“I think it’s important that when you get a chance to interface with the president that you have a meaningful dialogue,” Schmidt told the Portsmouth Daily Times. “The dialogue that I have had for several years now, ongoing, is this loan guarantee at the USEC plant.”
Schmidt said in July a group of Portsmouth area businessmen hand-delivered a letter to Schmidt about the need for the $2 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy for the American Centrifuge Plant at Piketon.
That letter was signed by Portsmouth Mayor David Malone, and businessmen Jeff Albrecht, Chris Lute, Scott Schmidt and Andy Glockner.
“This was the first chance that I had and he got that letter,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said several months ago she had talked to the president about her grandson’s first birthday coming up in August.
“On Aug. 31 my grandson, Anthony, received a letter from the president and the first lady saying, ‘Congratulations on your first birthday,’ so I thanked him personally for that,” Schmidt said. “That was on the way in. Then on the way out again I thanked him for the birthday note and I told him I had a note for him thanking him for that, as well as a letter from the folks in my community regarding the uranium enrichment plant. And he said, “Thank you and I will look into it.’”
Schmidt said she delivering the letter was an important part of her job as a congresswoman.
“I think it’s part of my job to make sure that the issues and concerns of the folks in my district are heard and addressed, and we can move forward and get some results,” Schmidt said. “Unfortunately, in this case it’s in the hands of the president and I’m not going to let him forget the importance of it. I understand that the governor has recently sent him a letter regarding the importance of this uranium enrichment facility and the past governor did it. So both the heads of our state recognize the critical importance of the USEC plant, and they are conveying the same message that I am.”
Schmidt said she will continue to work in tandem with Gov. John Kasich and anyone else who wants to join her in the fight until the issue is resolved.
More than three years ago, USEC Inc. had applied for a DOE loan guarantee for the ACP project at Piketon and were turned down. Since then they have done the necessary things to correct problems in the original application and have amended the application and asked again for that guarantee. The deadline for the company’s two financial partners Toshiba and Babcock & Wilcox to pull out have come and gone several times with the latest extended to October.
“Last night the president talked about creating jobs and I applaud him in that effort,” Schmidt said. “But the jobs he was talking about are not jobs that will go into the future. They’re short-lived jobs — you build a bridge; you build a highway — once it’s done, where do you go next.”
Schmidt said the USEC project is different from those jobs.
“But you go with this loan guarantee to that facility and you’re talking about 4,000 jobs. And they’re not jobs that are going to be short-term jobs, they’re jobs that are going to be sustainable, jobs into the future. Very good-paying jobs,” Schmidt said. “You’ll have to get a lot of experts in, and that’s going to be big bucks. You’re going to have to have quality folks from the ground. That’s going to be really good money so that folks can have a middle-class lifestyle. And do more with their kids and buy a home and buy a car and all those things that are important to grow the economy, not just in the 2nd District but in America. This is totally a job creator. We can create 4,000 jobs with the stroke of a pen.”
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or firstname.lastname@example.org.