Cheney: Biden Administration Should Ban Russian Uranium

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said President Joe Biden's administration should ban the import of Russian uranium, she told Wyoming reporters on Wednesday.

Ellen Fike

March 16, 20224 min read

Cheney out

President Joe Biden’s administration should ban the import of Russian uranium, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney told Wyoming reporters on Wednesday.

Cheney, speaking during a telephone conference, said she was working on legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would urge Biden to ban the use of Russian uranium in the United States.

“We need to be clear that the United States cannot be dependent on Russia for uranium,” she said. “We also need to have a uranium reserve. Congress authorized the establishment of a uranium reserved about 18 months ago and we have seen no progress on that.”

She added that the United States need to work on again being capable of enriching its own uranium. While she complimented the Biden administration for moving to ban Russian oil imports, she thought this should be extended to the full energy sector.

TerraPower, the company planning to install a small nuclear reactor in Kemmerer, told Cowboy State Daily last month that it has no choice but to fuel its plant with nuclear fuel rods from Russia, but company officials said they are also working to cultivate domestic uranium sources.

“We can’t be dependent on our adversary, either for the production of uranium or its enrichment,” Cheney said Wednesday. “In Wyoming, we’re really blessed with tremendous uranium reserves and we need to be sure we’re utilizing Wyoming uranium, not Russian.”

A Cheney spokesperson told Cowboy State Daily that the representative has always supported ending the United States’ dependence on Russian uranium.

“Putin’s attack on Ukraine reinforces how critical it is that America stop importing Russian uranium and increase our own domestic production,” the spokesperson said Wednesday. “She has worked to keep uranium on the critical minerals list and establish a uranium reserve. She has urged the Biden administration to immediately stand-up the uranium reserve and take advantage of other feasible paths available to ensure advanced nuclear reactors have access to the uranium they need.”

The spokesperson did not address how TerraPower’s “Natrium” plant would be fueled if Russian uranium imports were banned.

Earlier this week, Gov. Mark Gordon made similar remarks during a news conference.

“Currently our nuclear resources come from Russia, and we need to make sure that we have a domestic source of uranium just like we used to,” he said. “We’re very anxious to see the project move forward. We’re really hoping that this helps to revitalize Wyoming’s very important uranium industry.”

The Natrium power plant, a “next generation” nuclear plant, in slated to be built in Wyoming by 2027 or 2028. The reactor is expected to generate 345 megawatts of power.

The Natrium power plant will use fuel rods manufactured with HALEU metallic fluid. This uranium will allow the reactor to operate more efficiently and reduces the volume of waste produced.

In addition to trying to build up American producers of HALEU, TerraPower is investing in an American company to produce the fuel rods, officials said.

According to project estimates, approximately 2,000 workers will be needed for plant construction at the project’s peak. Once the plant is operational, approximately 250 people will support day-to-day activities, including plant security.

On other issues, Cheney, who spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by Zoom on Wenesday said she was impressed with the Ukrainian leader’s grace in such a stressful time and added the U.S. needs to back up the Ukraine in its battle with Russia.

“He…showed a video that really illustrated what major Ukrainian cities looked like three or four weeks ago…and it looks like towns all over Wyoming,” she said. “We should make sure we are providing support for the Ukrainians in this battle.”

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Ellen Fike