Morning Briefing - May 21, 2019
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May 21, 2019

House Funding Plan Includes No Uranium Barter for Nuclear Cleanup

By ExchangeMonitor

The House Appropriations energy and water subcommittee said Monday the practice of bartering excess government uranium to help fund remediation of the Energy Department’s Portsmouth Site in Ohio will not be allowed in fiscal 2020.

Instead, the subcommittee’s appropriations bill for the next budget year would provide Portsmouth with $60 million above the Donald Trump administration’s budget request for cleanup operations. That approximates the amount the government would have reaped through uranium barter.

The information was included a detailed report to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. The full House Appropriations Committee is set to mark up the measure this morning.

Overall, the bill would provide the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning Fund with $873 million in fiscal 2020. That is $32 million above the $841 million enacted level for fiscal 2019 and $158 million more than the White House proposal, which would have retained the uranium swap.

The UED&D Fund helps pay for remediation of retired gaseous diffusion plants in Piketon, Ohio; Paducah, Ky., and Oak Ridge, Tenn. The uranium swap program was last employed for cleanup funding in fiscal 2018.

Portsmouth’s decontamination and decommissioning would be funded at $367 million, roughly equal to the amount for the current fiscal year and far above the $305 million proposed by the White House.

The D&D budget request for Portsmouth was $62 million lower with the idea the funding gap could have been supplemented through uranium barter, although Energy Secretary Rick Perry has publicly called it a “poor way to run a railroad.”

During an April hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Perry committed to suspending uranium barter in fiscal 2020, as was the case during the current budget. The promise was solicited by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.), who says barter undercuts the market for domestically produced uranium from Wyoming and other states.