A group of 50 members of Congress signed a letter to President Donald Trump urging the administration to increase domestic production of uranium supplies needed by U.S. nuclear power plants.
The letter argues the American nuclear sector is too dependent on uranium imports, including from countries holding hostile positions towards the U.S.
“Our 98 domestic operating nuclear power plant reactors require roughly 50 million pounds of uranium annually. Nuclear is the cleanest, most reliable energy source in the United States,” the letter states. “Domestic production for calendar year 2019 is on pace to be a fraction of 1% of total demand and we will import roughly 99% of what we need from foreign countries; namely foreign adversaries Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and China.”
The signers believe increased domestic production has multiple benefits, “There is no reason America should be importing 97-99% of the uranium necessary for domestic reactors from countries with Russian influence when we have an ample supply here at home that will create good-paying jobs and be mined under higher standards that protect our environment.”
Russia and China have moved quickly to take a greater control of the global supply of uranium, according to the letter.
“Following their carefully orchestrated geopolitical plan, Russia and its allies flood the global market with uranium from state-owned companies, making it impossible for America and other free market economies to compete. Meanwhile, quietly and gradually, China has been buying up previously free market uranium mines to control global supply.”
At the same, production from the U.S. and its allies continue to decline, the letter states, “U.S. uranium mining companies produced 721,000 pounds last year – only enough uranium to fuel about one nuclear reactor. And the uranium mining industries in allied countries, such as Canada and Australia, face the same challenges. Today, only one uranium mine operates in Canada and mines in Australia are slowing production.”
The group is led by Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Paul Gozar (R-Ariz.), two leading members of the Congressional Western Caucus. They are joined by senior Republicans including Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.)
These members of Congresses are sending the letter following recent actions by the administration to reduce the reliance on the foreign supply of other critical minerals. They say uranium is a vital resource for power generation and there are additional national security and economic interests.
“The list of 35 critical minerals encompasses necessary materials for clean energy production, nuclear deterrence, and enabling our smartphones to connect us with information and people from around the world. The U.S. has become too dependent on foreign powers for these essential components of our economy and defense,” the letter continues.
In a statement, Gosar said he hopes Trump will take decisive action to strengthen national security.
“America jeopardizes its national security by relying on hostile nations for uranium when it is abundantly available right here in the United States,” said Gosar. “President Trump has a real opportunity to address this growing threat head on and put America first, and I will continue to encourage him to do so.”
The signers rounded up support from 20 private sector trade associations including the American Exploration & Mining Association and the National Mining Association.
Politico reports that Trump is expected to make a decision on whether to limit uranium imports by Saturday, June 13.