Reliable energy is a national security issue


Every American understands that the Department of Defense and the brave men and women of our armed services are the face and backbone of our national defense. What some may not be aware of are the contributions to both our national and energy security that the Department of Energy (DOE) makes, particularly through the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). As chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds these agencies, I worked with my Republican colleagues in the House to pass this year’s funding bill that effectively used precious and limited taxpayer dollars to strengthen U.S. national security and energy security.

America’s strategic defense against all adversaries, including those who have nuclear weapons, including China and Russia, rests on a strong nuclear deterrent. The fiscal year 2024 Energy and Water appropriations bill that I led in the House, and which passed the House in March, provides more than $19 billion to continue modernizing our nuclear weapons stockpile and infrastructure to ensure our nuclear arsenal remains safe, secure, and effective. Specifically, the bill supports the need for evolving capabilities, such as the W93 warhead, the nuclear Sea-Launched Cruise Missile, and a variant of the B61 gravity bomb.

I led efforts to support infrastructure modernization within the nuclear weapons complex, including plutonium pit production, an essential component of nuclear weapons and a capability the U.S. has not had in more than 30 years. Many of the facilities in the nuclear security complex were built during the Manhattan Project era and are more than 70 years old. For example, the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) in my home district in East Tennessee will replace World War II-era buildings some of which have had large chunks of concrete fall from the ceiling due to their age. The UPF will ensure the long-term ability to process the uranium needed for our stockpile while significantly improving the health and safety of workers and the public.

In addition, this bill funds and strengthens the NNSA’s important nuclear nonproliferation programs. Reducing the ability of hostile nations or terrorist groups to acquire nuclear devices, radiological dispersal devices, weapons-usable material, and nuclear expertise is vital to our national security and the safety of the world. Further strengthening America, the Energy and Water Development bill adds to our national defense by supporting the NNSA’s work for the Navy, including support for the operational nuclear naval fleet and research and development for current and future generations of nuclear-powered warships.

Another component of national security is energy security both for us and our allies. Now, more than ever before, our daily lives depend on clean, reliable sources of energy. This year’s Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill lays out the path to reduce our reliance on foreign adversaries for our energy needs in key ways. First, it reduces our dependence on Russia for the enriched uranium needed to fuel existing nuclear power plants and the advanced nuclear technologies currently under development. To do that, I included more than $2.8 billion to establish domestic uranium enrichment capabilities. Second, the bill supports a full suite of production technologies, including separation and extraction, to utilize and secure our domestic critical minerals supply chain. These activities will help reverse our growing reliance on China for the critical minerals used in all modern electronics and batteries. From electric vehicles to smartphones and medical devices, critical minerals are essential to everyday life.

Finally, my House Republican colleagues and I worked to safeguard our nation’s energy and technology assets from being exploited by foreign adversaries. The appropriations bill includes language to prohibit the Biden Administration from 1) selling crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China; 2) awarding U.S. tax dollars to entities of concern; and 3) allowing citizens of Russia and China to access U.S. nuclear weapons production facilities.

The world has changed dramatically over the past few years, and our near-peer adversaries Russia and China have advanced their technical capabilities at an astounding rate. Similarly, malign actors, like Iran and North Korea, continue to seek opportunities to destabilize. While our adversaries modernize their arsenals, our nation has also become dependent on adversarial nations for our energy jeopardizing our long-term economic and energy security.

We must rise to the moment today to meet national security demands and meet our long-term economic and energy needs. The 2024 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill is an effective blueprint to rebuild our nation and create America’s New Nuclear Future that ensures a reliable and effective nuclear stockpile against any adversary and removes the yoke of dependency on foreign sources of key energy resources.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is the chairman of the Energy and Water Subcommittee of Appropriations and also serves on the Energy Subcommittee of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. As chairman of Energy and Water, Fleischmann leads the charge to provide funding for the federal agencies and programs responsible for the United States’ national laboratories, water and energy infrastructure, nuclear security, and energy independence.


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