Last updated: July 24. 2013 2:15PM - 237 Views
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Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) says he has ensured that funding for uranium enrichment research and development was authorized in the final version of the bill produced by the Conference Committee that will now be considered by the House and Senate.

Portman called the American Centrifuge Project (ACP) in Piketon, “the cornerstone to fulfilling our national security requirements for a domestic source of enriched uranium.”

“As a conferee on the final version of the Defense Authorization bill, I worked hard to ensure that it contained a provision I was able to include in the Committee deliberation of the bill in May authorizing funding for this important national security and energy security program,” Portman said. “It has been more than four years since the Obama Administration first received the loan guarantee application for ACP. During that time, the Piketon region has been hit hard by a tough economy and currently faces double digit unemployment. While Congress continues to provide a lifeline for the project, I again call on the Administration to provide details of its long-term plans for ACP and for the families of southern Ohio.”

The $150 million authorization included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allows the Department of Energy (DOE) to continue its 2-year American Centrifuge research, development, and demonstration program. That program, first proposed by DOE in October of 2011, was designed by the department to help develop U.S. enrichment technology capable of meeting vital national security, nonproliferation and energy security needs while also enhancing taxpayer protections.

Portman said the $350 million program will allow for the manufacturing of 78 additional centrifuges and the deployment and demonstration of a 120-machine cascade in Piketon. Portman said to date, the Administration has not provided a plan for what will happen to ACP and the taxpayer dollars invested in the project after the conclusion of the RD&D effort. The demonstration project alone will not meet our national security requirements.

Portman said an approval for a loan guarantee would allow for the build-out of ACP. The full project would create 4,000 jobs in Ohio and fulfill our national security and energy security requirements for U.S. origin enriched uranium, according to Portman.

Prior to serving as a conferee on the bill, Portman said he worked with his SASC colleagues to ensure the Senate version of the bill, which passed out of the Armed Services Committee in May and off the Senate floor earlier this month, contained $150 million for ACP. Portman said he has met with Secretary Steven Chu on multiple occasions to press the need for DOE to move forward with a loan guarantee for ACP.

Portman and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) first introduced legislation to authorize the ACP RD&D program in December of 2011. In April of this year, Portman and Brown were successful in including $150 million in appropriations for the RD&D program in the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2013 Energy and Water appropriations bill, $100 million of which was ultimately included in Congress’ 6-month Continuing Resolution.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com

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