Young intros bipartisan Fusion Energy Act

U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) on April 17 signed on as an original cosponsor of a bipartisan bill that aims to hasten development of zero-carbon fusion technology in the American commercial market. 

“Our bipartisan bill marks a pivotal step in advancing fusion energy, which has the potential to usher in a new era of energy production in America,” Sen. Young said on Tuesday. 

Specifically, the Fusion Energy Act of 2024, S. 4151, which is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA), would codify the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) regulatory authority over commercial fusion energy systems in efforts to streamline the creation of federal regulations to support the development of commercial production facilities, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

The NRC last April voted to separate the regulatory frameworks of fusion and fission energy and create a unique regulatory framework for fusion energy, the summary says. 

If enacted, S. 4151 would ensure a tailored NRC regulatory framework is developed that’s focused on supporting growth of the emerging commercial fusion energy sector. 

“By establishing a clear regulatory framework, this bill would improve the research and development of fusion capabilities, enabling commercialization and reaffirming American leadership in innovation and technology,” said Sen. Young.

S. 4151 also would require the NRC to study and report to Congress within one year regarding licensing commercial fusion machines, including streamlining considerations, states the summary.

“Fusion energy holds the potential to power the entire country with a sustainable supply of nearly unlimited, reliable, and carbon-free electricity,” said Sen. Padilla. “We now need clear regulatory authority to scale up commercial American fusion energy facilities and incentivize fusion investments.”

The Fusion Industry Association endorsed the measure, which has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

S. 4151 is the companion bill to the identical H.R. 5244, introduced in August 2023 by U.S. Reps. Jay Obernolte (R-CA) and Lori Trahan (D-MA), who are among four Congressional Fusion Energy Caucus co-chairs. H.R. 5244 passed the full chamber as part of a larger bill, according to Sen. Young’s staff.