Archive for Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Officials vow to fight for NBAF funding

May 29, 2012


U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., spoke Tuesday in the Statehouse after a meeting of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility steering committee.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., spoke Tuesday in the Statehouse after a meeting of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility steering committee.

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility site in Manhattan.

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility site in Manhattan.

— A bipartisan effort led to Kansas winning a state-of-the-art federal research lab, but the project is running into opposition in Washington, D.C., officials said Tuesday.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, didn’t put funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in his proposed budget, and Republican leaders in Congress have been calling for significant cuts in federal spending.

That has placed the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, in the crosshairs and the Kansas congressional delegation — all Republicans — in an all-hands-on-deck mode.

“Everything that was rolling down the track in Washington is now subject to the environment that we face … in regards to spending money we don’t have and the deficit and the debt and our efforts to reduce spending,” said U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

But Roberts, and fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., and Gov. Sam Brownback said the need for NBAF to protect the world’s food supply from contagious animal diseases transcends federal budget problems.

“This is an investment in national security,” Roberts said. “This is a top priority for the nation and the world," said Brownback.

Their comments came during a meeting of the NBAF steering committee.

Three years ago, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security selected Manhattan, Kan., as the future home of NBAF.

Because Obama did not include money for the project in his latest budget proposal, “this has been a heavier lift than usual,” Jenkins said.

The House Appropriations Committee has recommended $75 million in funding this year, and Roberts said he hoped that by the time negotiations in Congress are complete that NBAF could get $50 million.

Another issue is release of $90 million for the project that has been approved in previous years but is being held by Homeland Security, Roberts and Jenkins said.

Roberts said Homeland Security was holding the money because it fears Congress will cut another part of the agency’s budget that focuses on science and technology. Roberts said the two funding issues should not be related.

Jenkins said the appropriations bill proposes withholding $20 million from Homeland Security until the previous NBAF funding is released by the agency.

“We just felt there was a need to kick-start this process and get this ball rolling, and the only way to do that was to hold their feet to the fire,” she said.

Another hurdle includes efforts by officials in New York to have Homeland Security renovate a lab on Plum Island to do the research.

“We anticipate a floor fight,” Jenkins said of attempts to refurbish the Plum Island facility. “We will be prepared.”

Roberts said the Plum Island lab is “completely degraded.”

NBAF has been projected to cost $650 million, although Roberts said he has heard from Homeland Security officials that the price could double because of delays and inflation.

The lab is scheduled to be operating by 2020, working on research on Foot and Mouth Disease, African Swine Fever, Rift Valley Fever and other diseases.

An economic analysis says the lab will have a total impact of $2.4 billion over 25 years, employ hundreds of people, both directly and indirectly, and lead to a boon of bioscience companies.

But aside from the benefit to Kansas, officials argued the project is crucial to protect the world food supply from unintentional or intentional outbreaks of animal diseases.

Patrick Splichal, vice president of Merriam-based SES Inc., an agricultural security firm, said the high-level research lab would help develop countermeasures to outbreaks.

“Without building a replacement for Plum Island, the U.S. will lose this capacity, resulting in slower disease detection, containment and less effective response, significantly increasing the economic costs of an outbreak,” Splichal said.


Larrytown 5 years, 9 months ago

Interesting that Senator Roberts decided to use the word "investment" rather than "spending." I wonder why that is? Hmmmm.....

Ragingbear 5 years, 9 months ago

I love the picture, but the caption is wrong. It should read "Dictator Brownback meets with 2 of his cronies in an illegal meeting after a "public" meeting.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 9 months ago

Would love to see this project wither on the vine than have federal money "invested" in Brownbackistan. Weap what you sow, Brownie.

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

Remember, kids. It's ok to suckle at the government teat when it doesn't help disabled people or school children.

dinglesmith 5 years, 9 months ago

Would this be as important to national security as judged by the Kansas delegation if it were in Nebraska? One wonders...

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 9 months ago

The GOP strategy of tax cuts and military spending increases have led to deficits, which are now interfering with projects like NBAF.

The three politicians pictured here have done as much as anyone to push for tax cuts, and lately, spending cuts.

