Despite a challenge by two congressmen, the Energy Department is planning to provide $280 million to help a company working on $5 billion uranium-enrichment project in Ohio determine whether its new technology is commercially feasible.
The funding is expected to allow USEC, a Maryland-based company, to keep its centrifuge project in Piketon going, the Columbus Dispatch
reported Thursday. The company hopes to eventually qualify for a $2 billion federal loan guarantee..
The announcement of the federal funding came just a day after Reps. Edward M. Markey, a Democrat, and Rep. Michael Burgess, a Republican, called for an investigation of the project, suggesting in a letter to the Government Accountability Office that the company’s efforts so far have already shown that its technology may not work. Markey painted the funding as “bailout” for “a clearly failing company.”
But both Ohio senators, Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sharrod Brown, while cautious in their responses to the funding, suggested that it was in the interest of national security and would provide needed jobs for Ohio workers.
Portman also noted that the full funding amount still has to be approved by the Senate, even the company can expect to receive at least $88 million in the coming months.
“While this agreement is a step in the right direction, and one that provides enhanced protections to the U.S. taxpayer, it is important to recognize that it only provides funding for the project through November of this year,” he said.
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