U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo) voted against the passage of the US House's Energy and Water Appropriations bill. The legislation, which sets the spending limit for the upcoming 2012-13 budget year, costs more than $33 billion which matches, not reduces, spending levels of the previous year. Further, the House failed to place a reasonable cap on the Department of Energy's (DOE) intention to dump free uranium into the market, a move that jeopardizes uranium producers in Wyoming and around the west.
In an effort to thwart DOE's market takeover and preserve jobs in the uranium mining and conversion industry in Wyoming and the west, Congressman Lummis offered an amendment limiting the transfer of DOE's stockpile in to the domestic market. The bipartisan amendment, co-sponsored by Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX), was not agreed to.
Last month the DOE announced it would unload over 9,000 tons of free uranium, breaking an agreement reached in 2008 between the department and the uranium producers and utilities specifying that the DOE would not release more than 10% of national demand into the market.
The apparent break in honoring the 2008 agreement is intended to allow the failing operations of a private company -- the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) in Paducah, KY -- to limp along for one more year. It's estimated that the 1,200 jobs in Kentucky that will be preserved for one year will in turn kill 1,200 jobs in Wyoming and the west.
"Here our government goes again: choosing winners and losers," Rep. Lummis said. "I'm seeking to end the price distorting dumping of uranium in the open market above the level that can be weathered by our domestic producers. I don't want jobs lost in Kentucky but I also don't want jobs lost in Wyoming and the west. We should never be asked to support plans that sacrifice jobs in one part of the country for another."
Rep. Lummis' amendment would have protected jobs in Kentucky and the West because it would not have affected the dumping of at least 62% of their proposed amount in 2012, more than enough to keep USEC on life-support, while stipulating that in 2013 the DOE transfers needed to remain under the reasonable cap agreed to by all parties in 2008.
In voting against the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill, Rep. Lummis has now voted against three of the annual Appropriations measures this year because they have not sufficiently reduced spending from the previous year.