By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
USEC Inc. is going to have an uphill battle if they are to receive funding for the Research, Development and Demonstration project, according to both of Ohio’s U.S. senators.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, says the House version of the omnibus spending bill does not contain the funding.
“We just got word that the House has put forth their proposal with the conference bill and the RD&D funding has not been included on the House side,” Brown spokeswoman Lauren Kulick said.
Kulick said it is not the final version, because the Senate has not been signed off on that version. Brown said the USEC project, a joint venture with the U.S. Department of Energy, was included in the Senate version.
“I’m extremely disappointed that the Research, Development and Demonstration request of the U.S. Department of Energy was not included in the year-end spending bill,” said U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland. “The outcome would have been different if President Obama had helped us on this. It’s a shame that the president continues to refuse to keep his promise to the people of southern Ohio that he would support this project, which would create nearly 4,000 jobs here.” USEC and the DOE are asking for $150 million to be included in the spending bill. It would be the first year’s cost of a two-year project valued at $300 million.
Brown said he is hopeful there will be some internal work within the House to change it.
USEC officials believe the RD&D funding would help keep alive their application for a conditional $2 billion loan guarantee for the American Centrifuge Project at Piketon. USEC applied for the loan guarantee three years ago after then-candidate Barack Obama promised to support it, but since then has remained quiet about his support for the loan guarantee.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said he hopes the RD&D funding could be included in the omnibus bill or some other legislation if the omnibus legislation is not successful.
“It’s going to be very tough to do it because by the time that the Department of Energy decided they were going to refuse the conditional commitment, which I have been pushing for, the appropriations process had already ended in the House, and the bill had already come out of the committee in the Senate onto the floor,” Portman said. “It turns out we were not able to pick it up on the floor where I hoped to be able to amend the appropriations bill. I had actually submitted an amendment to do that. So I don’t know if the funding will be able to be achieved here before the end of the year.”
Portman said he is “very frustrated” with the funding to not be included.
“I think the Department of Energy waited too long to make their decision,” Portman said. “And frankly I think if they had made a conditional commitment, there would have been no risk to the taxpayer. But there would have been a big benefit which is more private sector funds would have come into the ACP project, the new technology for uranium enrichment.”