The American Centrifuge Project (ACP) at Piketon is conspicuous by its absence in President Obama’s final budget proposal. While that budget includes $322 million for decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) efforts at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, an increase of over 10 percent from the FY 2016 enacted level, the president proposes no funding at all for the ACP.
“In his final year, President Obama shows his true colors by shunning our nation’s nuclear security. The President’s budget has zero – nothing – to continue maintaining our only domestically owned source of uranium enrichment, which is key to our military capabilities,” U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) said. “Congress, like in years past, will work to undo the President’s nuclear negligence.”
Last year’s Presidential budget proposal also included no funding for the American Centrifuge Project, but Congress was able to insert funding to help sustain the vital ability. The Department of Energy still has not spent the money Congress provided.
“This project is a national security imperative to ensure we have a continued domestic supply of enriched uranium to support our nuclear-powered navy and nuclear based assets,” Wenstrup said. “It is shameful for the Obama Administration to walk away from this longstanding investment, leaving southern Ohio and the nation with another broken promise from this administration.”
Wenstrup went on to say the president’s budget is not binding and largely seen as dead-on-arrival in Congress, but it sets the parameters for funding discussions heading into next year.
“We continue to press for a plan to meet our national security need for domestic enrichment abilities—the good people of Southern Ohio deserve answers, and accountability,” Wenstrup said.
U.S. Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH) also responded to the absence of ACP funding in Obama’s FY17 budget while touting the Republican alternate plan.
“Southern Ohio is a major loser in the President’s proposal: his budget contains insufficient funds to keep operations in Piketon going – leaving the United States with no domestic source of uranium. This is the orbit that President Obama resides in: He’ll ease sanctions on Iran and allow that state sponsor of terrorism to resume enrichment, but won’t prioritize the money needed to keep Ohioans employed to do the same,” Johnson said. “The contrast with the budget of the House Republicans is stark: Our positive budget alternative that will be introduced later this month will balance, create jobs, and tackle our major debt problem.”
“The Administration made the wrong decision when it turned its back on these workers last year and again when it left ACP out of the President’s FY 2017 budget,” U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said. “And the current leadership in Congress also failed these workers when it ignored my calls to make this critical project a priority in the year-end spending bill. I’m committed to keeping these jobs in southern Ohio, so I will continue to work with the local community to find a long-term solution for the community.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.