Since taking office, President Biden and his Administration have caved to extremists on the environmentalist left and sought to undermine the U.S.’s domestic energy production.
Not only is this devastating for our economy and for the families who rely on a thriving American energy industry, but it’s dangerous for our national security. Producing less energy at home means that we are forced to rely on our adversaries for these critical resources, emboldening them and weakening our global standing as they attempt to undermine our interests.
Already this year, the United States hit a 10-year high for imports of Russian oil. Instead of working to reverse this disturbing trend, the Biden Administration threatens to remove uranium from the critical minerals list. This would be a dangerous and misguided decision. Uranium is a vital component to both our national security and energy security, and it’s essential that it remains on the list so we can spur production of this mineral domestically.
According to a 2018 U.S. Geological Survey, “U.S. sourced uranium will be needed in the future to meet defense requirements.” This mineral is also essential to our naval propulsion program and nuclear deterrence, as well as the many modular reactors powering our fleet of aircraft carriers. It is imperative that these national security assets be fueled by uranium that is not subject to the restriction and regulation of foreign nations.
On top of that, tritium production at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) also requires U.S.-developed uranium, as does the continued fueling of other modular and micro-reactors currently in use by our military. The security and resiliency of domestically produced uranium would provide additional power sources for military facilities and would help to level the playing field against the production of this mineral by foreign vendors. Without renewed federal investment in a healthy nuclear fuel cycle and infrastructure that includes domestic uranium production, we risk jeopardizing defense capabilities and giving deference to adversaries in the face of emerging military technologies.
Supporting uranium also benefits our energy industry. The same USGS report cited above also emphasizes the importance of ensuring “a reliable supply of fuel for the 94 commercial nuclear power reactors that supply about 20 percent of U.S. electricity.” Since domestic uranium production has almost completely idled, the source of uranium for these reactors has increasingly become foreign state-owned entities, which are subsidized, and not susceptible to market price fluctuations. In fact, price-insensitive imports from Russia and its allies are now approaching half of U.S. reactor demand, and China is aggressively expanding its own share of global uranium markets. This significant import reliance is another reason why uranium must be revived domestically, and that starts with keeping it on the critical minerals list.
To preserve our national and energy security, we must advance policies that support the nuclear fuel cycle. Restoring and securing American uranium production is required if we are going to succeed in this mission, and keeping it as a resource on the critical minerals list will go a long way to attaining that goal.
Removing uranium, as the Biden Administration is proposing, is another sign that they are willing to bend to the whims of environmental groups at the expense of our interests. We cannot continue to rely on unfriendly nations that leverage energy dominance for geopolitical influence. Removing uranium from the critical minerals list would only exacerbate this disturbing trend.
• Liz Cheney is an American attorney and politician who has been the U.S. Representative for Wyoming’s at-large congressional district since 2017.