By Timothy GardnerWASHINGTON (.) – U.S. senators from both parties introduced legislation on Thursday to accelerate development of power plants run by nuclear fusion reactions, an emerging technology that one day could help fight climate change.The bill was introduced by Senators Alex Padilla, a Democrat, John Cornyn, a Republican, and others. WHY IT’S IMPORTANTIt is unclear whether fusion, which aims to replicate the process that fuels the sun by fusing two light atoms together to create energy, will ever be harnessed on Earth to generate power. If scientists and companies succeed, it could be a power source that emits virtually no greenhouse gas emissions and does not create large amounts of long-lasting radioactive waste. Countries including Japan, the U.K. and China are also pursuing fusion. WHAT WOULD THE BILL DO? A year ago, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted to create a separate regulatory framework for fusion, different than the one for nuclear fission, because there are fewer concerns about waste and safety. The Fusion Energy Act would ensure the development of a tailored NRC regulatory framework geared toward supporting the growth of commercial fusion. It would also require the NRC to report to Congress within a year about licensing commercial fusion machines.KEY QUOTES”We now need clear regulatory authority to scale up commercial American fusion energy facilities and incentivize fusion investments,” said Padilla.Cornyn said: “Fusion energy offers a potential clean, safe power source that can help meet our nation’s energy needs. I am proud to support advancements in fusion technology as part of Texas’ all-of-the-above energy economy.”3rd party Ad. Not an offer or recommendation . See disclosure here or
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.WHAT’S NEXT?A companion bill has already passed in the House of Representatives. The bipartisan sponsors in the Senate are working to include their bill in a nuclear package deal by House and Senate committees.