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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Chairman, this is very straightforward.

This amendment would strike the $100 million from the nuclear nonproliferation account which has been earmarked by the committee for a bailout of a failing uranium enrichment company. This $100 million could then be put toward deficit reduction.

This has nothing to do with taking away money from national security and everything to do with ending bailouts to a failed business model. Twenty years ago, two decades ago, this Congress created by charter the United States Enrichment Corporation, believing USEC could better run the uranium enrichment facilities than the government itself. But after two decades, you look at the situation and realize it ain't happening and Congress was wrong.

Since its inception, USEC has squandered billions of dollars in Federal bailouts, running its operations to near insolvency because of poor decisions and--dare I say--corporate incompetency. Yearly, USEC comes to Congress and the executive branch--hat in hand--begging for millions of dollars in bailout money to continue operation sites that are technologically out of date. It is time that the Federal Government ended the endless bailouts to this enterprise.

Moreover, USEC has been a bad-faith actor in negotiations with the uranium mining industry which provides the needed raw materials that are enriched at these facilities. You always ask yourself on these deals who is the winner and who is the loser. We always say Congress shouldn't pick winners and losers. They clearly are. USEC is the winner. The losers are the uranium miners that populate the western United States.

What motivation does USEC have to negotiate in good faith when it knows if it doesn't get everything it wants from the miners, it simply goes to the Department of Energy, gets a handout, and then time and time again they either get direct-cash payments or they get spent uranium tails? So they have no reason to negotiate with our miners in the western United States.

The Department of Energy has a longstanding agreement with the uranium mining industry not to dump any more than 10 percent of the market's worth of uranium in handouts to USEC at any given time; yet it becomes increasingly clear that the Department of Energy is willing to ignore that agreement and provide the bailout that USEC desires.

This betrayal of the mining industry threatens thousands of jobs across the western United States--Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, Illinois, and Wyoming to name a few. Moreover, arguments that USEC is the only facility that can supply tritium to the Department of Defense ignores the plain language of the Washington treaty and the U.S.-India Nuclear Agreement. The Department of Energy has in its possession enough highly enriched uranium and tritium to last for at least 15 years, costing hundreds of millions of dollars less than the continued bailouts of USEC that the country is currently obligated to.

It is time for this Congress to stand up and stop the continual bailouts of a failed business model. Propping up one company at the expense of American workers is not how this body should be operating. Let's end the bailout, return the money to the Treasury, pay down our deficit.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.


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