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Thu Jun 14, 2012, 03:39 PM

If nuclear fuel is so cheap, why do we need to subsidize a failing enrichment company?

It is a truism of nuclear power that the fuel cost is inconsequential to the overall cost of the electricity generated. If that's the case, why are subsidies needed for the manufacturing process of that fuel?

Markey, Burgess Call For GAO Investigation of DOE Support for Near-Bankrupt USEC
Jun. 12, 2012 --
Precarious financial situation, contravention of laws, inaccurate national security benefits underscore risk for bailout of nuclear enrichment company

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas) today wrote the Government Accountability Office (GAO) calling for an investigation of the Departments of Energy’s (DOE) continued support for the floundering United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC). In their letter to the GAO, the lawmakers point to USEC’s inability to avoid insolvency in the absence of continued DOE bailouts, most recently in the form of $44 million in assistance so that the company could continue work on USEC’s flawed centrifuge technology and tens of thousands of tons of free uranium transferred from the Energy Department to stave off an immediate shut down of its Kentucky enrichment facility. Additionally, the Congressmen cite the recent credit downgrading, technical problems, and inaccurate assertions about the national security benefits as reasons why the nuclear enrichment program may never reach full commercialization.

“We’ve been told this earmark is all about avoiding risk to our national security, but the real risks of this nuclear bailout is for taxpayers who will be on the hook for questionable government handouts that are worth more than the entire company,” said Rep. Markey. “The GAO should immediately commence an investigation into DOE’s ongoing support for USEC before we throw more money at a company whose junk bond status and junk technology make it better suited for the budgetary junk heap.”

“The Department of Energy has been harming the uranium mining industry for years, dumping excess uranium tails into the market to prop up a failing company that couldn't stand on its own feet. As a result, thousands of miners from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, and others, have had their livelihoods put in jeopardy,” said Rep. Burgess. “It is time the Department of Energy is held accountable for their activities. This GAO report will be the first step in bringing justice for an industry still damaged by Department of Energy policies.”


In the letters, Reps. Markey and Burgess request the GAO’s investigation to examine issues including:
- The assertion that the USEC program is needed in order to fulfill a national security need ...


A copy of Rep Markey's letter here:

Timeline of Rep Markey's work on this issue:

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Reply If nuclear fuel is so cheap, why do we need to subsidize a failing enrichment company? (Original post)
kristopher Jun 2012 OP
Scootaloo Jun 2012 #1

Response to kristopher (Original post)

Thu Jun 14, 2012, 03:43 PM

1. 'Cause it's tradition, I guess.


Having the taxpayers pay for the production of the energy that they then have to buy with profit costs is a time-honored American tradition stretching back to at least the early 1900's!

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