USNIC Letter to Congress in Support for HALEU

USNIC Letter to Congress in Support for HALEU

To:

The Honorable Joe Manchin III
Chairman
Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources
306 Hart  Senate Office Building
Washington,  DC. 20510

The Honorable  John Barrasso
Ranking Member
Senate  Committee on Energy & Natural Resources
307 Hart  Senate Office Building
Washington,  DC. 20510

 

Dear Chairman Manchin and Ranking Member Barrasso:

I write on behalf of the United States Nuclear Industry Council (USNIC) in support of America’s efforts to maintain progress and regain a leading role in the deployment and use of clean, safe, and efficient nuclear power.  

A vitally important element of these efforts is ensuring a sufficiently robust domestic supply of safe and reliable uranium fuel suppliers to power both legacy nuclear power operations and our burgeoning advanced nuclear technologies.  While the U.S. is leading the world in the development of advanced nuclear technologies, a critical element in the success of these efforts is related to the availability of high assay low enriched uranium, otherwise known as “HALEU.”  While the Department of Energy is engaged in limited efforts to supply this material, in the absence of a more aggressiveU.S. policy in support of a robust domestic supply of HALEU, many developers may be forced to seek this material from Russia, which is one of the few readily available sources of this fuel.  From a public policy standpoint, this not only places the U.S. at a commercial disadvantage, but much more importantly is a direct threat toAmerican and international security.

Congress has before it numerous provisions that can change this paradigm.  The United States stands at the precipice of being able to deploy the world’s leading advanced nuclear technologies and the efforts of Congress to fund these activities have been a vital part of this success.  This high level of government support will be for naught if our nation cannot supply the higher enrichments of fuel needed for most of these game changing technologies.  Congress must act now to ensure that U.S.technology developers are not put at the mercy of international sources ofHALEU that may not have the best interest of the United States in mind.

Accordingly,America must support and incentivize commercial HALEU production in the UnitedStates by, at a minimum, providing a guaranteed customer for HALEU.  America cannot advance our nuclear technology if the game of “chicken or egg” is allowed to continue (i.e. not build HALEU fuel supply until advanced reactors orders are firm, which is not likely to happen until HALEU fuel supply is certain). America must signal unequivocally that the production of domestically produced HALEU has a vibrant commercial market, and that the United States is committed to advancing and winning competition for a secure and safe nuclear energy future.

Instructively, in a recent July 2021 survey of the vast majority of the major U.S. advanced nuclear technology developers, the clear question was asked, “What keeps you up at night?”  The response to the open-ended question was telling: “Availability of HALEU fuel” led the responses by a wide margin.

As long as U.S. developers share the number-one concern that HALEU fuel may not be available for the advanced nuclear technologies they are developing, America’s ability to compete in a strategically important global market will not be realized.

Numerous letters and other communications advocating for the future of America’s leadership in advanced nuclear technology have been sent.  They help make the technical case for support from Congress to elevate America’s standing in the area of nuclear advancement.  USNIC applauds and supports the points made in these various communications, and stands ready to support both Congress, and American interests generally, as we move towards a new, safe, and clean nuclear future.  

We are at a critical, and pivotal, point in the future of America’s relevance int he future of advanced nuclear technology. The U.S. government could be the purchaser of HALEU for a strategicHALEU reserve (or HALEU “bank”), which would sell HALEU for future U.S.advanced nuclear power facilities.   On behalf of nearly all of the private sector engaged in an effort to ensureAmerica’s preeminence in advanced nuclear technology, I urge your support of funding for HALEU production to allow HALEU availability as we expand our efforts to reassert U.S. preeminence in advancing secure, clean, and reliable nuclear energy, and U.S. leadership in this vital technology for the future.  

 

Sincerely,

Bud Albright

President& CEO

U.S.Nuclear Industry Council (USNIC)

 

CC:

The Honorable Frank Pallone, Jr.

The Honorable Cathy McMorris Rodgers

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein

The Honorable John Kennedy

The Honorable Marcy Kaptur

The Honorable Mike Simpson

The Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson

The Honorable Frank Lucas