Wyoming considers self-regulating uranium industry

Wyoming considers self-regulating uranium industry

An interim legislative committee is considering a proposal under which Wyoming, the largest uranium producing state in the U.S., would take over regulation of the uranium mining industry in the state.

The news comes as local miners have been pressing Wyoming authorities, arguing that federal directives are redundant and lengthy, which increases costs and prevents new mines from benefiting from periods of high prices.

The proposal floated Thursday is the first in a years-long process to obtain what is known as "agreement state status." The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which currently oversees the state's industry, is open to transfer control to states that seek the responsibility.

Total start-up costs associated with the program are estimated to be about $4 million.

Wyoming's uranium producers are split over the idea of paying for the initial costs, AP reports. Some feel that the measure would result in companies paying twice for their permits. Others see it as a worthwhile cost toward obtaining agreement state status.

The move comes as uranium prices have began to stagger up off the floor in recent months. As oil and coal prices sink, the price of uranium is up almost 20% since August, yet still trading low at $35.50 per pound.