Manchin, Committee Consider Nuclear Energy Nominee

Manchin: I believe Dr. Huff is up to the task of leading the Office of Nuclear Energy

March 17, 2022

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to consider the nomination of Dr. Kathryn Huff to be an Assistant Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Energy. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee, underscored the need to preserve and expand the United States’ nuclear fleet, highlighting that nuclear energy is critical to providing reliable power and addressing climate change.

“Our nuclear program is in decline, and has been for some time. After peaking 10 years ago with 104 operating reactors, our nuclear fleet is now down to 93 operating reactors. Most reactors are over 40 years old. Only two new nuclear power plants have been built and come online since the Three Mile Island accident over 40 years ago, and only two more are still under construction,” Chairman Manchin said. “But we cannot afford to give up on nuclear power. We cannot meet our climate goals and meet our energy needs without it. We cannot afford to eliminate our existing fleet of nuclear reactors. But they will not last forever, an­­d must be replaced by new, safer and more affordable reactor designs.”

During the hearing, Dr. Huff highlighted her support of the commercial deployment of advanced nuclear reactors in locations and communities across the country, including at retiring coal plant sites. Dr. Huff also committed to Chairman Manchin that, if confirmed, she will work to “help the United States bolster and reclaim its global leadership in nuclear energy.”

Chairman Manchin also highlighted the risks Russian uranium poses to our domestic fleet and questioned Dr. Huff on the importance of reducing American dependence on Russian uranium conversion and enrichment capabilities.

“I believe it is critical for our national security to build out our conversion and enrichment infrastructure to meet the needs of our domestic reactor fleet. Do you believe the U.S. should invest heavily in building out this infrastructure to eliminate our dependence on Russia for nuclear fuel, and can we do it fast enough?” asked Chairman Manchin.

“I completely agree that it is really prescient. The Russian invasion of Ukraine puts into stark contrast the importance of our energy security. I completely agree that we need to build out capacity for a Western alternative to the Russian component of the uranium market, including conversion and enrichment capacity. I do believe that a solution to not only the current fleet’s needs for uranium as well as high-assay low-enriched uranium for our advanced reactor fleet can be solved with sufficient support from appropriations and direction from the Department of Energy,” said Dr. Huff.

To read Dr. Huff’s testimony, please click here.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.