Uranium not included in US ban on Russian energy imports
President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian energy imports to the United States, however, Reuters reported that the ban does not include uranium for nuclear power plants.
Citing a source familiar with the situation, Reuters reported that the United States would ban the import of oil, natural gas and coal from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. However, a White House document released after Biden announced the oil ban and summarizing the Russian sanctions did not mention uranium, confirming reporting from Reuters.
The U.S. power industry relies on Russia and its allies Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for roughly half of the uranium powering its nuclear power plants. The industry has been lobbying the White House to continue to allow uranium imports from Russia despite Moscow’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
There is no current U.S. uranium production or processing, though several companies have said they would like to resume domestic production in Texas or Wyoming if nuclear power producers sign long-term supply contracts.
Russia’s uranium production is controlled by Rosatom, a state-run company formed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2007. The company is an important source of revenue for Moscow, and exempting U.S. uranium imports is likely to fuel continued questions about how American businesses are financially supporting Russia’s economy.
The National Energy Institute (NEI), a trade group of U.S. nuclear power generators, said it supports development of an American uranium industry.
“U.S. utilities contract with a worldwide network of companies and countries for their fuel requirements to mitigate the risks of potential disruption,” said Nima Ashkeboussi, NEI’s senior director of fuel and radiation safety.
The U.S. Congress has been paying more attention to Russia’s prowess as a global producer of uranium and other metals.
“We need to look at alternative sources (for uranium), including in the United States,” Senator Dan Sullivan, an Alaska Republican, told Reuters on the sidelines of the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston this week.