House Science Chair Johnson Urges More Fusion Funding

July 2, 2021

The Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology sent a letter June 30 to The Honorable Rosa DeLauro, Chairwoman of the Committee on Appropriations urging her committee to increase funding for fusion energy research in the FY 2022 appropriations bill to levels more in line with recently passed policy legislation and with recommendations from several recent fusion policy reviews. The letter supports a broad range of Department of Energy programs that fall under the purview of their respective committees. The fusion portion of the letter reads as follow:

"Lastly, I am quite concerned that the recommendations in a comprehensive, community-driven long range plan that was recently produced by the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) and those in a recent National Academies report entitled Bringing Fusion to the U.S. Grid were not reflected in the President's budget request in a meaningful way. For many years, this Committee and others of jurisdiction have recommended that the Department and the fusion research community produce a strategic plan that identifies clear priorities under several realistic budget scenarios, similar to the successful planning processes for the high energy physics community and other research programs. The Department was also required to produce such a report following passage of the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act in 2018. So I was very pleased to see DOE and the fusion research community take this challenge on and make the tough decisions to produce a robust and achievable roadmap that would ensure U.S. leadership in this critical field over the next decade. It is therefore disappointing, and frankly perplexing, that this report from FESAC in particular appears to have had no significant impact on the subsequent budget request for fusion research from the Department. Also of note, in Section 307(d), (e), (i), and (o) of the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act and Section 972(c) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, both as amended in the Energy Act of 2020, the Department was directed to establish programs in alternative and enabling concepts; inertial fusion for energy applications; and milestone-based fusion concept development. The President's budget request ignores this statutory direction. The Energy Act of 2020 also authorized funds to fully support the U.S. role in the ITER Project, but unfortunately, the Administration's proposal is $79M below the authorized level required to keep this project on schedule and minimize its total cost. For these reasons, I strongly recommend that you provide funding levels for fusion research that are consistent with those in H.R. 3593, which builds on the enacted fusion research provisions in the Energy Act of 2020 and provides further guidance for these activities in accordance with the reports noted above.

In the face of serious and diverse economic and environmental threats, we should do what it takes to secure our position as the global economic and clean energy technology leader. A key to this leadership will be sustained, strong investments across the science and energy technology programs at DOE. Thank you for your consideration.

The full letter is posted at: