Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
In response to Congressional Report Language associated with the FY1999 budget, the Department of Energy commissioned the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) to review the Department's efforts in Fusion Energy. After an extensive, high-level review, SEAB Chairman Athy reported to the Secretary of Energy that "The task force concluded that the current funding level for fusion energy is subcritical. Funding on the order of $300M/yr will be required to support an appropriately balanced fusion energy program."
This recommendation is fully consistent with the 1995 and 1997 reviews by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The SEAB task force also concluded that "DP [DOE Defense Programs]... might appropriately take the lead in the development of high-average-power lasers" for Inertial Fusion Energy. In the context of the SEAB Report, the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee subsequently developed a detailed research plan, establishing balance and priorities across the program, and setting key assessment points at 5, 10, and 15 years, for an overall budget of $300M. The FY2000 Energy and Water Appropriations Conference Report on Fusion Energy Science said, in full, "The conferees are pleased with the highly supportive recent report on fusion energy science from the Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board and with the comprehensive scientific plan developed the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC). The FESAC plan should be used by the Department as guidance in the allocation of the resources provided for fusion energy sciences."
In light of these Reports, the fusion energy science community requests that Congress fund the DOE/SC Office of Fusion Energy Science at $275M for FY2001, as authorized by the House Science Committee, and that related laser research be funded at $25M, to be allocated between DOE/DP Office of Inertial Confinement Fusion and the DOE/SC Office of Fusion Energy Sciences as deemed appropriate by the Subcommittee.
The Administration's Proposed Budget Cuts Research Below
The FY2001 budget proposed by the Administration ($247M for OFES) is a significant positive step as measured against the Administration's FY2000 proposal ($223M However, the Administration's request for Fusion Energy Sciences includes $9M of additional funding above FY2000 levels for decommissioning and clean-up activities. While these activities are important, they decrease the dollars available for research activity. Further, the Administration request for ICF includes no funds for IFE-related laser research. Taken together, these reductions mean that, when compared with the FY2000 Appropriation, the FY2001 request would result in a sharp decrease in research activity.
Our request, therefore, comprises two parts. In the first, a most critical priority, our request is for provision of an additional $7M of funds to restore research budget cuts within OFES, which are in the range of 5 6% for affected programs both at the larger national facilities and at universities, and restoration of $10M for IFE-related laser development. At this level, however, the program would still be unable to fully utilize existing facilities, take advantage of exciting scientific opportunities through international collaboration, nor continue expanding in the areas of IFE and magnetic alternates, as recommended by external reviews.
The Fusion Community has Developed a Detailed Scientific Plan
The second part of our request is designed to extend fusion energy science research beyond the FY2000 level, in accordance with the detailed plan of the FESAC, based on a careful analysis of program priorities and balance. Within MFE some of the over-riding science issues to be addressed in the near future include:
Within IFE key issues include:
To pursue these goals, the FESAC plan made specific recommendations for increases from a base which was approximately the FY2000 distribution of funds, and this plan has been received positively by Congress. While further peer review of some specific elements will still be required, the key FESAC goals and funding balance represent a strong consensus of the fusion research community. Four key thrust areas, and associated requirements for incremental support, were identified in MFE research, with a goal of providing data for a 5-year assessment point:
Two key thrust areas, and associated requirements for incremental support, were identified for IFE research, also aimed at a 5-year assessment point:
We request the provision of $300M in total annual support in FY2001-04,. Such funding will allow the set of 5-year objectives established by the FESAC to be achieved in a timely fashion, without sacrificing the SEAB-recommended balance among elements in the program. This plan will provide the Nation with the information needed to make clear and timely decisions on the future direction of fusion energy science.