Within the Senate markup of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill on June 27, Senator Mary K. Landrieu of Louisiana and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee spoke highly of fusion energy research. Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed support for fusion when marking up the bill, which allocates $458 million for fusion energy sciences.
During the markup, Senator Landrieu praised the ITER project, stating,
“The ITER Project is a major investment in some very cutting edge and promising technology in the field of energy; it is not capturing the energy of the sun, it’s actually creating the energy of the sun on the earth. It’s very exciting and it is underway in various parts of the world.”
While the bill appropriates $183.5 million as the U.S. contribution to ITER, no funding will be available until the committee receives a cost schedule and scope estimate in response to the poor management and failures to meet technical milestones by the project. When discussing ITER, Senator Alexander stated,
“I’m working with Senator Feinstein on ITER about getting these big NNSA projects under control. These are multi-billion dollar projects; we can save money there and we can make progress in other areas. We all hope that [fusion] succeeds because it will provide an inexhaustible source of cheap clean energy that would revolutionize the world.”
Fusion energy may be several years from plugging into the grid, but it promises clean, safe, secure, and abundant energy. The U.S. relies on several energy sources to fuel its economy, but many of these sources contribute to climate change and threaten our national security. Similarly, U.S. dependency on fossil fuels weakens the economy and constricts foreign policy. Through fusion energy, the U.S. will break free of the confines created by a fossil fuel dependent world.
Amidst rampant budget cuts throughout all areas of the government, it is great to see several Senators like Alexander, Landrieu and Feinstein defending fusion energy’s role as a critical national interest. As we move through sequestration, it is essential to keep long-term goals in sight despite short-term budget constrictions.
To read more on fusion and ASP’s 10-year plan to energy security, click here.