The Trump administration may soon push for more uranium mining in the Colorado Plateau, arguing the mineral is critical for national security. The potential move prompted criticism from Democrats during a hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources on Tuesday.
“Arbitrarily classifying uranium as a critical mineral and declaring it a matter of national security is just a way for the Trump administration to speed up new mine permitting and prop up the declining uranium mining industry,” said subcommittee chairman Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.).
In 2017, 93% of the uranium used by U.S. nuclear reactors was imported from foreign countries. In 2018, the U.S. Interior Department listed the mineral as one of 35 commodities that were deemed essential for the economic and national safety of the U.S.
That same year, energy producers Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. and Ur-Energy USA Inc. requested that the U.S. Department of Commerce begin requiring power plants to source at least a quarter of their uranium from domestic mines.
“Today we face a serious crisis because the domestic industry that produces this key ingredient for the nation’s defense and critical infrastructure is threatened by imports from state-sponsored producers in Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and China,” the producers wrote in their petition.
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