Bill to ban Russian uranium imports debuts
In the latest effort by the federal government to sanction Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) last week introduced legislation to prohibit the importation of Russian uranium to the United States.
The Biden administration banned imports of Russian oil, liquefied natural gas, and coal, via executive order on March 8.
Barrasso’s bill, S. 3856, was introduced on March 16, with three of his fellow GOP lawmakers as cosponsors: Sens. Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Cynthia Lummis (R., Wyo.), and Roger Marshall (R., Kan.).
“The time is now to permanently remove all Russian energy from the American marketplace,” said Barrasso, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee. “We know Vladimir Putin uses this money to help fund his brutal and unprovoked war in Ukraine. While banning imports of Russian oil, gas, and coal is an important step, it cannot be the last. Banning Russian uranium imports will further defund Russia’s war machine, help revive American uranium production, and increase our national security.”
Bill endorsement: “Our uranium import dependence is a case study in how our vital domestic minerals supply chains have atrophied to levels that result in a dire national security risk,” said Rich Nolan, president and chief executive officer of the National Mining Association, in response to the bill. “We are home to the world’s largest fleet of nuclear power plants, significant uranium reserves, and yet we import virtually all of the uranium we use—half of which comes from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. Aggressive action must be taken to address this vulnerability and immediately reinvest in American-sourced, essential mined materials produced under world-leading environmental and labor standards. We applaud Sen. Barrasso for introducing this important legislation to immediately ban the import of Russian uranium.”
Noteworthy: Speaking to the ENR Committee at her March 17 confirmation hearing to head the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Kathryn Huff said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine “puts into stark contrast the importance of our energy security,” adding that “we need to build out the capacity for a Western alternative to the Russian component of the uranium market, including conversion and enrichment capacity.” According to Huff, solutions to the fuel needs of the current reactor fleet and to the need for high-assay low-enriched uranium for an advanced reactor fleet “can be found with sufficient support from appropriations and direction from DOE.”