Our sources are telling us that President Trump is nearing a decision on how to revive the all-but-dormant American uranium industry. This proposed plan would create a reserve of domestically-mined uranium and stored in a “Federal Uranium Security Stockpile.” One option on the table is for the Department of Defense to purchase uranium through the 1950 Defense Production Act.
The president concluded in July that: “The United States requires domestically produced uranium to satisfy DOD requirements for maintaining effective military capabilities,” including the Navy’s nuclear fleet.
Uranium is used for America’s nuclear arsenal as well as domestic nuclear power plants. The U.S. reactor fleet purchased about 40 million pounds of uranium last year. But American production of uranium has fallen steadily over the last 30 years and the nuclear power industry now gets 90 percent of its uranium through imports from nations like Canada, Australia, Russia and Kazakhstan. Only a few small American mines remain open.
The Trump administration’s assessment is that the risk of any shortage or uranium and the attendant disruption to security and nuclear power production would be far higher to the American economy than the cost of building a domestic reserve — which is estimated at $1 billiion to $1.5 billion over the next decade.
While we believe this solution is far from ideal because it imposes new costs on taxpayers, this plan is superior to what many in government and in the uranium industry were seeking, which was tariffs on imported uranium or a 25 percent domestic market quota on foreign imports.
These kinds of trade barriers would have potentially incited retaliatory actions from foreign nations while raising prices of uranium used by U.S. nuclear power plants. This would only make nuclear energy a more expensive power source at a time when natural gas is very cheap and when the nuclear industry is struggling to compete with multi-billions of dollars of government subsidies to the wind and solar industries.
But it is equally important that while establishing this reserve, President Trump endorse and set in place longer-term solutions that would not cost taxpayers a penny. At the top of that list is for the feds and state governments to remove the thicket of regulatory barriers to domestic mining of dozens of minerals and rare Earth metals. These resources are necessary for everything from cellphones to medical equipment to satellites to high-powered electric batteries.
Source: Washington Times