There is a large and growing contingency of pundits, politicians, and constituents in the United States who believe that leaning in to nuclear power is the nation’s best bet at meeting the carbon emissions reduction goals set by the Paris Agreement. Although the Trump administration withdrew from the agreement in June of 2017, polling shows that the majority of United States citizens still want the country to honor its Obama-era commitment to the Paris Agreement to combat global climate change.
Despite 30 years of building next to zero new nuclear reactors, the United States is already the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, generating about 30 percent of nuclear power production globally. There are currently 98 nuclear reactors in the United States alone, and another 450 across the world, but if there is any hope of meeting the clean-energy targets set by the Paris Agreement, it’s not only necessary to phase out coal entirely and significantly increase usage of renewable resources, the United States would need to double its nuclear power production levels. If the United States is to adopt nuclear as a more significant part of its energy makeup, much less double it, an important question arises: where will the uranium be coming from?
This month, the United States’ Uranium Committee of the Energy Minerals Division, a group responsible for monitoring the actions and movements of the uranium industry and the nuclear power industry, released their 2019 Annual Report at the annual meeting of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in San Antonio. The report assessed that the U.S. has more uranium than we would need to fuel hundreds of years of nuclear power generation, even if nuclear power was being relied on as a much more significant source of energy in the U.S. This is great news for nuclear supporters in the United States, though historically the country has not mined its own uranium but imported the radioactive metal from other countries–and there’s a reason for that.
As Forbes reports: “Since the 1990s, mostly from other countries like Canada and Australia. This is a good thing, as the uranium ores in these countries are much higher grade than ours and requires a lot less mining and refining to get the same amount of energy into the fuel. And, except for Russia, most of these countries are our allies.”