August 11 -- The National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy (DOE), invites public comments by October 13, 2021 on topics related to establishment of the DOE's Uranium Reserve program. [Due date extended from September 10.]
In the United States (U.S.), nuclear energy provides more than 55 percent of our clean energy and supports about half a million American jobs. However, the U.S. nuclear industry and the nuclear fuel supply chain face significant challenges that have left domestic nuclear fuel suppliers in a weakened position on the domestic and global stage. Revitalizing the U.S. nuclear fuel supply infrastructure would support the Administration's goals described in the American Jobs Plan, including addressing the climate crisis, creating American jobs, positioning the U.S. to compete with economic rivals, and supporting national security. It would support environmental justice initiatives, prioritize addressing long-standing and persistent racial injustice by targeting 40 percent of the benefits of climate and clean infrastructure investments to disadvantaged communities, consider rural communities and communities impacted by the market-based transition to clean energy, and include meaningful stakeholder engagement.
In December 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Pub. L. 116-260) that makes $75,000,000 available to the Department for the Uranium Reserve Program. The Department is considering options to acquire natural uranium and convert this uranium into uranium hexafluoride that would be stored at commercial facilities in the United States.
In considering options, the Department will focus on reinvigorating domestic nuclear fuel supply chain capabilities, utilizing existing facilities, and minimizing negative disruption of market mechanisms. The Department expects the acquisition of natural uranium to result in new uranium production at existing domestic sites.
The Department does not intend such new production to initiate or expand mining on Tribal lands, expand the Office of Legacy Management's (LM) Uranium Leasing Program, or expand access to additional uranium deposits located on other Federal lands. Additionally, the Department does not intend to acquire uranium or uranium hexafluoride produced from enricher underfeeding, the re-enrichment of tails, or other sources that do not support the reinvigoration of uranium production and conversion capabilities. Likewise, the Department expects to use existing domestic commercial conversion capabilities and store the uranium hexafluoride at a domestic facility.
The Department will comply with all applicable laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act, in the proposed establishment of a uranium reserve. In addition, the Department will give careful attention to energy justice, distributive impacts, and other relevant issues in its decision-making process. This program would include meaningful engagement with stakeholders, including State, local, Tribal governments, and disadvantaged communities.
The Department is publishing this RFI to gain a better understanding of the views of stakeholders and Tribal and other disadvantaged communities on topics related to the establishment of a uranium reserve. Responses to the RFI will inform the Department's establishment of a uranium reserve, as well as the development of a procurement strategy for acquisition of uranium, conversion services, and storage.
The Department is seeking public comment on the following questions related to the establishment of a uranium reserve and the development of a procurement strategy for acquiring uranium, conversion services, and storage for the uranium. Please provide data, analyses, or other justifications for all responses.
(1) How can the establishment of a uranium reserve be structured to incentivize the production of uranium from domestic sources and the maintenance of domestic conversion services, support the Administration's goals described in the American Jobs Plan, and promote energy justice, including consideration of community needs and distribution of benefits pursuant to the Justice40 Initiative? . . .
Extension of RFI due date: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/09/13/2021-19701/request-for-information-regarding-establishment-of-the-department-of-energy-uranium-reserve-program