Barrasso: We Must Ensure American Technologies are Leading the Global Expansion of Nuclear Energy

March 25, 2021

Click here to watch Ranking Member Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered the following remarks at a full committee hearing on nuclear energy. 

The hearing featured testimony from Jeffrey Lyash, president and CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority; Chris Levesque, president and CEO of TerraPower; Scott Melbye, president of Uranium Producers of America and executive vice president of the Uranium Energy Corporation; Amy Roma, founding member of the Atlantic Council’s Nuclear Energy and National Security Coalition and partner at Hogan Lovells; and J. Clay Sell, CEO of X-energy. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Now more than ever, Washington must advance policies to preserve and expand the use of nuclear energy. 

“Nuclear technology is fundamental to meeting our energy, environmental, and national security goals. 

“Nuclear power is our nation’s largest source of carbon-free electricity. 

“It’s critical to reliable electricity, resilient electricity, and affordable electric service. 

“During last month’s cold snap, nuclear power plants – by one key metric – outperformed all other energy sources. 

“For the last 75 years, America’s nuclear energy industry has been the world’s leader in safety and as well as performance. 

“We need to ensure our leadership endures. 

“As we speak, America’s adversaries – Russia and China – seek to undermine our nuclear industry. 

“Russia and its satellites have intentionally dumped uranium into our market. 

“They undercut American uranium producers and processors. 

“They drive our companies out of business. 

“America’s uranium production so low, it’s now at a level not seen since the 1940s.

“We are on the brink of finding ourselves completely reliant on foreign uranium to power our nuclear power plants.

“This is unacceptable. 

“The Biden administration must take decisive action to prevent this from happening. 

“Last year, Congress appropriated $75 million to establish a national uranium reserve. 

“This year, Secretary Granholm should complete the establishment of the reserve, begin a purchasing program, and buy American-produced uranium. 

“We must maintain our ability to produce and process our own uranium. 

“In addition to losing our uranium producers, we are also losing our nuclear reactors. 

“We currently have 94 operating nuclear reactors. 

“These reactors provide 20 percent of our nation’s electricity. 

“Since 2013, 11 reactors have shut down. 

“Even more are scheduled to retire by 2025, including five this year. 

“Many of these plants could safely remain online for decades. 

“While the reasons for these closures may be complex, too often the result is that carbon emissions go up nationally and electric reliability goes down. 

“That’s why Senators Whitehouse, Crapo, Booker, and I introduced the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act. 

“We did that last Congress. 

“Among other things, the bill would keep reactors at risk of closing prematurely online. 

“Last December, the Environment and Public Works Committee reported this bill with broad bipartisan support. 

“Innovation will also be key to reestablishing America’s leadership in nuclear energy. 

“Two years ago, President Trump signed into law the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act – a bill I introduced, along with Chairman Manchin, Senator Risch, and others. 

“This bill established a network for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to approve advanced nuclear reactor designs. 

“Over the next decade, we expect advanced nuclear technologies to be deployed. 

“New reactors will be safer, smaller, and more efficient. 

“Advanced nuclear reactors will generate less nuclear waste. 

“Some may even run on previously-used nuclear fuel. 

“Advanced nuclear technologies will enable new market opportunities beyond the electricity sector. 

“The heat from advanced nuclear reactors can drive a variety of industrial processes. 

“It can improve the efficiency of chemical and hydrogen production. 

“This heat can clean up wastewater and make saltwater from our oceans usable. 

“Advanced nuclear reactors will also improve access to materials used to diagnose and treat diseases. 

“They will even power missions to space. 

“The world is looking to nuclear power to meet its energy and environmental goals. 

“We must ensure American technologies are leading this global expansion of nuclear energy. 

“American leadership in this sector is critical. 

“It’s critical to ensure nuclear energy is used safely and for peaceful purposes. 

“Today, we will hear directly from industry executives working to maintain our historic leadership in nuclear energy. 

“I look forward to their testimony.”