Sens. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) and Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.) on September 24 introduced S. 4694, the Russian Suspension Agreement Extension Act of 2020, designed to extend and expand limits on Russian uranium imports. The legislation—cosponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), and Jim Risch (R., Idaho)—has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
What it does: According to Barrasso, S. 4694 would reduce reliance on imports of Russian uranium in order to protect national security, strengthen the supply chain for nuclear fuel produced in the United States, close loopholes that hurt American uranium producers, and require the energy secretary to submit a report updating Congress on the steps being taken to accurately measure uranium imports.
What they’re saying: “Russia continues to undercut Wyoming’s uranium producers by flooding the market with cheap nuclear fuel,” Barrasso said. “Vladimir Putin and his satellite states are using uranium as a geopolitical weapon. This is a threat to both our energy security and national security. The Trump administration is taking important steps to stop them. Our bipartisan legislation will codify those actions in law. It will also help revive and strengthen American uranium production. I look forward to working with members on both sides of the aisle to get this legislation passed.”
Background: Barrasso, Heinrich, Cotton, Cramer, Graham, Manchin, and Murkowski, along with Sens. Mike Braun (R., Ind.), Mike Enzi (R., Wyo.), and Tom Udall (D., N.M.), sent a letter on May 20 to Assistant Secretary of Commerce Jeffrey Kessler, calling for the extension of the Russian Suspension Agreement—a recommendation of the Nuclear Fuel Working Group, which was formed by President Trump in July 2019 to develop policy options to reinvigorate domestic nuclear fuel production.
On September 14, Barrasso released a statement praising a preliminary deal struck on September 12 by the Department of Commerce and Rosatom, Russia’s state atomic energy corporation, that would limit Russian uranium imports through 2040.