WASHINGTON – A plea from uranium mining companies and nuclear power plant operators for tax breaks and other federal financial boosts is going before President Donald Trump, as his administration studies reviving the U.S. uranium industry in the name of national security. Trump is scheduled to receive recommendations Thursday from a task force of national security, military and other federal officials about ways to revive U.S. uranium mining, which has lagged against global competition amid low uranium ore prices. Uranium is a vital component for the country's nuclear arsenal, submarines and nuclear power plants. U.S. uranium users get about 10 percent of their supply from domestic sources, the federal Energy Information Administration has said. Most of the rest comes from Canada and Australia, followed by Russia and former Soviet republics.
Signs on the gates of an abandoned uranium mine in Red Water Pond, Navajo Nation. On Thursday morning, Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette announced "an array of policy options to restore America's leadership in nuclear energy" by reducing the nation's dependence on foreign uranium suppliers. Compiled by the Nuclear Fuel Working Group over the past nine months, the recommendations amount to a thinly veiled exercise in crony capitalism: streamlining the permitting process for uranium mining on public lands, creating a new federal uranium reserve, and allocating $150 million per year to stock that reserve with domestically mined uranium. According to the Department of Commerce, importing uranium from countries like Russia and Kazahkstan "creates strategic vulnerabilities to both our economy and military." This logic, echoed by the Department of Energy's announcement and recent statements by Republican lawmakers, implies that foreign adversaries could exploit US reliance on their uranium to disrupt our production of nuclear energy and weapons.
FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2004, file photo, Smith Ranch-Highland employee, April Frausto, samples water for contamination, at a monitoring well on the perimeter of the uranium mining zone 30 miles north of Douglas, Wyo. The Environmental Protection Agency is reconsidering plans to require groundwater at former uranium mines to be restored to conditions similar to those that existed before mining began.
A powerful court ruled on Tuesday that an Obama-era ban on new uranium mines around the Grand Canyon should stay in place, though celebration on the environment side was tempered by expectations the government itself will now side with mining interests to end the ban. A separate, but linked, ruling on an older mine was a defeat for a Native American tribe.
Attorney Victoria Toensing on an FBI informant's allegations related to the Uranium One deal. The values that settled and protected America's West are unwavering and unchanging. In the 33 states and territories of the 75 members of our bipartisan Congressional Western Caucus, we believe in local and regional control of our destiny, not reliance on others. We fiercely advance energy dominance and independence. And we are committed to securing America's energy future and national security.