Uranium reserve bill reintroduced in House; Grand Canyon mining ban progresses

March 4, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

The House of Representatives produced some good news for the nation’s uranium mining industry in late February, but also some of the opposite variety.

Latta

First, on February 25, Rep. Bob Latta (R, Ohio) reintroduced the Nuclear Prosperity and Security Act (H.R. 1351), initially brought forward by the congressman last July. The bill would direct the secretary of energy to establish and operate a uranium reserve in the United States to ensure the availability of the element in the event of a market disruption and to support U.S. strategic fuel cycle capabilities.

“The United States has fallen behind in the competitive development of nuclear energy, and now we rely heavily on foreign sources of uranium,” Latta stated. “In order to avoid threats to our nuclear supply chain, we need to build up our domestic uranium mining, production, and conversion by establishing a uranium reserve. The Nuclear Prosperity and Security Act would establish a domestic uranium reserve that will result in lower carbon emissions, new jobs and economic growth, and a more secure world.”

H.R. 1351 has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

But then: On February 26, the House in a 227–200 vote passed the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act (H.R. 803), which includes legislation to withdraw more than one million acres around the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona from new uranium mining claims, while leaving current claims alone.

A view of the Grand Canyon's Kwangunt Butte and Nankoweap Mesa. Photo: NPS

Grijalva

That legislation had been originally introduced (as the Grand Canyon Protection Act) in February 2019 by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D, Ariz.). Despite being passed in the House later that year, it failed to gain traction in the Senate. Grijalva and 16 other Democrats introduced H.R. 803 on February 15 of this year. The following week, on February 23, Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Senema introduced their version of the bill in the Senate.

H.R. 803 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

In case you missed it: The $1.4 trillion spending bill signed last year by then-president Donald Trump included $75 million in funding for a strategic uranium reserve. Uranium Energy Corporation chairman and former energy secretary Spencer Abraham termed the allocation “a shot in the arm,” adding that he expected “to see Washington build on this program and take other appropriate actions to strengthen our sector.”


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