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Congress and the Fusion Energy Sciences Program: A Historical Analysis

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Publication Date: January 2000

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL30417

Topic: Energy (Energy research and technology)


The U.S. government has been funding research into controlled thermonuclear fusion since 1951. Since 1957, when the program was declassified, a public record is available in the form of appropriations and authorization reports presenting congressional decisions about fusion research. This report analyzes that record in order to assess how the program may fare in the future. The program recently underwent a major restructuring at the direction of Congress, and is currently establishing plans about how to proceed toward the goal of developing a practical fusion powerplant. These plans are likely to be the subject of close congressional scrutiny during review of the FY2001 budget request from the Department of Energy. The report should be helpful, to Members and staff who will be part of that review, in putting the program’s budget request into perspective. It supplements a CRS Issue Brief, IB91039, on the DOE Fusion Energy Sciences Program. This report will be updated as appropriate.