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Washington, DC – Last week, Wyoming Congresswoman and Congressional Western Caucus Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) joined Chairman Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and enCore Energy Corp. CEO Paul Goranson on the Congressional Western Caucus’ podcast, “A Voice for Rural America,” to discuss the importance of a domestic uranium supply and the need to bolster American production for both fuel and non-fuel uses.

With Russia being the only commercial supplier of high-assay low-enriched uranium and increased scrutiny over Russia’s involvement in the global nuclear fuel cycle, Western Caucus Members have strongly advocated for increased domestic development of uranium. In April, Vice Chair Cheney and Chairman Newhouse led a letter to U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm expressing concerns about her delay in implementing a national uranium reserve.

Listen to the full episode here and see excerpts of the transcript below:

REP. LIZ CHENEY: Well, absolutely, Dan, and thanks again for doing this and for your interest in and your commitment to the issues and your leadership for the Western Caucus for us. So, thank you very much for that. And as you pointed out, Wyoming is the source of the largest known reserves of uranium in the country. And we’re very excited to have the Terra Power plant coming in. And I think we all know how important nuclear energy is. And we all know how important having a domestic supply of uranium is, both in terms of meeting our energy needs, as well as from a national security perspective. And I think, you know, the challenge right now is, our own domestic production has been down pretty close to zero. And we have, as you pointed out, been importing uranium, particularly from Russia. And as we all watch the tragedy that’s unfolding, in the brutality of the Russian attack on Ukraine, it is just really brought home, once again, how important it is for us not to rely on Russia, in particular, as a source of uranium. How important it is for us to be able to get the kind of investment we need in our own domestic production, for us to be in a situation where we get back our enrichment capacity, again — which we also don’t have. It just really — we’re in a situation where we have this tremendous treasure and natural resource that can do so much, both in terms of nuclear energy as a source of clean energy going forward — can contribute and add to the coal and the oil and natural gas that we’re so blessed with in Wyoming. But also, fundamentally important for our national security. So, we’re going to continue, obviously, to push the Administration to stop its reliance and dependence on Russian uranium, to do everything we can to get investment going back in the United States again. And to help and make sure people understand that we’ve got the resource that we really need, we’ve just got to get the investment and the production, and then, of course, the enrichment capabilities going again.

REP. DAN NEWHOUSE:Liz, you’ve truly been a leader on this issue and probably know as much about it as anybody in Congress. Could you expand on some of the work that — the critical things that you’ve been engaged with, some of the things you’ve done, and some of those legislative initiatives that you’ve been leading?

REP. CHENEY:Sure. Well, I hesitate to take the title of an expert on a podcast with you and with Paul. I can give you a little bit of detail in terms of what we’ve been doing. I think it was in 2018, when we were able to get uranium on the critical minerals list. And that has been, obviously, very important for us. In terms of, you know, in particular, the Department of Defense, making clear that uranium is crucial, that the supply of uranium for our defense industry is a matter of national security. And unfortunately, it was removed this year, or maybe it was in ‘21. But it was removed from the list. And we’ve worked in a number of ways, both through the NDAA process — I introduced an amendment to the NDAA, which made it into the House version, which would have put uranium back on the critical minerals list. Unfortunately, it was stripped out in the Senate. And then when the House considered the America COMPETES Act, we also had en bloc a group of Republican amendments. And I know you were one of the leaders, certainly on this, Dan, in terms of trying to get uranium back on the critical minerals list that way. And because we’re in the minority, unfortunately, our Republican en bloc didn’t succeed. But it’s really — it’s something we need to continue to push. And again, I really do, I think, you know — you have this combination of the — really has hit home for people why we can’t rely on Russia. And at the same time, understanding that we have to do everything we can to be, you know, really the arsenal of energy for the world. And being in a situation where we’re not able to fully get access to our resources, fully take advantage of the real potential of nuclear power, just creates a situation that puts America at a disadvantage that is, in many ways, self-imposed. So, we have the NDAA markup coming up again. It’s early this year, it’ll be at the end of June. And certainly, it’s something we’ll take another run at. I know that you and Paul may know more, there’s a schedule of, sort of, when DOE will reconsider the critical minerals list, but we’ll do everything we can from a legislative perspective to urge them to make sure that they add uranium onto that list again.

REP. NEWHOUSE: So, Paul, you’ve talked about some of the importance of diversifying our sourcing. Liz, could you maybe help dive into that question, too, and share with our listeners why you believe that this isn’t an issue, and maybe what they need to know about this?

REP. CHENEY: Sure, absolutely. You know, I think one of the things that is important for people to focus on is that, you know, we aren’t just talking about, sort of, Russia as an alternative source. Russia has, and continues to, really weaponize their resources. And so, whether you’re talking about natural gas or whether you’re talking about uranium, we know that they will, you know, use the fact that other countries become dependent on their resources for energy supplies as blackmail for the kind of just brutal regime and brutal policies that they’re putting in place. And look, I think we have to recognize — and this is particularly an issue when you’re talking about natural gas and oil, that when we are watching the war crimes that are taking place in Ukraine, for the Europeans to continue, to the extent that some of them have, to import Russian energy, they really are helping to finance those horrific things that are happening, you know, on a daily basis now in Ukraine. So, when you look at something that’s as important as uranium, and the fact that it is necessary both for our energy supply and for our security, and for our defense enterprise, we really do need to do everything we can domestically to increase our own production. And so, some of that includes making sure that the Administration follows through on its word to establish the uranium reserve and to purchase domestic uranium into the reserve. And I know you’ve been a real leader on this, Dan, in leading the effort in Congress. I was honored to co-sign with you the letter urging the Administration to fulfill its commitment there. And this is an issue that I first became educated about because of, you know, Paul’s willingness to spend the time with a candidate for the House of Representatives many, many years ago it seems now, and walking me through how important all of these issues were. But I think that, you know, as we look forward now into the appropriations process, we want to make sure that we’re appropriating the necessary resources for that. And at a time when there certainly is an awful lot of spending going on, that I know we disagree with, I do think the federal government has got to step up and to play a role that only it can play in terms of doing something as important as making sure that they’ve got the resources to establish and to carry out their commitment with respect to our uranium reserve. And then, obviously, also getting our enrichment capabilities back up again. And that’s an issue that we deal with directly on the Armed Services Committee as well.

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