By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
The chairwoman of a subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Water committee, which is currently considering funding the Research Development and Demonstration program proposed between the U.S. Department of Energy and USEC Inc., says she supports funding the program.
According to Politico, Congressional appropriators, Feinstein and ranking member Lamar Alexander, are open to giving the uranium enrichment company USEC the $150 million in funds to get the first year of a two-year project going.
That project is backed by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, as well as House Speaker John Boehner, and is included in an omnibus spending bill, projected to be voted on in the House first, possibly next week.
The article in Politico quoted Alexander as saying, “Sen. Feinstein and I have recommended that we do it, and we’re discussing it with our House counterparts and we’ll know in a couple of days whether we have a conclusion. The administration has asked for (the funding), and I favor finding some way to test whether the technology USEC has developed works — whether it meets the operational standards of the Department of Energy.”
The RD&D project would allow the American Centrifuge Project at Piketon to continue testing and developing while USEC officials await a possible $2 billion loan guarantee for the ACP. The company applied for the loan guarantee three years ago, and President Obama has come under attack by Ohio lawmakers for what they perceive as reneging on a campaign promise to support the loan guarantee, while providing one for a French company, Areva.
Appropriations negotiators are discussing the idea of providing $150 million for USEC’s American Centrifuge Project in Piketon — a project backed by the state’s delegation, including House Speaker John Boehner — through next week’s omnibus spending bill, lawmakers said Thursday.
“I’m hopeful that the loan guarantee will come through soon,” Portman said, according to Politico. “But in the meantime, (I) certainly agree that we need to ensure that the project doesn’t end. If it did, it would be a terrible waste of taxpayer dollars and it would be much more costly to restart it.”
Portman also said he believes that USEC’s project has already proven its centrifuge technology. Over the two-year period the cost of the project would be $300 million.
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.