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U.S. fusion community reacts to FY 2013 budget proposals.

The U.S. fusion community has reacted strongly to proposed cuts in the domestic fusion program contained in the President's FY 2013 budget.

In a February 27 letter sent to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and President Obama's Science Advisor John Holdren, seven senior members of the community (David Anderson, Ray Fonck, Stan Milora, Miklos Porkolab, Stewart Prager, Ned Sauthoff and Tony Taylor) said, "As leaders and stewards of the current U.S. fusion research effort, we are unfortunately compelled to point out that the Fiscal Year 2013 budget request will demote the U.S. program to a second-tier player in the world fusion effort." The letter states, "After years of operating on minimal budgets and essentially level funding, the domestic fusion program cannot withstand the proposed reductions without severe negative impact to our essential capabilities and our scientific contributions to the international fusion program and ITER." "If implemented," the letter says, "the $49 million cut contained in the budget request will result in the layoff of hundreds of fusion scientists, engineers, graduate students, and support personnel. ..."

An article in the February 24 issue of Science magazine by Adrian Cho, headlined "Bigger Contribution to ITER Erodes Domestic Fusion Program," summarizes the reaction of the fusion community. "I was shocked," the article quotes MIT's Porkoiab as saying, "I didn't have the faintest idea of what was coming." (The budget proposes to shut down the Alcator C-Mod at MIT, one of three major fusion research tokamaks in the U.S.). The article quotes Martin Greenwald, chair of DOE's Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, as saying that contributing to ITER "is reasonable only in the context of a domestic program. Otherwise you're just building a piece of equipment for other people to use." Princeton's Stewart Prager is quoted as saying, "If all the cuts go through, we would have to lay off about 100 of 435 staff."

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Publication:Fusion Power Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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