House advances McMorris Rodgers’ Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act

The U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 11 voted to approve legislation led by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) that would ban all imports of Russian-produced enriched uranium. The U.S. Senate on Dec. 12 received the measure for consideration.

The Prohibiting Russian Uranium Imports Act, H.R. 1042, which Rep. McMorris Rodgers sponsored on Feb. 14 alongside lead original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH), specifically would ban unirradiated low-enriched uranium produced in Russia from being imported into the United States.

However, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) could waive the ban if DOE determines that no alternative viable source of low-enriched uranium is available to sustain the continued operation of a nuclear reactor or a U.S. nuclear energy company, or importation of the uranium is in the national interest, according to the congressional record bill summary. Any waiver issued would have to be terminated no later than Jan. 1, 2028.

Additionally, H.R. 1042 would establish annual caps on the amount of low-enriched uranium that may be imported from Russia through 2027, and would limit funding for DOE’s American Assured Fuel Supply program, the summary says.

Rep. McMorris Rodgers and U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), chair and member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, respectively, applauded House action to advance H.R. 1042. Rep. Duncan is also a cosponsor of the bill.

“We’re proud to lead this effort and grateful for the support from our colleagues in the Senate,” the members said in a joint statement. “We hope the Senate will move swiftly to pass this important legislation so it is sent to the president’s desk to become law.”

They pointed out that nuclear fuel produced by Russia currently accounts for more than 20 percent of the fuel used by U.S. reactors. 

“This has given Putin a dangerous amount of leverage over America’s energy security,” said the lawmakers. “H.R. 1042 will ban these fuel imports from Russia and help restore America’s nuclear leadership and fuel infrastructure.”

Rep. McMorris Rodgers pointed out in a speech on the House floor prior to the bill’s passage that H.R. 1042 would help strengthen national security, phase out Russian-produced fuels, and help unleash American nuclear energy.

“American leadership in nuclear energy and nuclear technology is critical to our economic, energy, and national security, and a strong domestic nuclear fuels system — from mining to enrichment — is vital to our leadership,” the congresswoman said. “H.R. 1042 will protect the short-term needs of the nuclear industry and provides the long-term certainty necessary to encourage investment and secure a durable domestic supply of fuel.”