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FPN04-24

Bob Card Leaves USDOE April 18

April 8, 2004

In a surprise move, the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) announced that UnderSecretary of Energy Robert Card will leave the department April 18. Card had recently been very visible on "The Hill," testifying before Congressional committees on the USDOE's Fiscal Year 2005 budget requests. Card also chaired the U.S delegation to December 20, 2003 "ministerial meeting" which was unable to reach agreement on a site for the ITER international fusion engineering test reactor project. With his industrial and engineering background, Card also had been a modest counterbalance to the Administration's penchant for casting the U.S. fusion effort as a "science" program with no engineering development component. The U.S. government currently views ITER as a "burning plasma physics experiment," whereas the other ITER Parties (Europe, Russia, China, Korea and Japan) view ITER primarily as a fusion engineering test reactor stepping stone to a fusion power plant.

In a statement, Card said "I had planned from the beginning to serve the full term, but pressing family issues overtook my plans early this year."

The USDOE also announced that David Conover will take over Card's responsibilities for DOE's "climate change portfolio." Conover, who is Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Energy, recently participated in an "Energy Options for the Future" meeting at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. In his talk, Conover indicated that fusion was an important part of the USDOE's long range plan for dealing with climate change. The Office of Management and Budget reportedly asked Conover to remove fusion from his list of climate change technologies, citing that fusion was just a science program. Conover reportedly refused to do this. The role of fusion in the US climate change portfolio is posted at http://www.climatetechnology.gov