Top
Millennium Post

Trump wants $1.5 bn on 10 yrs to revive US uranium mining

Trump wants $1.5 bn on 10 yrs to revive US uranium mining

Salt Lake City (US): The Trump administration is asking Congress for USD 1.5 billion over 10 years to create a new national stockpile of US-mined uranium, saying that propping up US uranium production in the face of cheaper imports is a matter of vital energy security.

But some Democratic lawmakers, and market analysts across the political spectrum, charge that the Trump administration's overall aim is really about helping a few uranium companies that can't compete in the global market.

Demand for the nuclear fuel has languished worldwide since Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster.

US uranium production has plummeted 96 per cent in the last five years, the US Energy Information Administration reported Thursday.

Trump made the request for a new national uranium reserve in his 2021 budget request this week the latest illustration that trying to rescue the US nuclear and coal industries is a political priority for the Republican president, who often invokes national security as justification.

"It's not the responsibility of the taxpayer to bail out an industry, whether that's uranium, solar, coal, what have you, said Katie Tubb, a senior energy policy analyst at the conservative Washington Heritage Foundation. The Energy Department said the plan would boost work for at least a couple of the US West's nearly dormant uranium operations, although residents near one of the mines say they fear an increase in radioactive threats. Whatever Trump does, we'll be standing our ground to let the people know that we're not going to give up, said Yolanda Badback, a resident of White Mesa, a town of about 200 people who are members of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe near a uranium mill in southern Utah.

Trump's plan would need approval from a highly partisan Congress. Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has opposed Trump's effort to make domestic uranium mining a strategic issue, His aides said they needed to see more details from the administration on the stockpile proposal.

Demand for nuclear and coal power sources has fallen against marketplace competition from ever-cheaper natural gas and renewable wind and solar. Trump has been unable to stop a string of coal and nuclear power plant closings.

The US nuclear industry has sought help from the Trump administration, including asking for taxpayer subsidies to promote use of US uranium.

U.S. nuclear power plants in 2018 got 90 per cent of their uranium from Canada, Kazakhstan and other foreign suppliers and only 10 per cent from US mines.

Trump in 2019 rejected a request from U.S. uranium mining operators that he set a minimum quota for domestic uranium. But he agreed to set up a task force of national security, military and other federal officials to look for other ways to revive domestic production of the whole nuclear fuel supply chain. That task force's findings are expected within two weeks.

Trump's budget proposal would be part of an effort to put the United States back in the nuclear game around the world, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told reporters Monday.

While Trump has called propping up U.S. uranium mining essential to national security, the Energy Department acknowledged in its budget presentation that no immediate national security need has been identified" for the uranium reserve.

The same document contends that the funds aren't meant to disrupt market mechanisms.

That is exactly what it is designed to do, said Luke J. Danielson, president of Colorado-based Sustainable Development Strategies Group, which advises foreign governments about mineral policies.

The history of the government of trying to subsidise the energy sector and pick winners and losers is abysmal," Danielson added. Many Democratic lawmakers have challenged Trump's security argument for domestic uranium. Existing uranium reserves and production and trade with allies Australia and Canada were already adequate to securing the US uranium supply, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, a California Democrat, said last year. The Energy Department didn't say which U.S. uranium mines would benefit from the proposal, but the Nuclear Energy Industry trade group pointed to existing mines in Wyoming as likely candidates.

It's a good step to show that the administration recognizes the strategic value of the U.S. nuclear industry, said Nima Ashkeboussi, the group's director of fuel cycles

programmes.

Agencies

Agencies

Our contributor helps bringing the latest updates to you


Next Story
Share it