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FY2001 US Fusion Budget

September 29, 2000

House and Senate Conferees have agreed on funding for the Department of Energy, including funds for the US fusion programs for the Fiscal Year 2001, which begins October 1. The House of Representatives has since passed the appropriations bill. Senate action is expected soon.

The Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (OFES) was provided $255 million, the same as the House recommended previously (FPN00-30). The Senate previously passed a budget of only $227 million. The Administration request was $247 million. The conference report contains the following language:

"The Committee recommendation for fusion energy sciences is $255,000,000, an increase of $7,730,000 over the budget request. Additional funding of $25,000,000 has been provided in the inertial confinement fusion program in the Weapons Activities appropriation account to support work on the development of high average power lasers.

"Funds for this program should be allocated in accordance with the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee's (FESAC) report on Balance and Priorities. The Committee is pleased that the FESAC review process seems to be positioning the U.S. program to take advantage of the much larger international fusion research effort with the resources available and also positions the program to accelerate the development of fusion energy.

"The Committee recommendation includes the budget request of $19,600,000 for decontamination and decommissioning of the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR)."

In Defense Programs the Inertial Confinement Fusion program received $449.6 million, of which $199.1 million is for NIF. As indicated above the conferees provided $25 million for high average power lasers (money placed in Defense Programs account). The Senate bill contained no funding for this nor was it included in the Administration request.

The report language on Inertial Confinement Fusion is as follows:

"The conference agreement includes $449,600,000 for the inertial fusion program in the budget structure proposed by the House.

"Additional funding of $25,000,000 as proposed by the House has been provided to further development of high average power lasers. The conference agreement includes the budget request of $9,750,000 for the Naval Research Laboratory and the budget request of $32,150,000 for the University of Rochester. The conference agreement reflects the transfer of $40,000,000 from National Ignition Facility (NIF) operations funding to the NIF construction project.

"The conference agreement provides $2,500,000 from within available funds to transfer the Petawatt Laser from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to the University of Nevada-Reno, as proposed by the Senate.

The National Ignition Facility (NIF) construction funding provided is $199.1M, compared to $209M requested by the Administration in its latest rebaselining report (FPN00-47). Prior to the rebaselining, only $74M was requested in the President's budget request. The language on the NIF construction is as follows:

"The conference agreement provides $199,100,000 for continued construction of the National Ignition Facility (NIF). The conferees have included a directed reduction of $25,000,000 in the Weapons Activities account which is to be applied to programs under the direction of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

"The conferees have included statutory language providing that only $130,000,000 shall be made available for NIF at the beginning of fiscal year 2001 and the remaining $69,100,000 shall be available only upon delivery of a certification by March 31, 2001, by the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration that several requirements have been met. These requirements include:

"A. A recommendation on an appropriate path forward for the project based on a detailed review of alternative construction options that would (1) focus on first achieving operation of a 48 or 96 beam laser; (2) allow for the full demonstration of such a system in support of the stockpile stewardship program before proceeding with construction and operation of a larger laser complex; and (3) include a program and funding plan for the possible future upgrade to a full NIF configuration. The recommendation should include identification of available "off-ramps" and decision points where the project could be scaled to a smaller system.

"B. Certification that project and scientific milestones as established in the revised construction project data sheet for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2000 and the first two quarters of fiscal year 2001 have been met on schedule and on cost.

"C. Certification that the first and second quarter project reviews determined the project to be on schedule and cost and have provided further validation to the proposed path forward.

"D. Completion of a study that includes conclusions as to whether the full-scale NIF is required in order to maintain the safety and reliability of the current nuclear weapons stockpile, and whether alternatives to the NIF could achieve the objective of maintaining the safety and reliability of the current nuclear weapons stockpile.

"E. Certification that the NIF project has implemented an integrated cost-schedule earned-value project control system by March 1, 2000.

"F. A budget for NIF that fully describes how the NNSA intends to pay for NIF over the out years and what the potential for other impacts on the stockpile stewardship program will be.

"The conferees remain concerned about the Department's proposed budget increase and schedule delay for the NIF at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The conferees believe that previously the Department of Energy, and most recently the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), may have failed to examine adequately options for NIF that have fewer than the full 192 beams. For example, a preferred course for NIF may be to complete 48 or 96 beams as soon as possible (although block procurement of infrastructure and glass may be considered), bring the reduced NIF into operation, perform the necessary scientific and technical tests to evaluate whether a full NIF will work and its impact on stockpile stewardship, and then develop a path forward for NIF that balances its scientific importance within the overall needs of the stockpile stewardship program. To move on this path in fiscal year 2001, the conferees recommend that $199,100,000 be appropriated for NIF as follows: $74,100, 000 as originally proposed for Project 96-D-111, $40,000,000 from NIF operations funding within the budget request for LLNL, $25,000,000 to be identified within the budget request at LLNL, plus an additional $60,000,000 in new appropriations.

"Furthermore, the conferees direct the Administration to prepare a budget request for fiscal year 2002 that fully reflects a balanced set of programs and investments within the stockpile stewardship program, and that the overall budget profile over the next eight years will accommodate a $3.4 billion NIF along with the other critical aspects of the program."

There is a "general reduction" included in the bill which is likely to cost the fusion energy sciences program approximately $3 million.

The whole conference report on the Energy and Water bill can be viewed at //www.house.gov/rules/welcome2.htm (Click on the line that says "Conference Report for H.R. 4733" at the top).