Falls Church’s U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, founder of the bipartisan House Fusion Energy Caucus and member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, keynoted a White House Summit on Developing a Bold Decadal Vision for Commercial Fusion Energy last month.
Beyer told the News-Press that he has long been a supporter of nuclear fusion research and development and thinks that it is the most viable long-term and profoundly game-changing solution to the world’s energy needs.
Unlike fission, fusion is safe and the most basic process by which the universe powers itself. Beyer opined that commercial fusion could begin to be viable by the middle of the next decade.
The White House event, hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Department of Energy, was held to “convene fusion energy leaders from government, industry, academia, and other stakeholder groups to showcase progress made and have inclusive conversations about an updated fusion strategy.”
The following is the text of Beyer’s introductory remarks:
“Genesis, Chapter 1, Verse 3: And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. And the light came from fusion energy. All of the fossil fuel we burn was created by the light from fusion. Every atom heavier than hydrogen in every cell of our bodies and our world was created by fusion. We are made of stardust.
“To those skeptics who believe fusion energy impossible, there are 100 billion stars in our galaxy, and two trillion galaxies in our observable universe, and every single one of them is powered by fusion energy. Gravity gives us fusion, and fusion gives us life. We will always worry about Peak Oil, Peak Coal, Peak Natural Gas, but no one ever gets stressed about Peak Sea Water.
“Good morning and thank you for inviting me to participate in this existentially exciting summit on Commercial Fusion Energy. I am thrilled that these important discussions are happening at the top levels of government, so that we can successfully forge a path towards the commercialization of fusion energy.
“Fusion is the Holy Grail of climate change and decarbonized future. Perhaps even more profoundly, fusion has the potential to lift more citizens of the world out of poverty than any idea since fire.
“I started the Fusion Energy Caucus in Congress around this time last year. To date, we’ve signed on over 50 members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans – and I’m very glad my good friend and co-leader Chuck Fleischmann is here, as well. Our mission as a Caucus is to educate members and (more importantly) their staff about the breakthroughs, research, and increasing potential of fusion energy to transform the global energy sector.
“But, it is important that we let the public know about this, which is why events like these are so crucial. I include fusion energy in every speech, maybe every conversation, to continue the process of teaching the world what fusion is not (Chenobyl, Fukashima) and what it is!
“Another part of our mission as a caucus is to pull any legislative levers we have at our disposal to advance progress in this arena. To that end, we’ve held a Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing on fusion energy, the Caucus has held several briefings with experts, including some here today, and we have had several iterations of funding and authorizations for fusion programs pass the House in the last year.
“This includes, but isn’t limited to, historic investments in the DOE Science for the Future Act and the forthcoming innovation and competitiveness package that is being conferenced as we speak, which authorizes over $6.4 billion in critical fusion energy research and development activities over the next five years.
“I’m perhaps most heartened by the historic funding we just secured for fusion programs in the FY 22 omnibus spending package, which President Biden just signed into law. With these investments, the DOE will initiate a new milestone-based public private partnership, and continue the important research and construction work happening in the DOE’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences.
“As we turn toward crafting the FY23 budget, it is essential that we see the Administration include a strong request for the DOE Office of Science, where fusion programs are housed. I hope that this request, which will come on the heels of the event today, will reflect the robust funding that is necessary to continue U.S. leadership in fusion energy — and push forward our goal of commercialization.
“This is essential and I cannot stress this point strongly enough. Cynics have suggested that over the decades we have invested just enough to make sure successful fusion commercialization never happens. This Administration has changed that, which we must celebrate and be thankful.
“I am honored to be here with the pioneers of the next great leap for humanity. Thank you for your leadership and your vision, and I look forward to hearing today’s lively discussions on the future of fusion energy.”