Pennacchio Introduces Bills Promoting Fusion Power into New Jersey State Senate
Sept. 11, 2019 (EIRNS)—Six bills were introduced into the New Jersey state legislature Aug. 26 by Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, for the promotion of fusion energy research in New Jersey and as part of a call for a national “crash fusion program.” On Sept. 9, Pennacchio’s office issued a press release entitled “Pennacchio Seeks To Make N.J. a Leader in Fusion Energy.”
On May 23 the Senator sponsored a symposium at the State House Annex, moderated by EIR’s Marsha Freeman, on “What Are the Prospects and Requirements for the Early Development of Fusion Energy, and What Are the Implications for the U.S., New Jersey, and the World?” The symposium brought experts in fusion energy research together with state political representatives, students, and interested citizens. Speakers included the science director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, and presidents of several New Jersey companies working on fusion development and spin-offs. The bills introduced Aug. 26 follow up proposals by participants at the symposium, and reflect the Senator’s support for fusion energy development. EIR gave full coverage of the symposium in its June 7 issue, titled, “ ‘Commercial Fusion Not Soon Enough’ Says N.J. State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio.” A video of the full symposium has been posted to Vimeo by Panoramic Reign Photography.
In his introductory remarks Senator Pennacchio said:
“It has been estimated that by 2025 we could have a sustainable fusion reaction, and commercial applications somewhere around 2050. That, in my humble opinion, is not soon enough. The problems that we have ... for instance in space travel, we have to get a new propulsion system that can overcome those challenges. One of the ways to allow intergalactic and interplanetary travel in the future. Imagine the benefits that men and women can reap from its development, and not only the main energy application of fusion, but the ancillary applications, like we had with the space program. Myself, and the other legislators in this building, we need to know how we can help that; how can we nurture and help this game-changer come into being.
“Imagine if this energy—this is special now—imagine if it had bipartisan support; imagine if it had the support of the environmentalists; imagine if countries like the United States, Russia, and China and Europe worked together.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed such a cooperative “crash program” for fusion power in his remarks to Second Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit on July 9, available on the Kremlin website.
Throughout the Trenton hearing, references to the Apollo Mission were made as a source of inspiration to scientists who have dedicated their lives to developing such breakthroughs as fusion energy. The new commitment to a Moon mission was also mentioned by students who were in attendance, who asked how the optimism in the room could be transferred to today’s young students, who are worried about shootings in their classrooms and other violence.
The package of bills establish a New Jersey Fusion Technology Industry Commission; establish a program to promote fusion technology industry and attract fusion technology businesses; provide that fusion energy and fusion technology companies are eligible to receive benefits under certain economic incentive programs; require that fusion be included within the definition of Class I renewable energy as defined in the Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act; and (SR 146) urge Congress to increase funding for fusion energy research. They would also establish a scholarship program for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in fusion science.
A follow-up resolution is expected, calling for national support for a fusion crash program, as in the McCormack Fusion Bill, passed and signed—but never funded—in 1980. Other states can mobilize for such an endeavor.