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ICYMI: With Wyoming support, EPA chief signs agreement to boost U.S. uranium

07/24/2020
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By Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Jul 23, 2020

CHEYENNE – In the latest step in an ongoing effort by the Trump Administration to boost the country’s uranium industry, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed an agreement Thursday at the state Capitol clarifying roles within two federal agencies in regulation of the mineral.

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The memorandum of understanding signed Thursday outlines some of the authorities of the EPA and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission in implementing regulations over in-situ uranium recovery, a main way to extract the mineral.

Wheeler, who was joined by Gov. Mark Gordon in an afternoon news conference, said the MOU “would help reestablish a strong, domestic uranium mining industry.”

“It also lays out a clear path of communication between the agencies for the simplest measures to avoid duplicative actions,” Wheeler said. “It is my hope that the U.S. never becomes as dependent on imported uranium as we are today, and that hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs related to uranium mining are created here in Wyoming.”

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, praised the signing, calling it “a major win for uranium production in Wyoming.”

“The Trump Administration is limiting unnecessary regulations and making it easier for American companies to do business,” Barrasso said in a statement. “Nuclear power is clean and reliable. It provides carbon-free energy and creates good-paying jobs.”

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During Thursday’s news conference, Wheeler and Gordon maintained the state-level health regulations from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality over in-situ mining would be unaffected by the new agreement.

“There’s nothing that we’re doing today in this MOU that will change or require any change in safeguards that we’ve put in place here,” Wheeler said.

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“It’s nice to see the Trump Administration recognize how important uranium is to our energy (and) our nation’s future,” Gordon said. “So I see this as yet another way to help the industry get back on its feet.”

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