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Hoyer and Auerbach Clash on Military Facilities Expansion

Greenbelt resident and Green Party nominee Bob Auerbach said no to a military ribbon-cutting celebration Thursday, Rep. Steny Hoyer, Democrat and incumbent, went.

Hoyer and Auerbach Clash on Military Facilities Expansion


Ninety-two-year-old Greenbelt, MD, resident and Green Party nominee for Congress Bob Auerbach says he turned down an invitation to the Naval Surface Warfare Center's ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, calling "energetics" a euphemism for military weapons development.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the incumbent in Maryland's 5th District, attended the ceremony.

The center is celebrating the opening of its new energetics systems and technology lab building. But Auerbach, a lifelong peace advocate, sees no cause for rejoicing. Energetics is not a term that he embraces.

“The word ‘energetics’ is a euphemism for military weapons development,” said Auerbach. The warfare center's website provides its own description, stating, “'Energetic systems' refers to explosives, propellants, pyrotechnics and their immediately related components."

The ribbon-cutting was not an expansion of weapons in Maryland, though, but a consolidation of energy inefficient buildings, according to Press Secretary Mariel Saez, speaking on Hoyer's behalf.

Unlike Auerbach, Hoyer feels grateful for the work that will be accomplished in the new facility. "I’d like to thank the men and women who will occupy this space for the work they do to develop, test, and manufacture the newest generation of energetics systems for our military," Hoyer said on his congressional website.

Auerbach's complaint also encompasses the country's  trillions of dollars of debt from recent wars — a point he did not fail to mention when he sent in his no-R.S.V.P. to the warfare center. He added that spending even more billions on weapons, while heralding them as an economic boost, would be a mistake.

Hoyer does not equivocate in his support of funding for the energetics systems and technology lab complex. He said, "I will continue to work with Indian Head, the Department of Defense, and other officials to ensure this critical military installation has the funding and resources to carry out their mission.”

Ideas like disarmament are the motivation behind Auerbach's bid for Maryland's 5th District seat in the U.S. House. From the start, though, he took a pragmatic view about his chances for being elected.

"I'm pretty sure I'm not going to win in the election," Auerbach said in a September interview. "But the issues I'm campaigning for—they will win."

Auerbach was an early activist for racial equality, picking up its banner in the 1930s. Encouraged by big reductions in discrimination since then, he expects an eventual triumph for the peace and disarmament issues that he advocates.

In the congressional race with Hoyer and Auerbach are Republican Anthony O' Donnell and Libertarian Arvin Vohra.

Hoyer has taken actions that exemplify the military weapons facilities expansion going on in Maryland's 5th District, according to Auerbach.

He points to Hoyer's attending a groundbreaking ceremony for new "drone" facilities at the Webster Field Annex of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in August for backup. He also said Hoyer was a featured V.I.P. in February at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a costly energetics laboratory to develop warheads and related weapons systems. 

“Spending money on new weapons will not make people safer. Munitions production brings neither peace nor security," Auerbach said.

Hoyer doesn't see the new complex in the same light. He views it as bringing together engineers, scientists, and others into a new LEED Silver certified facility, according to Saez.

"The building will house engineering lab space, inert work space, office space and a secure area for 100 employees," Hoyer said. "These workspaces were previously spread out among 10 buildings, which were deteriorating in condition and insufficient in size and configuration." They were also not American's with Disabilities Act compliant, he added.

Auerbach, a retired librarian, prefers to focus resources on training in non-violent methods and thinks the country should have a Department of Peace.

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