PDT Staff Writer
Officials from across the region, the state and the nation and from both sides of the political aisle took the opportunity Wednesday to respond to the announcement from the Obama administration that the RD&D project, a part of the American Centrifuge Project (ACP) at Piketon, would be funded through November of this year.
“The Department of Energy understands how important the ACP is to our nation’s security and Ohio’s economy,” U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown said. “I commend the Department of Energy and USEC for working together on a path towards job creation and greater accountability. This federal investment will ensure that the Piketon community is on a path towards continued job creation and economic growth.”
Congresswoman Jean Schmidt spoke about job creation and national security.
“This is the right thing to do for our country,” Schmidt said. “Jobs are one of my top priorities, and this will support our hardworking, skilled labor force in Southern Ohio. But it is also critical to our national security. The American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon will provide an unencumbered domestic supply of enriched uranium, which is necessary to support our nuclear arsenal and nuclear Navy.”
Schmidt talked about the uniqueness of the Piketon project.
“This agreement and technology will allow the United States to maintain a leadership role in non-proliferation efforts by ensuring an adequate supply of nuclear fuel to encourage countries to forego their own enrichment programs,” Schmidt said. “The American Centrifuge Plant will be our nation’s only source of enriched uranium, and it will be the basis of peaceful nonproliferation agreements.”
Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, now a co-chairman of the Obama campaign, also lauded the announcement.
“Building on the good work that Ohio workers, their families, and Ohio’s elected leaders like Senator Sherrod Brown, and others, President Obama and his Administration today made a significant investment in the USEC plant in Piketon, to support the next generation of jobs that will enhance our domestic energy security,” Strickland said. “Forging an agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and USEC clearly shows that the Administration is committed to assuring job creation and economic security for Southern Ohio.”
Strickland went on to say, “President Obama’s Administration has been a strong advocate in fighting for the workforce in and around the Piketon plant and across Ohio as DOE has carefully considered the options for investment at Piketon. The President’s commitment to ensuring funding for this critical project demonstrates that he recognizes what so many of us in Southern Ohio have known for years: Our working community has made tremendous contributions to our nation’s defense and energy security and with this investment, the President demonstrates that he is committed to the future of working people in and around Piketon for years to come.”
The regional governing body closest to the situation, the Pike County Commissioners, welcomed the announcement with open arms.
“What is so important about this is that it shows that there is a relationship between DOE and USEC that is separate from the loan guarantee,” Pike County Commissioner Blaine Beekman said.
USEC has continued to pursue a $2 billion loan guarantee from the DOE to complete the ACP.
“You hear all about the loan guarantee, but this is one, when you talk about increasing the technology, it’s a partnership - issuing the intellectual property - that becomes a collateral to the government,” Beekman said “These are pretty significant, and it shows the spirit of cooperation or you couldn’t have gotten it to happen.”
Some of the responses were cautionary.
“I commend the Department of Energy and the American Centrifuge Project consortium in reaching an agreement that prevents the demobilization of this important energy security and national security project. While this agreement is a step in the right direction, and one that provides enhanced protections to the U.S. tax payer, it is important to recognize that it only provides funding for the project through November of this year,” U.S. Senator Rob Portman said. “I remain committed to working with DOE Secretary Chu and the rest of the Administration on a long-term plan that will ensure we have access to this crucial technology while providing peace of mind to the workers at ACP and the local community.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.