The US Congress is embracing nuclear fusion. Congress has budgeted asking for $50 million for a fusion reactor and $713 million for “fusion science.”
The Omnibus Spending Bill President Joe Biden (D-Delaware) signed on 15 March 2022 budgets $713 million for fusion science and $50 million for a fusion reactor, US Representative Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tennessee) claims. Concurrently, the Biden administration is promoting what it calls a “bold vision for commercial fusion energy.”
The bold vision includes an agency wide initiative to promote fusion at the US Department of Energy (DOE). In particular, US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm will appoint a DOE Lead Fusion Coordinator to lead America’s federal fusion effort. In other words, the Coordinator will try to spend the money Congress is appropriating for fusion.
More Money for Fusion
Under the initiative, the Department of Energy will enter Public-Private Partnerships (PPPS) to develop and commercialize fusion technology, a White House press release claims. The release did not name any fusion companies the DOE will partner with.
However, the White House claims over two-thirds of the world’s companies are US-based. My guess is that the DOE will share its fusion research with private companies through the PPPs.
In addition, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will distribute more money to fusion projects. ARPA-E is the DOE’s versions of the Department of Defense’s DARPA. Hence, ARPA-E finances next generation energy projects, just as DARPA develops the weapons of the future.
White House Fusion Summit
To take advantage of fusion’s growing popularity. The Biden Administration held a “White House Fusion Summit” on 17 March 2022.
Unfortunately, neither President Biden nor Vice President Kamala Harris (D-California) attended the summit. Hence, I think the Biden Administration is trying to take credit for Congress’s fusion actions. Note America’s Constitution gives Congress not the president the power to write the budget. All the president can do is ask for money and spend it if Congress appropriates funds.
However, Fusion Industry Association (FIA) CEO Andrew Holland did attend. Holland claims private companies could commercialize fusion in the 2030s. Instead, US Representative Don Beyer (D-Virginia) spoke.
“Cynics have suggested that over the decades we’ve spent just enough on fusion that it never happens,” Beyer said. “We want this Administration to be able to change that.”
Congress needs to Spend More on Fusion
I think Congress could budget far money for fusion. Yes, $763 million sounds big, but Congress has far more money to spend. For example, Congress spent $13.3 billion on the USS Gerald R. Ford.
The Ford is a giant aircraft carrier that could spend the next war tied to a dock in San Diego. To explain, I consider The Ford a giant floating target for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy rather than a weapons system.
I believe Congress needs to spend $100 billion on fusion because of the climate crisis. I think climate change is the greatest threat to America’s national security and needs to be treated as such. Fusion is a potential solution to climate change, America needs to pursue.