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Russian uranium import ban teed up for US house floor vote

7th December 2023

By: Bloomberg

  

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Legislation that would bar the import of enriched Russian uranium into the US has been teed up for a vote in the US House of Representatives.

The Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act, by Washington Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, has been scheduled for consideration next week under an expedited procedure that requires two-thirds majority to pass, according to the House floor schedule.

Support for a ban on the import of nuclear reactor fuel from Russia is growing among both Democrats and Republicans following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Its backers have been seeking to attach the measure to must-pass legislation, according to people familiar with the matter. House passage of a standalone bill would set up the opportunity pass the same legislation in the Senate.

Russia supplied almost a quarter of the enriched uranium used to fuel America’s fleet of more than 90 commercial reactors, making it the No. 1 supplier to the US last year, according to Energy Department data.

The legislation, which would bar Russian uranium imports 90 days after enactment while allowing a temporary waiver until January 2028, was approved by a House committee in May. A Senate panel approved similar legislation, which has the backing of both West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin and Wyoming Republican John Barrasso, who serve as the top lawmakers on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The House legislation would increase the cost of nuclear fuel in the US by 13%, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Congressional budget estimators.

The bill would “restrict access to relatively low-cost Russian enrichment services and cause disruptions in the market for nuclear fuel, thereby increasing the average price of fuel for US nuclear reactors and lowering their average operating margins,” the Congressional Budget Office said in its analysis of the bill.

The Biden administration has requested more than $2-billion from Congress to increase the US’s domestic enrichment capabilities. That includes both highly enriched uranium, needed for a new breed of advanced reactors, and low-enriched uranium, which is used as fuel by traditional nuclear plants.

Edited by Bloomberg

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