U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was joined by Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) in introducing legislation to ban imports of Russian uranium.

“The time is now to permanently remove all Russian energy from the American marketplace,” said Senator Barrasso. “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.”

“It is absolutely imperative that we cut off all Russian imports, including uranium. Every dollar we send to Russia is a dollar used to continue to attack innocent people in Ukraine. Wyoming has more than enough uranium to fill this gap, and we can mine it in a more environmentally friendly and safe way,” said Senator Lummis.

“Imports from Russia and its allies, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, account for nearly half of the uranium powering the United States’ nuclear plants. This high level of dependence on foreign uranium was threatening our national interest and national security before Russia invaded Ukraine, now it’s simply unacceptable. This is a country that has repeatedly shown a willingness to weaponize their energy exports for geopolitical advantage, and have used those profits to finance their aggressive and unprovoked war against the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Enough is enough – energy independence means energy independence and that must include uranium,” said Senator Marshall.

“Uranium is an important energy source and yet another example of how the U.S. needs to shore up our critical supply chains. Unfortunately, rather than producing and re-establishing our domestic uranium enrichment capacity, we have relegated our leadership and the revenue profits to Russia and its allies. Our bill is an impetus to change by banning the import of uranium from Russia and cutting off another avenue which funds Putin’s unwarranted and unprovoked violent war on Ukraine,” said Senator Cramer.

“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 CEO, National Mining Association. “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 Senator Barrasso for introducing this important legislation to immediately ban the import of Russian uranium.”

“Russia has cultivated American reliance on Russian nuclear fuel for some time, posing a dangerous threat to our energy and national security that has taken on new urgency,” said Scott Melbye, President of the Uranium Producers of America and Executive Vice President of Uranium Energy Corp. “We can no longer tolerate this nuclear fuel dependence or the flow of U.S. dollars for uranium purchases that prop up the Putin regime. The U.S. has ample uranium resources and the capacity to produce them at the highest global standards. The domestic uranium industry stands ready to work with U.S. utilities and other Western uranium suppliers to ensure every single domestic reactor will be able to maintain operations as the U.S. economy increasingly relies on clean nuclear power.”

Read the legislation here.

Background:

On December 1, 2021, during the Opening Plenary of the American Nuclear Society’s Winter Meeting, Barrasso warned against reliance on Russia to fuel advanced nuclear reactors and called for the Department of Energy to take immediate action to ensure a domestic nuclear fuel supply.

On March 25, 2021, the Senate Energy Committee held a hearing that highlighted opportunities to strengthen U.S. competitiveness in nuclear energy, including by reinvigorating our domestic nuclear fuel supply chain.

On December 21, 2020, Congress passed a government funding bill that included key provisions from Barrasso’s bipartisan bill to extend and expand limits on Russian uranium imports. It also included $75 million in funding for a national uranium reserve.

On September 14, 2020, Barrasso released a statement on the Department of Commerce’s preliminary deal to limit Russian uranium imports through 2040. The Department of Commerce previously found the Russian Federation was undercutting the uranium market, which harms America’s uranium producers.

On May 20, 2020, Barrasso and Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mike Braun (R-IN), Tom Udall (D-NM), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sent a letter to Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Kessler calling on the department to extend the Russian Suspension Agreement (RSA), as recommended by the Nuclear Fuel Working Group (NFWG).

On July 13, 2019, President Trump established the NFWG following his final decision regarding the Section 232 investigation. The NFWG was tasked with giving recommendations to the president on how to reinvigorate domestic nuclear fuel production.

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