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The Almighty Buck Power United States Science

Senate Bill Raises Possibility of Withdrawl From ITER As Science Cuts Loom 180

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the brought-to-you-by-duke-energy dept.
ananyo writes "Are the knives coming out for ITER? A Senate Department of Energy spending bill, yet to be voted on, would cut domestic research for fusion and directs the DOE to explore the impact of withdrawing from ITER. The proposed cuts for domestic fusion research are in line with those proposed in the Obama administration's budget request but come after the House ... voted to boost ITER funding and to support the domestic program at almost 2012 levels on 6 June. U.S. fusion researchers do not want a withdrawal from ITER yet but if the 2014 budget looks at all like the 2013 one, that could change. 'They're not trying to kill ITER just yet,' says Stephen Dean, president of advocacy group Fusion Power Associates. 'If this happens again in 2014, I'm not so sure.' The problems for fusion could be small beans though. The 'sequester', a pre-programmed budget cut scheduled to take effect on 2 January, could cut 7.8% or more off science and other federal budgets unless Congress can enact last-minute legislation to reduce the deficit without starving U.S. science-funding agencies."
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Senate Bill Raises Possibility of Withdrawl From ITER As Science Cuts Loom

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  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @10:38AM (#40764047)

    Unemployment benefits I believe are right now about $500B-$600B of the current federal budget.

    Combined state and federal unemployment benefits peaked in 2010 at $160 billion, 2010 was about $120 billion.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @11:52AM (#40765103)

    before we talk about entitlements I think we need to create a proper bar graph where one bar is entitlements and the other is military. Then we can talk entitlement cut.

    From the 2012 budget...

    MIlitary budget, including overseas contingency operations: $716.3 Billion.

    Note that the above doesn't count the VA, which can adds in another $129.6 Billion.

    If you assume that the VA is part of "military spending", that makes the total $845.9 Billion.

    If you assume VA is NOT part of "military spending", then it probably should be added to "entitlement spending"....

    Entitlement spending...

    Social Security: $778.6 Billion.

    Medicare: $484.4 Billion

    "Income Security": $579.5 Billion.

    Total: $1842.5 Billion

    Not sure if that's all the entitlements, but looks reasonable. Note that Medicaid may or may not be included in "Income Security". If it's not, then add a hundred billion or so more onto the entitlement pile.

    Note that payment on the National Debt amounted to $225 Billion. So about 6% of our federal spending vanishes to pay for overspending in previous years....

    So, "entitlements" amount to rather more than twice "military spending" if you count VA as "military spending", and 2.75x "military spending" if you count the VA as "entitlement spending"....

    Note, by the by, that those two chunks of money ("entitlements" and "military spending" amount to considerably more than we take in in tax revenue. So we could ZERO the rest of the government, and still have a large deficit with those untouched.

  • by Sgs-Cruz (526085) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @01:54PM (#40766895) Homepage Journal

    Ph.D student in fusion here. (I was one of the authors of this Ask Slashdot [slashdot.org].)

    It's important to note that there are a range of opinions on this. Everyone thinks ITER is a good idea, at the right price. That price was originally quoted at $5-billion (with the U.S. picking up 9% of that) when the U.S. made the decision to join in 2003; today the construction cost is estimated at somewhere north of $20-billion. Hopefully now with Motojima as Director-General, this cost will stop rising. (From what I hear, he's being very rigorous about cost and schedule control and pushing the team hard on these fronts.)

    The problem for the U.S. is that participation in ITER doesn't make sense without a strong domestic program in place to take advantage of the results that come out of it. And without a (temporary) surge in U.S. fusion funding to get over the ITER construction "hump", the entire domestic program might be "squeezed" out of existence. Check out the graph here:

    http://fire.pppl.gov/FusionFuture_USbudget_profile.jpg [pppl.gov]

    So it's not so much a matter of "is ITER good science?" (it is!). The question is: "is ITER the right path for the U.S. at a cost of 9% of $20-billion or $25-billion, without a commitment to sustain the domestic program through the ITER construction phase?"

    I urge everyone here to go to our website that we set up at fusionfuture.org [fusionfuture.org], which has a lot of information about this issue. We still need your help - the House has restored funding for the domestic fusion program [fusionfuture.org], but the current Senate version of the bill still has the domestic fusion budget slashed (and the fusion experiment at MIT entirely closed down). There is still work to do!

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