House Passes Bill Mandating The Purchase Of Domestic Nuclear Fuel

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Nick Pope Contributor
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The House passed legislation Thursday that requires the U.S. to purchase tons of domestic nuclear reactor fuel, according to Bloomberg News.

The mandate for purchasing domestic uranium was included as a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and it passed by a bipartisan 310-118 vote, according to Bloomberg. The provision would require the Department of Energy (DOE) to purchase about 20 tons of highly-enriched nuclear reactor fuel from American companies by the end of 2027.

The provision is part of a larger bipartisan effort to reduce the country’s reliance on Russia for uranium, and it will head to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature with the rest of the NDAA. Russia currently supplies about 24% of the enriched uranium that the U.S. uses, making it the largest foreign supplier, according to Bloomberg. (RELATED: Here Are The Three Senate Dems That Voted Against An Amendment To Boost US Uranium Independence)

Billions of dollars that would fund the effort are currently in limbo in the Senate because Republicans shot down a Ukraine support bill that included the funds for the nuclear fuel initiative this week, according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, the House has already passed a different bill that would ban the importation of all Russian uranium after 2028; the bill is still pending in the Senate.

Despite the bipartisan consensus that the U.S. should reduce its dependence on Russian uranium, the Biden administration moved in August to designate nearly 1 million uranium-rich acres near the Grand Canyon as a national monument, meaning that the land covered by the designation cannot be utilized for mining.

The Russian uranium ban bill could drive uranium prices up significantly in the U.S., according to Bloomberg. It is unclear whether the purchase program mandated by the NDAA will apply downward pressure on those prices.

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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