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.
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.
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.
WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump says he will not impose quotas on importing uranium, backing away from a possible trade confrontation and breaking with a Commerce Department assessment that America's use of foreign uranium raises national security concerns. The decision is unusual for Trump, who has pointed to national security concerns in calling for restrictions on foreign metal and autos in trade negotiations. It is also drawing rare criticism from Republicans in energy-rich states. Uranium is a vital component for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, submarines and power plants, which prompted a monthslong Commerce Department investigation into whether such materials fall under the national security umbrella. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has said that just 5 percent of the uranium the U.S. needs for military and electricity generation comes from domestic production.
In the wake of Uranium One, some lawmakers are now calling for further investigation into Russian influence on U.S. nuclear supply. As questions and investigations about Russian influence in our election process continue, what many Americans may not realize is that adversarial countries, like Russia, stand to have an outsized influence over our power grid. Uranium, which is on an Interior Department target list of critical minerals, fuels nuclear power plants, which generate 20 percent of electricity in the United States. It also helps power U.S. Navy assets. One pound of uranium is equivalent to 20,000 pounds of coal.