The values that settled and protected America’s West are unwavering and unchanging. In the 33 states and territories of the 75 members of our bipartisan Congressional Western Caucus, we believe in local and regional control of our destiny, not reliance on others.
We fiercely advance energy dominance and independence. And we are committed to securing America’s energy future and national security.
Contradicting these longstanding values is the fact that U.S. utilities rely on foreign sources for 98 percent of the uranium they use to fuel the nuclear power plants that provide 20 percent of our country’s electricity.
Uranium also fuels our nuclear Navy. But instead of buying from the domestic uranium mining companies that once thrived in the West, utilities are enriching adversarial countries like Russia and China.
Following their carefully orchestrated geopolitical plan, Russia and its allies flood the global market with uranium from state-owned companies, making it impossible for America and other free-market economies to compete.
Meanwhile, quietly and gradually, China has been buying up previously free-market uranium mines to control global supply.
Rather than keep good jobs here at home and depend on our own resources to power the electric grid, the U.S. jeopardizes national security by relying on nations that have demonstrated their will to undermine our defense infrastructure and our economy, and to do us harm.
As a result, America’s uranium mining industry is dying. U.S. uranium mining companies produced 721,000 pounds of uranium last year – only enough to fuel one nuclear reactor.
And the uranium mining industries in allied countries, such as Canada and Australia, face the same challenges. Today only one uranium mine operates in Canada, and mines in Australia are slowing production.
Thankfully, the Trump administration has the opportunity to address this threat head-on and put America first.
President Trump shares our values of restoring control of this country’s energy future to Americans. After a nine-month investigation, the Department of Commerce delivered to the White House a confidential report outlining the facts of the uranium trade issue in the U.S.
President Trump is expected to soon decide how to address the threat of uranium imports – a threat that endangers our national and energy security. Our 98 domestic operating nuclear power plant reactors require roughly 50 million pounds of uranium annually.
Nuclear is the cleanest, most reliable energy source in the United States. Domestic production for calendar year 2019 is on pace to be a fraction of 1 percent of total demand and we will import roughly 99 percent of what we need from foreign countries – adversaries Russia, Kazakhstan and China.
We urge President Trump to use his authority to take back from Moscow and Beijing control of America’s nuclear power plants.
Ur-Energy and Energy Fuels – the two Colorado-based companies that requested the Department of Commerce investigation – recommended a quota that reserves a relatively small 25 percent of the U.S. market for the domestic uranium mining industry.
We support this modest request. The companies also support recommendations for a “Buy American” policy for U.S. government entities that use uranium.
It’s just common sense that the federal government shouldn’t be purchasing all our uranium for defense and other government needs from countries like China and Russia.
At a time when extremist organizations and democratic socialists are seeking to undermine the Trump agenda by removing uranium from the critical minerals list – as well as permanently locking away rare earths and critical minerals on million-acre swaths of land, simultaneously killing jobs and increasing our reliance on imports from China and Russia – the contrast couldn’t be more clear.
It is our hope that President Trump’s actions in support of critical minerals, clean energy, American jobs and national security will revitalize the entire domestic fuel cycle, benefit local economies and put America back on the path to reclaiming the important role of global nuclear leadership that has been taken by our strategic adversaries.
It is now or never for America’s uranium mining industry. If there is no action to correct the enormous imbalance in the global uranium market, what is left of domestic mining companies will be finished off.
Those companies still in business have already slashed their workforces, eliminating hundreds of good-paying jobs.
There is no time left to waste. Western Caucus members are watching closely and encouraging President Trump to once again put America’s interests first.
Republican Rep. Rob Bishop represents Utah and Republican Rep. Mark Meadows represents North Carolina in the U.S. House.