The Trump administration will investigate whether or not uranium imports harm national security after two companies petitioned trade officials to review the matter.
“The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security will conduct a thorough, fair, and transparent review to determine whether uranium imports threaten to impair the national security,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced Wednesday.
Uranium producers Energy Fuels Inc. and Ur-Energy Inc. petitioned the Commerce Department in January to investigate the effect state-subsidized imports had on domestic producers. U.S. uranium production has plummeted since the 1980s, meaning more of it is coming from abroad.
Civilian nuclear power plants and U.S. Navy nuclear submarines rely on uranium. Some Republicans have been calling on the Trump administration for months to investigate uranium imports and do what they can to help mining companies.
“For years, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan have undermined America’s uranium producers, including those in my home state of Wyoming,” Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso said in a statement.
Barrasso has also called on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to investigate the effects of uranium imports on domestic production. (RELATED: The Battle To Repeal An Obama-Era Regulation On Trucks Heats Up)
“We shouldn’t rely on foreign regimes to supply America with uranium. Ensuring our nation’s uranium producers can compete on a level playing field is critical to our national and energy security,” Barrasso said.
The Wyoming Republican also got Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to agree to stop selling off excess government-owned uranium supplies for at least the rest of the year. Perry agreed after Barrasso held up a key Energy Department political appointment.
Wyoming is a major uranium mining state and accounts for most of the jobs associated with that production. Both Energy Fuels Inc. and Ur-Energy Inc. have uranium operations in Wyoming.
This isn’t the first action the Trump administration has taken on behalf of uranium miners. The administration released its finalized list of critical minerals in May, which included uranium. The list contained Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s call to “expedite access” for miners.
Also on Zinke’s critical mineral list was aluminum, which the Trump administration finalized tariffs for earlier in 2018.
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