Calls to increase domestic output come as Russian President Vladimir Putin threatens to cut off exports in response to sanctions.
Enriched uranium is critical fuel for nuclear-power plants, and Russia enriches more uranium for that purpose than any other country in the world. Its ongoing war with Ukraine and talk of additional sanctions has exposed the globe’s dependency on a limited number of countries for the supply.
Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) represents one of the US’s main uranium-producing states. He filed legislation to ban Russian imports, calling the US dependance on foreign uranium “simply unacceptable.
Nuclear power currently provides about 20% of US electricity generation. Like oil, uranium prices have jumped more than 30% since the invasion. Proponents of nuclear energy generation are worried about the future of small modular reactors, considered the future of the industry and a cheaper, cleaner alternative source of energy more efficient than trendier “green” alternatives.
A trade agreement limits US imports of Russian uranium to no more than 20% of what domestic reactors need, but no other country could make up that amount in a short time frame. However, US plants refuel in 18-24 month supplies and do so 2-3 years in advance, so there is time to reconfigure supply chains if a source can be found.