Sanctions upon sanctions in recent days have led to a large decrease in imports from Russia. The U.S. nuclear power industry is lobbying the White House to allow uranium imports from Russia to continue despite the escalating conflict in Ukraine, with cheap supplies of the fuel seen as key to keeping American electricity prices low, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
Washington and its allies have imposed a series of sanctions on Moscow in the past week as Russian forces pushed deeper into neighboring Ukraine, though the sanctions exempt uranium sales and related financial transactions.
The National Energy Institute (NEI), a trade group of U.S.nuclear power generation companies including Duke Energy Corp and Exelon Corp, is lobbying the White House to keep the exemption on uranium imports from Russia, the sources said.
The United States relies on Russia and its allies Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for roughly half of the uranium powering its nuclear plants – about 22.8 million pounds (10.3 million kg) in 2020 – which in turn produce about 20% of U.S. electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the World Nuclear Association.
“While Russia is a significant global supplier of commercial nuclear fuel, U.S. utilities contract with a worldwide network of companies and countries for their fuel requirements to mitigate the risks of potential disruption,” said Nima Ashkeboussi, NEI’s senior director of fuel and radiation safety. The Biden administration has said it is working to keep American energy costs low.