On Monday evening, January 13, Congressional Appropriators announced an agreement on the fiscal year 2014 consolidated appropriations bill. Passage of this bill will fund the government through Sept. 30, 2014.This bipartisan agreement was based on the $1.012 trillion Ryan-Murray budget agreement, agreed upon in December.
While there is a great deal to like about Members of Congress coming together to fund the government, there is one particular budget item that ASP sees as important to funding America’s long-term energy and national security: funding for research into fusion energy.
The agreement (Energy and Water Appropriations is here) includes $305,677,000 for the domestic fusion program, with an additional $200,000,000 slated for the U.S. contribution to the ITER project, for a total funding of $505,677,000 for fusion. Importantly, this budget will allow important research to continue at all the major research labs currently operating, including MIT’s Alcator C-mod, which had been threatened with closure by the Department of Energy.
BGen Stephen A. Cheney USMC (Ret.) , ASP’s CEO released the following statement regarding the increase in the Department of Energy’s Fusion Energy Sciences Budget:
Fusion energy will be a critical source of next generation energy that would provide secure, safe and sustainable energy for the U.S. This budget is a step in the right direction for fusion because it provides funding for all 3 experimental magnetic fusion reactors (tokamaks) in the U.S. as well as the U.S. contribution to the international ITER project. ASP believes that investing in research into fusion energy is a critical test of how Congress is planning for the long term.
As George Will wrote in a December, 2013 column: “Given the societal will, commercially feasible production of fusion energy is possible in the lifetime of most people now living.” Will went on to cite ASP’s work in saying “to bring about a working fusion reactor in 20 years would cost $30 billion — approximately the cost of one week of U.S. energy consumption.”
Members of Congress and the Department of Energy must now work on a long-term vision for sustained research into how to make fusion a viable energy source. ASP’s report “Fusion Power – A 10 Year Plan to Energy Security” provides an aggressive timeline for research and development. ASP’s staff and Fellows stand by as a resource for policymakers.
This is the culmination of a fight which ASP has been involved in for almost two years. In February, 2012, with the release of the President’s FY2013 budget, Cheney had said that we were “shocked and appalled” by the proposed budget for fusion, which had proposed a budget of $398 million for fusion. With the increase included in this budget, the American fusion energy research program can put itself on more stable footing. ASP applauds Members of Congress for reaching this deal and urges passage of the legislation.