Barrasso: We Must Secure America’s Position as the Global Leader in Nuclear Energy

March 17, 2022

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 nominations hearing. 

The hearing featured testimony from Dr. Kathryn Huff, nominee to be assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy at the Department of Energy.  

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman, and thank you for calling this nomination hearing. 

“I do concur with your statement as well as your assessment of Dr. Huff. 

“Dr. Huff, it’s great to see you again – welcome to the committee. 

“You’ve been nominated to serve as assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy at the Department of Energy. 


“I really enjoyed our conversation last October during Nuclear Science Week. 

“Dr. Huff appears to be very well qualified for this position. 

“She holds a PhD in nuclear engineering. 

“Before joining the Department, Dr. Huff was an assistant professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

“Dr. Huff has also worked with the Argonne, Idaho, and Los Alamos national labs. 

“I look forward to hearing more about her views on how the Department can make America energy dominant again.

“Nuclear technology is essential to meeting America’s energy, environmental, and our national security objectives. 

“We need to be looking for opportunities to expand our use of nuclear energy.

“Innovation will be key to re-establishing America’s global leadership in this sector. 

“If confirmed, Dr. Huff will lead this effort as well. 

“The Office of Nuclear Energy oversees the federal government’s efforts to develop nuclear energy technology. 

“The office also plays an important role in informing the public about nuclear technology. 

“Now more than ever, we need well-qualified leadership in place at the Office of Nuclear Energy. 

“Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, was followed by its assault on Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. 

“The assault has generated significant public concern about the safety of Ukraine’s reactors at a time of war. 

“Russia’s aggression reemphasizes our government’s need for nuclear experts. 

“They must understand highly technical issues. 

“And they must be capable of explaining them to the public. 

“This is an important job requirement for the assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy. 

“I hope Dr. Huff can give us insight into the condition of Ukraine’s nuclear reactors as we get into the questions and answers. 

“Last week, President Biden followed the lead of Congress and finally banned the imports of Russian oil, natural gas, and coal. 

“But he did not ban the imports of Russian uranium to the United States. 

“Russia is our third largest supplier of uranium, meeting 16 percent of U.S. demand. 

“We need to eliminate our dependence on Russian uranium. 

“I introduced legislation this week to do just that. 

“We also need to jump start American uranium production. 

“That includes mining, conversion, and enrichment services.

“In December 2020, Congress gave the Department $75 million to establish a strategic uranium reserve. 

“The Department of Energy has yet to purchase uranium from U.S. producers. 

“I believe we need that action now. 

“If confirmed, Dr. Huff’s first order of business should be to work with the Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration to accelerate these purchases.

“We also need immediate action to develop an American supply of high-assay, low-enriched uranium. 

“This is the fuel needed for advanced nuclear reactors, like TerraPower’s Natrium reactor, which will be built in my home state of Wyoming. 

“It is also needed for X-energy’s advanced reactor, in Senator Cantwell’s home state of Washington. 

“There are only two sources of high-assay, low-enriched uranium in the world: Russia and the U.S. Department of Energy. 

“We cannot allow America’s advanced reactor developers to be dependent on Russia. 

“I intend to introduce legislation to: first, ensure the Department is taking the steps necessary to establish domestic enrichment; and second, make DOE-produced high-assay, low-enriched uranium available. 

“It is the only way to avoid dependence on Russia. 

“Dr. Huff – if you are confirmed – I hope we can work together on this legislation. 

“I look forward to hearing your testimony today. 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.”