why would these republicans want this in Kansas anyway? It's government jobs. And we all know the Republican mantra: "Government doesn't create jobs. Government doesn't create jobs...."

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

there is an effort to stop the project based on concern over toxic waste and potential toxic leaks into the atmosphere..... so i read.

How about some clean industries for a change.... cancer is sooooooo expensive and forces so many of the working and insured into bankruptcy.

face it like the SLT it is big time pork barrel

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 4 months ago

So, who's proud of the Governor who has lost Boeing and NBAF under his watch?

I know I am!

So many excuses, so few jobs.

globehead 6 years, 4 months ago

This is remarkable. First, we lose Boeing. Now we lose the bio-lab. This all happens on the watch of a career politician governor who has spent the last two presidential elections trying to convince folks that his experience makes him presidential caliber.

Consider that he sees himself as a factor in the Republican Party and conservative movement, he consistently rails against federal spending and the Obama administration. But, when time comes for cost savings and a Kansas project gets chopped, the anti-federal spending argument goes out the window and he rails against the administration whose other policies he has done everything possible to thwart.

Odd, but in the days of old-time insider politics if a member of one party did something for a member of another, the favor would often be returned. This system no longer appeals to us so Mr. Brownback has absolutely no cards to play in this matter. His selfish and continual embracement of partisan politics at the expense of Kansas citizens has cost Kansas two major employers and countless dollars. We elected Mr. Brownback as governor and are getting exactly what we earned. Ineffectual leadership.

globehead 6 years, 4 months ago

I don't think I could have said it any better myself. Wait a minute! I am myself...

1egg2fry 6 years, 4 months ago

Brownback caves into his right wing-nuts and snubs Obama initiative grant to develop health plan market in Kansas. Less than two years later Obama shafts Brownback on Bio/Agro facility in Manhattan. Better yet, he hides behind Republican initiated budget cuts. Republicans continue to misjudge Obama. He is a shrewd politician, not some naïve Jimmy Carter. Paybacks are hell. Kansas suffers significant job loss and Democratic Plum Island NY reaps the benefits. Brownback again proves he is a jerk.

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