WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a legislative hearing on H.R. 1208, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act bipartisan legislation by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04), Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03), and Congressman Ben Lujan (NM-03) that would establish a Manhattan Project National Historical Park and include facilities in Hanford, Washington, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Los Alamos, New Mexico.

The Manhattan Project was a top secret program during World War II to produce an atomic bomb, which played an integral part in ending World War II. This legislation would preserve these historic sites as national parks and ensure public access for future generations.

The Representatives and Senators of both parties who are working together on this legislation are very committed to advancing this historical park into law "though even our passion for establishing the park is exceeded by that of the volunteers and local leaders in the three Manhattan Project communities and others across the nation. We were fortunate to have a representative from each of the three communities testify at last year’s hearing, and we are fortunate to have similar representation today, said Chairman Hastings. There are many historical, economic and tourism development organizations in each of the communities that have helped lead the way in preserving this piece of our nation’s history. They are doing a tremendous job communicating the important role this park can play in telling the story of efforts during the Second World War to accomplish an unprecedented, and many thought, impossible, industrial and scientific achievement" to construct a nuclear weapon and counter threats of similar development by Nazi Germany.

Witnesses at today’s hearing, including local community leaders and the National Park Service, all spoke in favor of the bill.

The establishment of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park is supported by the Department of the Interior, Department of Energy, and the National Park Service. Victor Knox, Associate Director for Park Planning, Facilities and Lands, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior agreed that this legislation should move forward especially noting the importance of the Manhattan Project. The development of the atomic bomb through the Manhattan Project was one of the most transformative events in our nation’s history. If this legislation is enacted, we look forward to building a stronger partnership that will enable us to meet the challenges ahead.

Steve Young, Mayor of the City of Kennewick, Washington noted positive economic impacts of this project. The Manhattan Project National Historical Park will create jobs and provide an economic development benefit for all three communities. Young also noted that the Manhattan Project National Park is an important way to honor America’s veterans saying, We have unanimity with our sister communities in Oak Ridge and Los Alamos that the Park should be established in the near term in order to honor our Manhattan Project and Cold War veterans.

Fran Berting, County Councilor for the Incorporated County of Los Alamos, offered broad support for this important project saying, The Park has tremendous support in our community. We are heartened to see the Department of Energy willing to work with the Department of Interior and other partners to make this world-changing history accessible. Berting also noted the positive job and economic impacts of this legislation, The region will need workers not only in tourism and service industries but in construction and other related industries to support the Park. We believe it will have economic benefit to northern New Mexico.

Tom Beehan, the Mayor of the City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Chairman of the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA), agreed that the establishment of this new national park is important to honor those who made such an important impact on world history. I would like to stress that all three of our communities are united in our support for the passage of this bill. We should work to open this park while some of the Manhattan Project Veterans are still alive and able to see their work recognized by our nation.