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Garamendi Amendment to Advance Commercialization of Fusion Power Included in Electrifying Legislation to Strengthen Science Education and Create Green Jobs

April 28, 2010
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA) voted for legislation in the House Science and Technology Committee that will strengthen U.S. scientific and economic leadership, support employers, and create jobs in the short-, mid-, and long-term through investments in science, innovation, and education.  

"More than half of the growth in our GDP since World War II can be attributed to development and adoption of new technologies," said Rep. Garamendi. "The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act will strengthen STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, support basic research at our science agencies, and foster innovation—all of which are crucial to ensuring our nation can compete in a global economy."

The legislation puts basic research programs—the Department of Energy Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology labs—on a path to double funding over ten years, based on the 2007 appropriated funding levels.

Congressman Garamendi joined Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA) in offering an amendment to the COMPETES Act that would require the Director of the Office of Science to prepare for the reliable, safe, sustainable, and economically competitive transfer of fusion power from public research to commercial development. In en earlier markup of a portion of this legislation, Garamendi successfully inserted language that directs the Department of Energy to create a roadmap for fusion energy production no later than 180 after the release of a National Academies report on inertial fusion energy research.

"I'd like to thank Congressman Garamendi for his leadership in offering this important amendment to America COMPETES," said Dr. George Miller, Director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory regarding the previously included markup. "I strongly support both the National Academy of Sciences study of the implications of the progress made in fusion energy -- and the incorporation of any relevant recommendations from that study into a plan for implementation."

"Livermore’s National Ignition Facility may be on the cusp of developing the next great clean energy advance: fusion power," Congressman Garamendi said. "As their research brings us closer to a fusion powered future, we must prepare for the commercial development of this technology. Our amendment makes sure that once fusion technology is harnessed, we will put it to work creating clean energy and green jobs as soon as possible."

Over 140 organizations have endorsed the legislation including:  the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Business Roundtable, the Council on Competitiveness, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Venture Capital Association, TechAmerica, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

About the America COMPETES Act

The America COMPETES Act was based on the 2005 National Academies’ report Rising Above the Gathering Storm.  The report found that “the scientific and technological building blocks critical to our economic leadership are eroding at a time when many other nations are gathering strength.”  COMPETES incorporated the science, technology and STEM education recommendations from the report and was signed into law with broad bipartisan support in 2007.  It expires at the end of this fiscal year.

For more information the S&T Committee’s work on COMPETES, please visit the Committee’s website.