America’s uranium industry has been absolutely devastated by Department of Energy (DOE) decisions and political maneuvering by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and individuals closely tied to her.
To get a better understanding of what it’s like when the government decides to destroy your industry, The Daily Caller News Foundation sat down with Harry Anthony, president of the Uranium Producers of America.
“When I got into this industry in 1976, the uranium extraction industry employed 35,000 people. Today, I’m guessing that fewer than 500 people in this country are involved in it,” Anthony told TheDCNF. “20 percent of our electrical power is dependent on those 500 people, that’s every fifth light-bulb. We’re now producing enough uranium to power 4 or 5 of our nuclear reactors, that’s 94 dependent on foreign uranium.”
The industry’s problems began when DOE offices started selling uranium to fund operations and dumped it into the marketplace at incredibly low prices. This lowers the price of uranium, which means taxpayer don’t even make much money off the sale. As the price of uranium has fallen, the government agency sold more uranium to make up the difference. This continued to push the price down.
Since 2011, DOE has sold off roughly $1 billion of publicly-owned uranium through private sellers without overseeing the transactions, and research by the Government Accountability Office found DOE did not did not properly value uranium sales or adequately assess any impact on the commercial uranium market.
“What the DOE is doing is no different from selling a lot of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve when oi prices are low and unemployment is high in the oil industry,” Anthony explained.
The uranium industry’s other major problem: major Democratic politicians like Clinton.
While Clinton was secretary of state, the department approved the sale of approximately 20 percent of U.S. uranium production capacity to Russian-controlled companies, including Uranium One. Uranium One’s chairman donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to The New York Times. The donation was not publicly disclosed.
Uranium One is deeply tied to the government of Kazakhstan and has received substantial concessions and perks from that government. Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who chaired Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, has been citing environmental concerns to prevent America’s largest uranium deposit from being mined since 2013, boosting Uranium One’s market share and profits. Uranium mining is extremely heavily regulated by numerous state and federal agencies.
If McAuliffe had allowed mining, Virginia Uranium, which owns the potential mining site, would have created an estimated 1,052 jobs and created $5 billion in revenue for Virginia companies. The average annual salary of these jobs would have been around $65,000, according to the company’s website. Instead, the business venture is still stuck on the ground.
“Gov. McAuliffe’s opposition to a vibrant domestic uranium industry makes no sense, unless his friend Hillary Clinton is making money off of foreign owned companies doing the mining,” Matt Welch, a consultant to uranium mining companies, told TheDCNF.
In 2013, McAuliffe threatened to veto legislation to end the 33-year-old moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia, citing worries mining could harm drinking water quality. The governor even refused to develop uranium mining regulations. Virginia Uranium is suing McAuliffe over his decision not to allow uranium mining. The company argues uranium regulations are the purview of the federal government, not the states.
“This moratorium went into effect right after Three Mile Island and is still a thing due to politics” Anthony told TheDCNF. “It is unfortunate that Virginia isn’t taking advantage of a valuable natural resource that could have a potentially massive economic impact for the state. It should be a no brainer.”
DOE and McAuliffe’s actions have allowed foreign producers, especially Kazakhstan and Russia, to dominate the American market. Kazakhstan alone now supplies 23 percent of the uranium for America’s nuclear reactors, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). American uranium mining is on the decline, with fewer new holes being drilled and expenditures for new land, exploration, and drilling declining 22 percent, according to the EIA.
“Kazakhstan has the full support of their government behind their industry. Environmentally and regulatory wise, they can get stuff done faster than we can,” Anthony concluded. “They don’t have to do things like reclamation and restoration like we do. We can still compete with them when the market is fair, but we currently have the oversupply coming from the Department of Energy.”
American commercial nuclear reactors doubled their purchases of Kazakhstani uranium in 2014, largely due to the decline in the amount of the American uranium industry.
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