In our view, any actions taken to reinvigorate this nuclear supply chain should start at the front end with responsible mining here at home. Accordingly, we recommend that your Working Group make use of the Administration ‘s own related work on critical minerals to inform your deliberations.

On September 30th, members of the Congressional Western Caucus sent a letter to President Trump’s chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, and Richard O’Brien, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, as well as many other key cabinet officials, including Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry. The letter (below) warns the Administration that the existing imbalance in foreign production and acquisition of uranium, a crucial element in the development of nuclear weapons, has negative implications for both jobs in western states and national security.  Twenty-eight members of the Western Caucus signed the letter, which says:

We write to you regarding America’s dangerous and increasing reliance on foreign sources of uranium.

As President Trump noted in his recent “Memorandum on the Effect of Uranium Imports on the National Security and Establishment of the United States Nuclear Fuel Working Group,” the United States currently imports “approximately 93 percent of its commercial uranium, compared to 85.8 percent in 2009.” This is a very troubling situation given how important this element is to our nuclear weapons complex and clean energy generation. The President’s aforementioned memorandum also warned that “the United States uranium industry faces significant challenges in producing uranium domestically and that this is an issue of national security.” We agree with this perspective and would like to work closely with you to address it going forward.               

While the President has decided against placing tariffs on foreign uranium at this time, he has directed you to establish and co-chair a Nuclear Fuel Working Group (the “Working Group”) to consider alternatives for reinvigorating the domestic supply chain. Your work on this issue comes at a pivotal moment for an industry that has seen production decline from a recent high of 1.4 million pounds in Q2 of 2013, to 365,000 in Q2 of last year, and a mere 45,000 pounds in the second quarter of this year. We have seen a corresponding drop in employment, from a high of 21,000 in the 1980s to a workforce of less than 400 in 2019.

In our view, any actions taken to reinvigorate this nuclear supply chain should start at the front end with responsible mining here at home. Accordingly, we recommend that your Working Group make use of the Administration ‘s own related work on critical minerals to inform your deliberations.

Specifically, we direct your attention to a report published by the Commerce Department in June of 2019 (the “Commerce Report”) in response to an Executive Order that was issued in December of 2017 and called for a “Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.” Uranium has already been designated as a critical mineral, making it subject to the calls to action contained in the Commerce Report.

One of those calls to action is particularly relevant and important to the Working Group’s eventual recommendations and asserted that the U.S. must, “Improve Access to Domestic Critical Minerals Resources on Federal Lands and Reduce Federal Permitting Timeframes.” We support the Administration taking steps to implement this call to action for uranium and other critical minerals.

Improved access and timely permitting are among the most promising policy options available to create jobs via responsible domestic production of uranium and improve national security by reducing our reliance on foreign sources of uranium, all while keeping fuel prices low for America’s nuclear power generators by increasing available supplies.

As the Working Group evaluates further actions for the President to consider taking, we strongly encourage you to make improved access to federal lands with high-grade uranium deposits a top priority. Greater access to our own resources will help put Americans to work exploring for and responsibly producing the uranium that our country needs.

We thank you for your attention to these important matters and look forward to working with you and the President to make America more prosperous and secure.

The letter can be viewed in its entirety on Scribd:

Congressional Western Caucus Uranium Letter


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