The Department of Energy is putting together a national uranium supply strategy, energy secretary Jennifer Granholm told lawmakers last week at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
Granholm was appearing before the committee to discuss the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal for the DOE.
“We should not be sending any money to Russia for any American energy or for any other reason,” she declared in response to a question from Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), the panel’s ranking member, on whether the White House would impose a ban on Russian uranium in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine. “We have stood up at DOE, under [Kathryn Huff], a tiger team to develop a full uranium strategy. We want to make sure, for example, that we are able to supply both HALEU as well as low-enriched uranium to our civilian nuclear fleet. And if we move away from Russia right away, we want to make sure we have the ability to continue to keep the fleet afloat. So [the DOE team is] developing a full-on uranium strategy that’s going through the interagency process, and we look forward to briefing you on that.”
According to the secretary, Congress will likely be briefed on the strategy “within the month.”
Granholm also told Barrasso that her department would begin to make direct purchases of domestically mined and converted uranium this calendar year to establish a strategic uranium reserve. (While Congress provided $75 million in FY 2021 for the reserve, the DOE has yet to purchase any uranium.)
In case you missed it: On March 16, Barrasso introduced S. 3856, a bill to prohibit the importation of Russian uranium to the United States, with three of his fellow GOP lawmakers as cosponsors—Sens. Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Cynthia Lummis (R., Wyo.), and Roger Marshall (R., Kan.).
And on April 7, he introduced the Fueling Our Nuclear Future Act of 2022, a measure that would ensure a domestic supply of HALEU for advanced reactors by directing the DOE to prioritize establishing a domestic HALEU enrichment capability and to use enriched uranium held by the DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration to fuel advanced reactor demonstrations until U.S. commercial enrichment is available. The bill explicitly excludes uranium sourced or processed by any entity owned or controlled by the governments of Russia and China.