U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Appropriations energy and water subcommittee, said there is an effort each year to try to control costs by eliminating at least one low-priority program “to reduce waste and conduct proper oversight.”
This time around the target is U.S. funding for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (which is being built in France).
Alexander said the 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill eliminates funding for the U.S. involvement in the big fusion project. He said that would save $150 million for next year alone. The U.S. effort in ITER is based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
He said Department of Energy studies of ITER have been highly critical of the project, and he said he thought he money could be better utilized elsewhere.
Asked if he thought the United States should withdraw from the ITER partnership, which also includes Russia, Europe, South Korea, Japan, China and India, Alexander said: “I’m not ready to say that yet. I’m not ready to fund it further in the present conditions.”
The House Appropriations energy and water bill contains $150 million for ITER, so the future of U.S. work on the project could be decided in Senate/House conference.
Photo credit: ITER
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