The Senate Appropriations Committee last week released all 12 fiscal year 2021 appropriation measures and subcommittee allocations, including an Energy and Water Development bill that provides $150 million for establishing a U.S. uranium reserve, the same amount requested by the Trump administration in its February budget estimate.
The committee’s Republican majority decided to bypass the usual markup and full Senate consideration of the bills and instead proceed directly to negotiations with the House, in hopes of passing an omnibus bill by the December 11 deadline to avoid a government shutdown.
“By and large, these bills are the product of bipartisan cooperation among members of the committee,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.), chairman of the Appropriations Committee. “As negotiations with the House begin in earnest, I look forward to working with Chairwoman Lowey, Vice Chairman Leahy, and Ranking Member Granger to resolve our differences in a bipartisan manner.”
More mining: The establishment of a uranium reserve was a key recommendation of Restoring America’s Competitive Nuclear Energy Advantage, the April Department of Energy report from the Nuclear Fuel Working Group. The working group was an assemblage of experts tasked by President Trump last year to conduct an analysis of national security considerations with respect to the nuclear fuel supply chain.
Under the uranium reserve program, the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy would buy uranium directly from domestic mines and contract for uranium conversion services. The program is expected to support the operation of at least two U.S. uranium mines, reestablish active conversion capabilities, and ensure a backup supply of uranium for nuclear power operators in the event of a market disruption.
Quote: Jeff Klenda, chairman and chief executive officer of the uranium mining company Ur-Energy, called the committee’s funding recommendation a “historic step forward toward the establishment of the American uranium reserve.”
He added, “We have maintained operational readiness at our Lost Creek mine [an in situ recovery uranium facility in south-central Wyoming] with our experienced technical and operational staff and a well-maintained plant. Lost Creek has been operating safely and steadily for more than seven years, and we are prepared to rapidly expand uranium production, to an annualized run rate of 1 million pounds.”