By Frank Lewis
In the Ohio House of Representatives calling for the restoration of funding at the Piketon-based American Centrifuge Project, State Representative Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) says President Obama has reneged on a promise made to southern Ohio.
Johnson sponsored House Concurrent Resolution 30 with Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville). The resolution specifically urges Congress and the US Department of Energy to reverse its decision to terminate funding of the American Centrifuge Program at the American Centrifuge Plant.
“You don’t say things like he said and not mean them at all,” Johnson told the Daily Times. “When he promised a $2 billion loan guarantee (to then USEC) in a letter to then Governor (Ted) Strickland and then reneged on it completely, walked away from it, and then that project turned into a test stand, a science experiment, gathering data instead of a full-blown operation, that was a punch in the gut. This last thing is another punch in the gut because even the science experiment has been canceled by the Barack Obama administration.
The measure received its first hearing in the Ohio House Energy and Natural Resources Committee Wednesday.
Johnson said some 230 or so high-paying jobs are on the line if the ACP program is shut down.
“This guy (Obama) squandered billions of dollars on everything you can imagine including Solyndra and all these Cash for Klunkers projects, he had no intention of taking care of southern Ohio, no intention of turning to nuclear energy,” Johnson said. “He’s over in Europe over this climate change, if he really wants to do something to clean up the environment and if there’s anything at all to global warning, nuclear energy is the answer and he is just slamming it shut.”
HCR 30 in part states that enriched uranium fuel supplier, Centrus Energy Corporation, is working to deploy its technology to support US energy and national security. Despite the Department of Energy investing $3 billion over 10 years to develop the American Centrifuge technology, it recently decided to terminate funding for the program in Piketon.
“From a personal standpoint from the folks who actually have a good-paying job and their families and all the people they touch in the communities because of their involvement in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and 4-H and all the things they do in the churches, this is a horrible blow,” Johnson said. “From a strategic standpoint, thinking about the United States of America and the defense of our nation, for us not to have our own ability, independent of anyone else in the world to enrich uranium, just seems insane to me. I can’t believe that our government is taking us down a path where we won’t be able to modulate the explosive power of our own warheads, we’re going to have to ask someone else to develop what we need to run our aircraft carriers and our nuclear submarines.”
Johnson said he has done what he can do from his standpoint.
“This is an effort to get the entire General Assembly and Governor (John) Kasich to put down in writing that we think this is a really bad idea and we want to get it reversed,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the resolution will come from the House and from the Senate, and if it passes, it will get sent on to the Ohio delegation and the Department of Energy in Washington.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.