The House last Monday passed a bill that would ban most imports of Russian uranium as part of Congress’ efforts to place additional pressure on Moscow over its war in Ukraine, Reuters reported.
The bill, which includes waivers in case of domestic supply shortages, must still pass the Senate before it can be sent to President Biden for his signature. However, it is uncertain whether the Senate will be able to pass the measure before the end of the year.
The House bill, which passed by a voice vote after suspending usual voting rules on the measure, would take effect 90 days after the measure becomes law.
The House version includes waivers that would allow the import of low-enriched Russian uranium in the event the Energy Secretary determines that there is no alternate source available for the operation of a US nuclear reactor or if the shipments are deemed in the national interests.
In a floor speech before last Monday’s vote, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the sponsor of the bill, said the risks from US dependence on Russian uranium “are simply too great.” She argued that it has weakened the country’s “nuclear fuel infrastructure” which has significantly declined due to the US’s “reliance on these cheap fuels.”
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the US banned imports of Russian oil and imposed a price cap on sea-borne exports of Russian crude oil and oil products. However, it did not move to ban the import of uranium.
In 2022, nuclear power plants in the US imported around 12 percent of their uranium from Russia, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Only 5 percent of the uranium used domestically in 2022 was from the United States. By comparison, Canada gets 27 percent of its uranium from Russia.