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Congressman Eric Swalwell

Representing the 15th District of California

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Swalwell and Lofgren Lead Call for Strong Funding for U.S. Leadership in Fusion Research

April 6, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) this week led 25 other Members of Congress in urging strong funding for the National Ignition Facility (NIF), which conducts groundbreaking fusion research that could bring about a new energy future while helping America maintain its national security.

“The National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in my district keeps America at the forefront of fusion energy research, even as Russia, China and France speed up their investments,” Swalwell said. “And the experimental data it provides helps us maintain our nuclear stockpile while keeping our end of the international bargain not to conduct nuclear-weapon test explosions.”

Lofgren serves on the Energy Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, of which Swalwell is the former ranking member.

“The National Ignition Facility is the most powerful and advanced of its kind in the world,” Lofgren said. “We can achieve groundbreaking results so long as we don’t let our foot off the pedal. The rest of the world will not rest in their efforts to be the first to achieve fusion ignition, and neither should we.”

The NIF is the world’s largest and most powerful laser facility – the size of a sports stadium, with a giant laser using nearly 40,000 optics to precisely amplify and focus 192 beams onto a target about the size of a pencil eraser. This 500-trillion-watt blast lets scientists create extreme states of matter, including temperatures of more than 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit) and pressures that exceed 100 billion times Earth’s atmosphere.

This week’s letter to the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee supports strong funding for the NIF under the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Inertial Confinement Fusion and High Yield Campaign.

“Failing to provide stable and sufficient funding would have a negative impact on domestic fusion research at a critical juncture when major scientific breakthroughs are being achieved,” the Members of Congress wrote. “To ensure the U.S. does not fall behind our competitors and continues to build upon the significant investments already made, it is essential that NIF receive robust funding.”

Click here to read the letter in its entirety.