Big Win For Barrasso As His Ban On Uranium Imports Signed Into Law

An effort spearheaded by Wyoming’s senior Sen. John Barrasso to ban Russian uranium imports was signed by President Joe Biden on Monday. He said the move “officially ended Russia’s chokehold on America’s uranium supply.”

Leo Wolfson

May 14, 20244 min read

Barrasso happy and walking 5 13 24
(Getty Images)

There won’t be any more uranium coming into the United States from Russia anytime in the foreseeable future.

That’s largely thanks to an effort spearheaded by U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, to ban all uranium imports from Russia into America. On Monday, President Joe Biden signed into law the ban.

“Today, we officially ended Russia’s chokehold on America’s uranium supply,” Barrasso said in a Monday statement. “Banning imports of Russian uranium will jumpstart America’s nuclear fuel industry, further defund Russia’s war machine, and help revive American uranium production for decades to come.”

What It Means

The ban is designed to revitalize the nation’s nuclear fuel industry and remove ties from Russia.

Brent Berg, senior vice president of Uranium Energy Corp., a Texas-based uranium business that has plans to restart uranium production in the Powder River Basin, said it’s a big win for Wyoming’s uranium industry. Uranium Energy expects to start production in August.

“I think it’s great news for uranium in Wyoming,” Berg said. “It’s something the uranium industry has been asking for a long time.”

Producing uranium — often called yellowcake for its powdered, yellow appearance — is one of the first steps in making fuel for nuclear reactors.

Uranium production in the United States peaked in 1980, and uranium purchases by U.S. nuclear power plant operators from domestic suppliers peaked in 1981, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). At that time, uranium production was a major industry in Wyoming. Wyoming is still the largest uranium producer in the U.S.

But since 1992, most of the uranium purchased by U.S. nuclear power plant operators has been imported.

Although the United States banned imports of oil, natural gas, and coal from Russia following the country’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, uranium was not included.

“Wyoming has the uranium to free its dependence on Russia and we need to use it,” Barrasso said. “Now with this ban, Wyoming and our industry for uranium is going to be much more robust and we’re going to stop sending money to Russia, which Vladimir Putin uses to fight the people of Ukraine.”

EIA reports that imported uranium makes up more than 95% of America’s total ownership. According to Reuters, Russia is the world's top supplier of enriched uranium, and about 24% of the enriched uranium used by U.S. nuclear power plants come from the country.

About a year ago, Barrasso held a roundtable to discuss the issue of Wyoming energy producers being undercut by Russian uranium.

“As our nation’s leading uranium producer, Wyoming is ready to do our part to power American reactors with American nuclear fuel,” Barrasso said. “Russia’s dominance of the world’s nuclear fuel supply chain is coming to an end.”

How It Happened?

Barrasso introduced his bill to ban Russian uranium imports in March 2023, which was added as an amendment to the Nuclear Fuel Security Act the next month.

“This is a bill that I put together in a bipartisan way in the Senate, it’s now law,” Barrasso said.

Then, Washington Republican congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers introduced mirror legislation last December, which passed the Senate on April 30. This was what Biden signed into law on Monday, as part of the National Fuel Security Act.

The law also unlocks about $2.7 billion in funding from previous legislation to build out the U.S. uranium fuel industry.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter