Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Mike Capuano
Date: March 21, 2013
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CAPUANO. Mr. Speaker, rise today to address a matter of great concern not only for my congressional district, but for the future of science research in the United States. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, has been a leader in fusion energy research for decades, and I would like to clarify congressional intent regarding the continued operations of its Alcator C-Mod fusion energy experiment.

While the President's Fiscal Year 2013 budget request contained a substantial increase for the international fusion energy project ITER, based in France, it dramatically reduced domestic fusion energy funding as a trade-off. As part of this effort, the President's request would schedule the Alcator C-Mod tokamak for closure. I want to be clear: at no point in the appropriations process has Congress approved of or authorized this closure.

The Continuing Resolution before us today, H.R. 933, directs the Department of Energy, DOE, to continue virtually all policy and funding provisions included in currently enacted appropriations legislation for FY 2012 for DOE, including its Office of Science. The Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee has previously expressed profound concern regarding the need to maintain a balance between domestic and international funding in the Department of Energy's Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, as well as the need to maintain the US fusion talent base and leadership. Although the President's budget for FY 2013 proposed a major shift in funding from domestic fusion programs, including for the C-Mod fusion facility, neither the House nor the Senate Appropriations Committee approved those changes. It is my understanding that it is the intention of the Appropriations Committee that funding for all major domestic magnetic fusion activities should be continued under H.R. 933, just as they were in FY 2012. Under this Continuing Resolution, the Office of Science should neither start nor stop programs, subprograms, or activities, including those within the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences. In MIT's case, this means that over the course of FY 2013, the Department should provide sufficient funds for operations and research for C-Mod and other domestic fusion facilities consistent with FY 2012 levels, minus sequestration.

MIT's emphasis on American innovation in fusion energy and the training of our next generation of fusion energy scientists is vital to the overall success of our Nation's program. Congress has not approved a closure of the Alcator C-Mod tokamak, and its continued operation through FY 2013 is provided for in H.R. 933.


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