The U.S. uranium industry is roaring back to life the week before President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on hopes the incoming administration will roll back mining regulations.
Uranium prices increased 22.5 percent in the last week over optimism Trump will repeal policies hurting the U.S. industry imposed under President Barack Obama. On top of that, the U.S. uranium industry’s biggest competitor, Kazakhstan, plans to cut uranium production 10 percent.
These events triggered a surge in uranium company stock prices. The value of Cameco, one of the biggest uranium companies, shot up from $7.50 a share in November to more than $11 a share.
The uranium industry’s well-being is heavily tied to how federal agencies regulate nuclear power plants. Industry experts suspect Trump will be extremely pro-nuclear and limit strict Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
Another factor to consider is the departure of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid — the main political force behind keeping nuclear waste from being stored at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Without Yucca, nuclear plants don’t have a permanent site to store spent fuel.
America operates 99 nuclear reactors across 61 commercially operating nuclear power plants, according to the Energy Information Administration. The average plant employs between 400 and 700 highly skilled workers, has a payroll of about $40 million and contributes $470 million to the local economy, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.
Environmentalists and left-wing politicians used alleged environmental risks to cripple the American uranium industry, allowing foreign producers, especially Kazakhstan and Russia, to flood the American uranium market. As a result, American uranium mining was on the decline due to extremely strict regulations, with fewer new holes drilled and expenditures for new land, exploration, and drilling declining 22 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
This caused 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. Kazakhstan alone now supplies 23 percent of the uranium for America’s nuclear reactors, according to the EIA.
Representatives from the nuclear and uranium industries previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation that they were repeatedly targeted with hostile regulations by federal agencies. The nuclear industry’s biggest problem, “has been negative sentiment rather than real fundamentals, but the Trump presidency will see through that,” according to the energy market site OilPrice.com.
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