The Financial Times has shortlisted Pillsbury for its “Innovative Lawyers in Energy Transition” award in North America for 2023.

Pillsbury was shortlisted based on the firm’s advocacy for the Fusion Industry Association’s (FIA) efforts to develop a regulatory framework for fusion.

In April 2023, following two years of public advocacy by Pillsbury and the FIA, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission unanimously voted to regulate fusion energy under existing rules for use of byproduct materials. This approach separates the regulation of fusion energy from the framework used for nuclear fission, allowing the NRC to tailor its approach to the rapidly emerging fusion sector and giving developers regulatory certainty to innovate and grow fusion into a viable energy source.

Fusion promises nearly limitless, safe and carbon-free energy. Investment in commercial fusion has surpassed $5 billion, with dozens of pilot-scale projects in development. This accelerated activity, together with the urgency of global net-zero goals, underscores the importance of an efficient regulatory and licensing framework for these projects.

The commission’s vote is a major step for the U.S. fusion industry and for the nation’s role in the clean energy transition as the current global leader in fusion development. The NRC’s clear regulatory pathway will accelerate research, development and commercialization efforts, aiding decarbonization and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

Nuclear Energy practice leader Jeff Merrifield, counsel Sid Fowler and associate Ashley Meredith led the efforts on behalf of the FIA. Merrifield is a former NRC Commissioner who advises numerous utilities, industry organizations and NGOs in developing regulatory strategies for energy projects and has testified before Congress on advanced energy technologies on numerous occasions. Fowler and Meredith also formerly worked as NRC legal advisors. Fowler’s practice concentrates on the complex regulatory and policy landscape of next-generation energy and energy transition technologies such as fusion, hydrogen, and nuclear. Meredith focuses her practice on regulatory compliance, internal investigations, and nuclear export controls, and also serves as an Army JAG Officer with the National Intelligence Support Group.

Pillsbury’s fusion energy practice complements the firm’s well-established focus on the Energy Transition—including positions at the forefront of Advanced Nuclear, Hydrogen, Renewable Energy and Sustainable Finance, among others. The award-winning team includes thought leaders in the modernization of nuclear energy, advanced nuclear technologies and the use of artificial intelligence for managing complex energy systems.