Newhouse, Pfluger Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Secure Domestic Critical Mineral Supply
Bill paves way for inclusion of uranium, other fuel minerals on critical minerals list
Washington, June 13, 2022 | Elizabeth Daniels (202-280-8720)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04) and Rep. August Pfluger (TX-11) introduced the Critical Minerals Classification Improvement Act to secure a domestic supply of critical minerals. The bipartisan legislation is also supported by Reps. Henry Cuellar (TX-28) and Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15). The bill strikes the “non-fuel” requirement from the critical minerals definition to allow for minerals that have both fuel and non-fuel uses – like uranium – to be included on the list. It also requires a revision of the list by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to reevaluate and make necessary changes after enactment of the bill.
“It is more important than ever that we secure our domestic supply of critical minerals, and that should absolutely include minerals with both fuel and non-fuel uses like uranium,” said Chairman Newhouse. “The United States cannot afford to rely on foreign countries like Russia, China, or their proxies for minerals that are critical for our energy future and our national security. This legislation is a commonsense reform that will ensure we have the critical minerals we need to thrive as a nation.”
“The United States is blessed with abundant natural resources. Unfortunately, climate alarmists have been fighting against reliable thermal power sources like natural gas and nuclear—leading to short-sighted policies that have crippled American energy independence,” said Rep. Pfluger. “Energy security is national security. We should not be reliant on our foreign adversaries like China and Russia to power our daily life. I am proud to lead this effort with Chairman Newhouse to strengthen America’s domestic energy production.”
The Critical Minerals Classification Improvement Act was introduced with the endorsement of the National Mining Association, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES), U.S. Nuclear Industry Council, Uranium Producers of America, U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, American Exploration & Mining Association, ClearPath Action, and Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI).
Full text of the bill can be found here.
“Our uranium import dependence is a case study in how our vital domestic minerals supply chains have atrophied to levels that result in a dire national security risk. We are home to the world’s largest nuclear navy and fleet of nuclear power plants, significant uranium reserves, and yet we import virtually all of the uranium we use – half of which comes from Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan,” said Rich Nolan, Presidnet & CEO of the National Mining Association. “We must immediately address this glaring vulnerability and source the uranium on which nuclear power functions domestically to prevent this key energy source from being weaponized against our economy. We applaud Representatives Pfluger, Cuellar, Newhouse, and Gonzalez for their efforts to update the definition of what the U.S. Geological Survey determines is a critical mineral to better support our economic, energy, and national security.”
“Uranium is critical as a nuclear fuel for our civilian nuclear power fleet, and securing a steady supply is vital for assuring that the next generation of advanced nuclear reactors can be brought online using a domestically-sourced fuel. It also plays a key role in many non-fuel uses in the tech, healthcare and defense industries,” said Heather Reams, President of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES). “That’s why CRES is glad to see the Critical Minerals Classification Improvement Act introduced by Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse and Reps. Pfluger, Cuellar and Gonzalez, which will allow uranium to be added back onto to the U.S. Geological Survey’s list of critical minerals after the Biden Administration removed it earlier this year.”
“USNIC applauds Congressmen Newhouse, Pfluger, Cuellar, and Gonzalez for their bipartisan recognition of the need for increased US production of Uranium. The attention to this and other issues to return America to its place as a leader in the nuclear field cannot come soon enough,” said Bud Albright, President & CEO of U.S. Nuclear Industry Council.
“That uranium is critical to America’s energy and national security is beyond question and this legislation could not be more timely,” said Scott Melbye, President of the Uranium Producers of America & Executive Vice President of Uranium Energy Corp. “In addition to powering 1 out of every 5 American homes and businesses, uranium powers the nuclear Navy, is indispensable for nuclear deterrence and other military requirements, and is necessary for lifesaving medical applications. Simply put, the Department of the Interior got it wrong when it removed uranium from the critical minerals list. The move sent a dangerous signal at a time that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is putting over half of America’s uranium supply at serious risk. This legislation will require the Department of the Interior to do what it should have done in the first place, determine the critical mineral status of uranium based on the merits and not politics.”
“Expanding the definition of critical minerals to include both fuel and non-fuel sources is necessary to expand our energy independence, increase our national security and strengthen the struggling supply chain,” said Ruth Demeter, Senior Director of Policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Energy Institute. “This legislation corrects a missed opportunity for the federal government to analyze our foreign dependence on materials such as uranium from major exporters such as Russia. We commend Representatives Newhouse, Pfluger, Cuellar, and Gonzalez for their bipartisan leadership and look forward to working with them on this issue.”
“Current geopolitical forces, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, highlight our supply chain vulnerability for several mineral commodities. Our reliance on foreign sources of minerals, often from countries not aligned with U.S. interests or values, comes with severe economic and national security implications,” said Mark Compton, Executive Director of the American Exploration & Mining Association. “The fact is uranium is a critical mineral for both energy and non-energy uses, and we need to treat it as such. It’s essential that we prioritize a strong, secure, and reliable domestic supply chain of the minerals that drive innovation, feed economic growth and improve our nation’s quality of life. We applaud the introduction of this common sense legislation.”