NBAF is spending, Ms. Jenkins and Mr. Roberts and Brownback. In the current climate you three have helped create, all spending is targeted.

Be careful what you wish for.

Also, the GOP have opposed Obama on everything and have spurned bipartisanship and created a hostile, hateful environment in congress against the president.

Why would Obama fight to save NBAF, a state represented by the most right-wing and anti-Obama politicans in the country.

One reaps what one sows. It is too bad that Kansas has had such extremist, right win representation.

cowboy 5 years, 9 months ago

nightmare said it all , well done ,spot on

Incredible 5 years, 9 months ago

Seems to me that if they were going to do it, bio-terrorists would have compromised our food supply by now. why would they wait until this facility is built so we can study ways to prevent them from doing just that? It's just as likely that we'll create our own crisis with an unintended (or intended) release of a pathogen which will result in serious unintended consequences. Quite simply, this is the result of hype created as a result of 9/11. Nothing has happened since then that warrants spending money to build this facility. Roberts (and others) just can't admit they were suckered by the industries that stand to benefit into believing there was a need for this facility -- veterinary pharmaceutical companies, defense contractors, engineers, etc. Corporations benefit, local residents, farmers, and ranchers will not.

BringBackMark 5 years, 9 months ago

What a chuckle....Pat Roberts wants to invest in national security.....The same Pat Roberts that stood next to George W. declaring that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction even though U.N. inspectors found no evidence of them. That cost us approximately $1 trillion. Now the boogie man is going after our food supplies. So Obviously we'd better spend a bunch more and put a "research" facility, in the center of the agricultural community. More intelligent people than Pat Roberts have cautioned that even a slight mishap at this facilitty will jeopardize the very food supply we're claiming to protect.

Time to throw a net over 'ol Pat and get him out of Washington. We can't afford his brand of protection. Really, who keeps voting for him?

Shane Garrett 5 years, 9 months ago

Never miss an opportunity in a crisis. What are we going to do with that nice fence, leveled grown and plumbing? Besides, KSU was to get a new grain elevator out of the deal. Milling science leads to better beer. You should see all the developments that are in progress at KSU. People are working. Which makes them healthier and happier. Besides there is more research going on at KSU then anyone realizes. And with just a key pad locked door. In my opinion NBAF is 1000% more secure then any of the other locked doors that keep us from being exposed to....

Joe Blackford II 5 years, 9 months ago

NBAF = "dual use research," research which could be used for nefarious purposes just as easily as for beneficial.

Two of the scientists on the NIH's "Federal advisory committee chartered to provide advice, guidance, and leadership regarding biosecurity oversight of dual use research to all Federal departments and agencies with an interest in life sciences research. The NSABB advises on and recommends specific strategies for the efficient and effective oversight of federally conducted or supported dual use biological research, taking into consideration national security concerns and the needs of the research community."

1 - Col. (Ret) David R. Franz, former commander of USAMRIID, the lab where the Anthrax Mailer worked for 19 years.

2 - Dr. Paul Keim, NAU, whose team pinned the strain of Anthrax on Franz' lab (at a very high cost in $ for the FBI).

Franz' other claims to NBAF Fame:

A KSU alum, he was appointed by Sebelius to the bring the NBAF to KS committee.

Sits on the DHS Science & Technology Advisory Committee which declared Plum Island antiquated AND selected KSU for the NBAF.

VP of Midwest Research Institute, KC, MO, which runs a lab for USAMRIID. MRI's Center for Biological Safety and Security has world-class talent in advising governments on BSL-3 & BSL-4 research.

Franz is a charter member of the Kansas Bioscience Authority, which has spent ~ $450K on 3 contracts with MRI. $200K for a Strategy for NBAF as a Government - Owned, Contractor Operated lab. Look for MRI to get that contract!

MRI has an office at KSU's NISTAC (8 employees who actually work in KS). NISTAC is where Wefald, AD Krause & Glasscock skimmed $ off the top on the sale of NutriJoy to Coca Cola.

Google: "NBAF" "Franz" "Jaax" & do a little research on the fine bioweapons defense folks who will line their pockets with NBAF slop. Even a secured trough is subject to "dual use research" scenarios.

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