PIKETON, OH – Following last week’s U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) agreement to continue the development of the American Centrifuge Plant (ACP), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) held a forum to discuss the path forward for the ACP in Piketon. Brown outlined the framework in a December 2 letter to DOE Secretary Steven Chu.
“Piketon can be the economic engine to power Southern Ohio,” Brown said. “Although USEC’s path forward has seen obstacles, the bipartisan cooperation and united front from business and community leaders will make this economic development project a success story.”
Late last year, the U.S. Senate made an offer – backed by Brown, the Senate Majority Leader, and the top Democrat and Republican with jurisdiction over energy funding – to include $150 million in research and development funds for Piketon. When that offer was not accepted by the House, Brown immediately began working with the Department of Energy on an alternate path forward to providing the ACP with additional federal resources.
Brown first outlined this alternate path forward in October. The proposal would allow the Department of Energy to utilize assets owned by USEC – in the form of “tails,” a byproduct of uranium enrichment – to secure additional RD&D funding to continue to position ACP in the strongest position possible for approval of a loan guarantee. Brown first suggested this approach – utilizing existing resources – in the December letter. In late December, Brown and Senator Rob Portman introduced legislation that would enable the Department of Energy to fully fund the RD&D project for 2012.
Background on American Centrifuge Project
USEC’s application for a government loan guarantee would help build state of the art uranium enrichment technology at the former Department of Energy (DOE) Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. If successful, the ACP could bring as many as 4,000 construction jobs and 400 long-term, full time jobs to Piketon.
Brown is working closely with USEC and DOE to advance the American Centrifuge Project. Earlier this year, in letters to White House Chief of Staff William Daley and Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew, Brown emphasized that an expeditious loan approval process would ensure the domestic enrichment of uranium for national security activities. At the end of 2010, Brown urged the Obama Administration to move forward in approving the loan guarantee for the American Centrifuge Plant (ACP) and to fully fund cleanup at the former Gaseous Diffusion Plant. In 2009, Brown worked with DOE to reach an agreement that resulted in DOE devoting $45 million in new funds to advance the ACP. In October 2010, Brown visited Piketon. A week later, DOE announced that efforts to secure a loan guarantee for USEC have taken a significant step forward. DOE and USEC had reached a framework for further discussions. In December, Brown called on the administration to fully fund the Piketon Cleanup.
A member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Brown has led the fight in Congress to accelerate the Piketon cleanup and to create new jobs. He successfully secured an expedited timeframe for the cleanup, moving the completion date up by more than 20 years. As a result of Brown and President Obama’s efforts, Piketon doubled the amount of cleanup funding that they received, including $118 million in cleanup funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. President Obama's FY 2011 budget request also includes nearly $500 million for the project. Federal funds for Piketon will have helped to create more than 275 jobs in the region.