‘Why Cut Nuclear Energy Funding?’ Republicans Question Granholm on Biden Budget

Republican lawmakers questioned Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on the place of nuclear energy in President Biden’s proposed 2024 budget and America’s continued reliance on enriched uranium from Russia.

“Why cut nuclear energy funding?” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) asked Granholm, citing decreases in proposed spending on the department’s nuclear programs.

“That funding had been used to fund the advanced reactor demonstration program, and that is now funded [through] the bipartisan infrastructure law,” Granholm responded.

She was testifying on May 11 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, & Grid Security. Duncan chairs that subcommittee.

Duncan said nuclear energy is one topic that leads to “widespread agreement” among Democrats and Republicans and across the Senate and the House of Representatives.

NTD Photo
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) in a file image. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Nuclear industry insiders and advocates such as consultant Mark Nelson of Radiant Energy Group and Ed McGinnis, CEO of the nuclear waste recycling startup Curio, expressed a similar perspective to The Epoch Times at last year’s Thorium Energy Alliance Conference.

Yet, questions on the energy modality mostly came from one party at the Thursday afternoon hearing.

Against light protests from some Democrats, who argued that the Biden administration has shown a strong and continued commitment to nuclear energy, Duncan and his Republican colleagues continually pressed Granholm on the topic.

Granholm Prodded on Uranium

Duncan asked about the slow pace of movements to produce high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) in the United States. HALEU is critical to powering some advanced reactors.

A February 2023 memorandum from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies was direct about the dismal state of play from the West’s point of view: “Russia is currently the only other country that produces HALEU.”

Earlier this session, lawmakers sought to prohibit uranium imports from Russia, through legislation introduced in the House and Senate.

They argue it’s consistent with last year’s ban on Russian oil imports after the country invaded Ukraine.

While the Senate uranium ban bill is bipartisan, drawing support from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and other Democrats alongside multiple Republicans, the House version only has Republican sponsorship, at least for now.

Granholm chose her words carefully in response to Duncan’s HALEU questioning.

“We need to do a whole project with respect to HALEU and uranium overall,” she said. “We do not want to be reliant on Russia,” she added.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who chairs the full committee, seemed frustrated as the Biden official avoided answering “yes” or “no” to questions about a prospective ban on Russian uranium.

NTD Photo
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) speaks at a House Republican news conference on energy policy at the U.S. Capitol on March 08, 2022, in Washington. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“I would certainly consider that if we developed our own supply. We want to be energy independent. We don’t want to harm the existing [nuclear] fleet,” Granholm said.

She added that she hoped the administration and Congress could collaborate on a uranium strategy.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) asked Granholm about the government’s progress on reprocessing technologies for spent nuclear fuel.

She mentioned a program at the Idaho National Laboratory.

“It is small-ish, not huge. I think it can be much larger,” Granholm said.

“What’s holding us back?” Burgess asked.

“Historically, it just hasn’t been a huge priority,” she answered.

Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) criticized Republicans for what he characterized as misrepresentations of the Biden administration’s attitude on nuclear, hydroelectricity, and other non-hydrocarbon alternatives to wind and solar.

“You acknowledged that things take too long,” he said, referencing comments from Granholm on the need for permitting reform.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) was similarly leery of Republican rhetoric on the Biden administration–comments that have only intensified with the House Oversight Committee’s revelation of bank records tying the Biden family to China and the Chinese Communist Party.

“You’re very much aware of the threat from China,” Pallone told Granholm.

NTD Photo
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) outlines legislative efforts to lower fuel prices during a news conference in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington on April 28, 2022. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Granholm Sounding More Republican

Indeed, on China, energy, and other issues, the Energy Secretary’s rhetoric sounded relatively conservative as she spoke in the GOP-controlled House.

Rather than stressing an energy “transition,” in line with Democrats’ talking points, Granholm spoke of the need for “energy diversity” and making “the energy pie” bigger.

That’s somewhat reminiscent of Republican talking points on energy. Many GOP lawmakers speak of pursuing an “all-of-the-above” strategy when it comes to America’s energy future.

Yet, other comments from Granholm sounded much the same as other rhetoric from Democrats, particularly regarding the connection between the Ukraine war and energy prices.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a reckoning with our overreliance on fossil fuels,” she told the subcommittee.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.