H.R. 4564 (103rd): Fusion Energy Research Accountability Act of 1994

103rd Congress, 1993–1994. Text as of Jun 10, 1994 (Introduced).

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HR 4564 IH

103d CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4564

To reorient the Department of Energy’s fusion energy research program toward development of commercially viable fusion power systems, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 10, 1994

Mr. SWETT introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology


A BILL

To reorient the Department of Energy’s fusion energy research program toward development of commercially viable fusion power systems, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Fusion Energy Research Accountability Act of 1994’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The Congress finds that--

      (1) the Federal fusion research program represents an important national investment;

      (2) over the last 40 years, United States taxpayers have paid almost $10,000,000,000 for research on fusion energy;

      (3) fusion energy has the potential to be a safe, secure, and affordable source of energy for thousands of years;

      (4) the Department of Energy’s fusion energy program, which is focused almost exclusively on the deuterium-tritium fuel cycle and the tokamak concept for plasma confinement, has demonstrated the scientific feasibility of fusion;

      (5) recent studies from Department of Energy laboratories, recent utility panels, and many in the fusion research community have said that the tokamak concept may be too expensive, radioactive, and complex to lead to a commercially viable power reactor;

      (6) the costs of developing a commercial tokamak fusion reactor are estimated to be $40,000,000,000 by the year 2040;

      (7) Department of Energy advisory panels have urged the Department to support research in alternative fusion concepts to broaden the base from which an eventual fusion power reactor might emerge;

      (8) resource constraints, however, have resulted in a severe reduction in research on alternative fusion concepts;

      (9) construction of large new tokamak devices threatens funding for basic fusion research; and

      (10) the Department of Energy, therefore, should substantially reorient its magnetic fusion research program by terminating planned construction of new, large tokamak devices, and it should begin a major effort on cleaner, cheaper, alternative concepts that have the potential of becoming commercially viable.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    For purposes of this Act--

      (1) the term ‘commercially viable’ means--

        (A) able to attract private sector capital;

        (B) requiring low operation and maintenance costs, including fuel costs;

        (C) reliable with continuous operational capability;

        (D) requiring limited personnel resources;

        (E) having low plant design complexity;

        (F) requiring low end-of-life costs;

        (G) emitting acceptable volumes of waste;

        (H) relatively easy to site, including low plant space requirements; and

        (I) safe;

      (2) the term ‘Department’ means the Department of Energy; and

      (3) the term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of Energy.

SEC. 4. ADVISORY PANEL.

    (a) REQUIREMENT- The Secretary shall convene a fusion policy advisory panel consisting of representatives from the electric utilities, environmental and citizen groups, energy policy analysts, advocates of alternative fusion technologies, and others as necessary to ensure a broad representation of interests.

    (b) PURPOSE- The panel shall analyze the wisdom of a single, narrow approach to fusion power, and shall develop recommendations for a plan for the future of United States fusion energy research, ensuring that adequate attention is given to alternative fusion concepts. Such recommendations shall be developed in consideration of the findings of this Act with the goal of the development of a commercially viable fusion power system, and shall take into account any international agreements the United States is party to and recommend any appropriate changes thereto.

    (c) REPORT TO CONGRESS- Within 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the panel shall issue a report to the Congress with its recommendations.

SEC. 5. UNITED STATES FUSION ENERGY RESEARCH PROGRAM.

    (a) PROGRAM PLAN- The Secretary shall develop, and within 270 days after the date of enactment of this Act transmit to the Congress, a comprehensive management plan for the United States fusion energy research program which is based on the recommendations of the panel under section 4. The plan shall provide for a fusion research program which is focused on fusion concepts that could lead to the development of a commercially viable fusion power system. The plan shall include specific program objectives, cost estimates, and program management resource requirements.

    (b) INDEPENDENT EVALUATION- The Secretary shall establish a mechanism for ongoing independent evaluation of the United States fusion energy research program, in order to ensure that programs not leading to a commercially viable fusion power system are terminated.

    (c) REPORTS TO CONGRESS- Within 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, and every 2 years thereafter, the Secretary shall transmit to the Congress a report describing the progress made in meeting the program objectives and schedules established in the management plan.