Former House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon penned an op-ed in support of the Department of Energy Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina, which since retiring from Congress he has lobbied the federal government to continue building.
“I am concerned about the effect on our national security of a further proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons materials,” McKeon wrote over the weekend on the website of The National Interest: a publication of the right-leaning Center for the National Interest. “The Trump administration should reconsider the merits of DOE’s plutonium-disposition program and, more specifically, the MOX [Mixed Oxide] facility at the Savannah River Site as it pertains to the United States’ national-security efforts.”
McKeon, a Republican who retired from Congress in 2015 after 22 years representing California, now runs the McKeon Group lobbying firm in Washington. CB&I Project Services Group, one of the partners on MOX prime contractor CB&I AREVA MOX Services, hired McKeon in 2016 to lobby for the facility.
The MOX plant is designed to turn 34 metric tons of nuclear weapon-usable plutonium into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors as part of a nuclear arms-reduction pact with Russia that was finalized in 2010.
The Trump administration, like the Barack Obama administration before it, wants to scrap MOX in favor of what it says would be a far faster and cheaper program to dilute the plutonium, mix it with concrete-like grout, and bury the mixture underground near Carlsbad, N.M., at the Energy Department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
In his National Interest piece, McKeon urged President Donald Trump to renegotiate CB&I AREVA MOX Services’ roughly $6-billion contract.
“President Trump has the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy by exercising the leadership that only the United States can provide, and succeeding where other administrations have fallen short, by making significant progress on nonproliferation that can be sustained well into the future,” McKeon wrote.