Market News

 February 07, 2019
Trump uranium quota could shutter nuclear plants, trade group warns

 A TRUMP ADMINISTRATION proposal to institute quotas on domestic uranium could put the country's nuclear power sector in a nuclear winter.

The administration is reportedly considering an import quota that would require U.S. uranium mining firms to provide a quarter of the domestic market. The Commerce Department began exploring the idea last year, citing national security concerns. However, critics of the proposal point out that much of the country's uranium is supplied by close U.S. allies: Canada and Australia.

A quota is heavily opposed by the country's nuclear power sector, which operates 98 reactors at 60 power plants across the country. This week the industry's leading trade group stepped up its campaign against the measure, warning that a 25 percent quota would cause uranium prices to soar and force some reactors offline.

"A typical single unit nuclear plant employs between 500 and 700 workers in jobs that pay, on average, 36 percent above the prevailing local wage rate," the Nuclear Energy Institute said in a statement to POLITICO Pro. "To put that in perspective, the closure of one plant would lead to a loss of more jobs than in the entire U.S. uranium mining industry."

Nuclear power plants remain the largest source of zero-emissions electricity in the U.S. While renewables such as wind and solar generated about 17 percent of the country's electricity in 2017, nuclear plants accounted for 20 percent.

However, the sector in recent years has been stifled by astronomical upfront costs that have all but stymied new construction, as well as continued public skepticism about safety and security despite few there being such incidents in the U.S.