Barrasso: We Must Reestablish the United States as the Global Leader in Nuclear Energy

March 9, 2023

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 opening remarks at a full committee hearing to examine the nuclear fuel cycle. 

The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Kathryn Huff, assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy; Dr. John Wagner, director of the Idaho National Laboratory; and Mr. Joseph Dominguez, president and chief executive officer of Constellation. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Thanks so much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for holding today’s very important hearing. 

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

“It is also the most reliable – operating over 90 percent of the time. 

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

“It is also critical to global security. 

“The United States generates more electricity from nuclear power than any other nation in the world. 

“We are the global leaders in nuclear technology development. 

“Yet, we are heavily reliant on foreign sources of uranium to fuel our existing nuclear reactors. 

“And we lack the ability to fuel our advanced nuclear reactors. 

“Russia seeks a commanding share of the global nuclear energy market. 

“It wants to undermine America’s nuclear industry.

“And, by several metrics, Russia is succeeding. 

“For decades, Russia has unfairly dumped uranium into our market. 

“It has undercut America’s nuclear fuel producers, driving our companies out of business. 

“American uranium production is now at a level not seen since the 1940s. 

“That is why I’m introducing legislation today with Chairman Manchin and Senators Risch, Heinrich, Lummis, Coons, and Marshall to ban Russian uranium imports. 

“Russia also controls half of the world’s enrichment capacity. 

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

“This is completely unacceptable. 

“We must reestablish the United States as the global leader in nuclear energy. 

“America’s advanced reactor developers are ready to accept the challenge.

“They are making strides in the United States and around the world to deploy their innovative reactors. 

“This includes TerraPower, which will build its first Natrium reactor in my home state of Wyoming. 

“Advanced reactor developers do not want to depend on Russia for their fuel supply. 

“They want to purchase American nuclear fuel. 

“We need to revitalize our nation’s uranium mining industry. 

“U.S. uranium is critical to America’s energy security. 

“It is required for our national security. 

“We need to restart our nation’s lone conversion facility. 

“This is the facility that transforms mined uranium into the form needed for an enrichment plant. 

“We also need to expand uranium enrichment. 

“Thanks to Russia, our one domestic enrichment facility provides just a fraction of the low-enriched uranium needed for America’s existing reactors. 

“We need to protect this facility from Russia’s abusive trade practices. 

“We also need a commercial capability to enrich uranium to the levels needed for advanced reactors. 

“Currently, there are only two sources of high-assay, low-enriched uranium: Russia and the Department of Energy. 

“This has to change. 

“Last year, Chairman Manchin, Senator Risch, and I pursued legislation to accomplish all of these objectives. 

“And in December, the Senate passed that bill by voice vote.

“We reintroduced that legislation last month.  

“We also have work to do on nuclear waste, as the chairman just mentioned. 

“Since the inception of nuclear power, nuclear waste has been safely stored on-site at existing reactors. 

“On-site storage does not meet Congress’s mandate to establish a permanent repository. 

“And American taxpayers are paying dearly for it, as the chairman mentioned. 

“Each day without a permanent waste solution costs taxpayers up to $2 million. 

“At a minimum, we must allow the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to finish its review of the Yucca Mountain license application. 

“Getting past the nuclear waste stalemate is important. 

“We owe it to the taxpayers to move forward with a solution. 

“I want to thank the witnesses for joining us today. 

“I look forward to their testimony.”