Sen. Jerry Moran told Manhattan Rotary Club members Thursday afternoon he’s confident the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) will be built.
Moran, who moved to Manhattan a year ago and has an office here, was the featured speaker for the club’s meeting at the Holiday Inn at the Campus.
“Is it going to be built?” Moran asked. “The answer is clearly ‘yes.’ I thought that all along. It was just a matter of how long it would take us to get through the appropriations process.”
Moran did caution his audience about the complexities of the timetable for construction to start, and said he recently spoke with Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson concerning that timetable.
“The Secretary of Homeland Security and I had a conversation last week. The thing I’m trying to get them to commit to is not waiting until the final appropriation to enter into the contract — so the construction can begin on time,” Moran said.
“The intended date of construction commencing is this May, and that’s not very far away.
“We’re worried that the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Homeland Security are taking a position that they are not going to enter into construction contracts until the final appropriation is completed.
“Our point is that the longer you delay, the more it will cost and that you’ll be back asking us for more money to complete the project – something that none of us want to go through.”
Construction has already begun on the power plant for the facility, funded mostly through the state.
Last month, President Barack Obama released a FY 2015 budget proposal that contained the final $300 million needed for NBAF.
Jon Tester, a senator from Montana, was someone Moran said was his “nemesis” on NBAF, and that Tester feels it shouldn’t even be built in the contiguous United States.
But even Tester sees the writing on the wall, Moran said.
“During last week’s hearing he waved his white flag and said, ‘It’s done. I’m done fighting. It’s going to be built. I hope the concerns I raised aren’t going to come to fruition,’ ” Moran said.