Senate bill has zero funds for ITER; Alexander says money could be better used elsewhere

iterblogU.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

A feature on Atomic City Underground allows readers to sign up for email updates and receive a notice each time new information is posted on the news blog. Just put your email address in the box on the lower right of the blog’s front page and follow instructions. Thanks to all loyal readers.

This entry was posted in DOE HQ, ITER, ORNL, Science on by .

About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.