Former Interior Secretary Client, Canadian-Based Ur-Energy Admits Bailout Wasn’t Needed

HELENA, MT On the heels of the Nuclear Fuels Working Group report submitted to President Trump yesterday that recommends major concessions for uranium mining corporations, Ur-Energy, a Canadian uranium mining corporation previously represented by former mega-lobbyist turned-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, was awarded a nearly one million dollar bailout under the Small Business Administration’s Payroll Protection Program that the corporation admits they didn’t even need.

“The special interest self-dealing within the Trump administration is costing Americans jobs and forcing many small businesses to fold after the first round of funds were siphoned up by large, sometimes even foreign-owned corporations,” said Jayson O’Neill, spokesperson for Accountable.US. “Outside of Congress demanding accountability and including additional transparency measures after leaving a gaping loophole that will continue to benefit large corporations in both relief bills, Americans should expect that big business will keep gobbling up the majority of taxpayer-funded bailouts which they may never have to repay.”

While this corporation’s bailout was just shy of one million dollars, thanks to a special interest loophole in both relief bills passed by Congress, requests for more than one million dollars accounted for four percent of the applications but made up nearly 45 percent of the approved spending in the first tranche of funding. And at least 94 publicly-traded firms, some worth more than $100 million, received $365 million in taxpayer money. 

The Canadian uranium mining corporation admitted in a release that the coronavirus pandemic had caused ‘no interruption’ in their ‘production operations’ and that the ‘funding will provide a longer runway to maintain current operations and avoid unnecessary dilution.’ Previous work by Western Values Project, an Accountable.US project, exposed Ur-Energy’s close working relationship with the Trump administration and other requests by foreign-owned uranium mining corporations linked to the administration. 

Accountable.US President Kyle Herrig sent a memo urging Congress to close the loophole in the second relief bill passed and signed by President Trump yesterday. Unfortunately, like the previous iteration, the new relief bill includes a glaring hole — a failure to bolster transparency and oversight around funding for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Accountable.US Action launched TrumpBailouts.org to keep the public informed of the administration’s efforts to bail out corporations as the needs of newly unemployed American workers and struggling families continue to compound.

The Trump Administration Gave A Pandemic Bailout To A Canadian Uranium Company With Close Ties To The Trump Administration

The Canadian Uranium Mining Company Ur-Energy Was Given A Bailout Of $893,300 Under CARES Act Payroll Protection Program

Ur-Energy Says The Pandemic Has Not Impacted Its Business, But It Will Use The Money To Avoid “Dilution In The Depressed Uranium Market” 

Ur-Energy Was Given $893,300 In CARES Act Pandemic Relief Funding. “Ur-Energy Inc. (NYSE American: URG) (TSX: URE) (‘Ur-Energy’ or the ‘Company’) is pleased to announce that two of its subsidiaries have closed on U.S. Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling $893,300 pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the ‘CARES Act’). The loans have been fully funded.” [Ur-Energy Press Release, 04/20/20]

Ur-Energy’s CEO Said He’ll Use Money To “Avoid Unnecessary Dilution In The Depressed Uranium Market.” “Ur-Energy CEO, Jeff Klenda said: ‘…we cannot overstate the importance of these funds to our ability to retain the highly-trained operational staff we have strived so hard to keep onboard. As intended by the CARES Act, this additional funding will provide longer ‘runway’ to maintain current operations and avoid unnecessary dilution in the depressed uranium market; it also provides continued operational readiness when we are able to ramp-up production.’” [Ur-Energy Press Release, 04/20/20]

UR-Energy Says The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Not Impacted Its Business. “At this time, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused no interruption of our production operations at Lost Creek and did not interfere with our scheduled delivery and sales into term contract commitments in early February and again in early April. In 2020 Q1, we sold 33,000 pounds at an average price per pound of $41.52 for revenues of $1.4 million. The pounds were purchased at an average cost per pound of $24.94 and cost of sales amounted to $0.8 million. In early April, we sold 167,000 pounds at an average price per pound of $41.51 for revenues of $6.9 million. The pounds were purchased at an average cost per pound of $26.01 and cost of sales amounted to $4.3 million.” [Ur-Energy SEC Form 8-K, 04/20/20]

Ur-Energy Is A Canadian Company That Mines For Uranium In The United States

Ur-Energy Is A Canadian Company. “The Company is incorporated under the Canadian Business Corporations Act and is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (“TSX”). A description of the significant ways in which the Company’s governance practices differ from those followed by domestic companies pursuant to NYSE MKT standards.” [Ur-Energy, accessed 04/23/20]

Ur-Energy’s SEC Filings Say Canada Is The “State Or Other Jurisdiction Of Incorporation Or Organization.” [Ur-Energy SEC Form 8-K, 04/20/20]

Ur-Energy Extracts Uranium In Wyoming Through In-Situ Mining. “Ur-Energy is a dynamic junior mining company operating the Lost Creek in-situ recovery (ISR) uranium facility in south-central Wyoming. The Lost Creek processing facility has a two million pounds per year physical design capacity.” [Ur-Energy, accessed 04/23/20]

Ur-Energy Is A Former Legal Client Of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt And Has Gotten Several Policy Wins From Interior During Bernhardt’s Tenure

David Bernhardt Represented Ur-Energy As An Attorney From 2009 to 2012 . [U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Statement by David Bernhardt Pertaining to His 2017 Nomination To Be Deputy Secretary]

In 2018, the Department of Interior Declared Uranium A “Critical Mineral.” In 2018, “the Department of the Interior…published a list of 35 mineral commodities,” including uranium, “considered critical to the economic and national security of the United States,” which makes it “eligible for looser permitting standards, among other benefits.” [Press Release, “Interior Releases 2018’s Final List of 35 Minerals Deemed Critical to U.S. National Security and the Economy,” Department of the Interior, 05/18/18, and Press Release, “Grijalva Presses Zinke to Explain Why DOI Now Considers Uranium a ‘Critical Mineral’ That Demands Loose Permitting Standards,” House Natural Resources Committee, 05/21/18]

If Uranium Imports Are Halted, Domestic Uranium Firms like Ur-Energy Stand to Benefit. “Shortly thereafter…Ur-Energy and Energy Fuels petitioned” the Department of Commerce (DOC) “to open an investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. If DOC finds that uranium imports are a threat to national security, these uranium companies stand to benefit immensely from the likely subsequent halt to uranium imports.” [Hank Stephenson, “Chair Grijalva, Rep. Lowenthal Press Uranium Companies For Information on Lobbying Efforts With Trump Administration,” Yellow Sheet Report, 02/05/19]

Ur-Energy’s Lost Creek Property Lies Within a Sage Grouse Core Area in Wyoming. Wyoming “developed a ‘core-area strategy’ to help protect the greater sage-grouse species within certain core areas of the state. The Lost Creek property is within a designated core area and are thus subject to work activity restrictions from March 1 to July 15 of each year. The timing restriction precludes exploration drilling and other non-operational based activities which may disturb the sage-grouse.” [“2018 Annual Report Form 10-K,” Ur-Energy Inc., For the Fiscal Year Ended 12/31/18]

Revised Sage Grouse Management Plans From Interior Included Opening More Public Lands To Leasing And Allowing Waivers For Drilling To Encroach on Greater Sage Grouse Habitats. “The Trump administration moved forward Thursday with plans to ease restrictions on oil and natural gas drilling, mining and other activities across millions of acres in the American West that were put in place to protect an imperiled bird species. Land management documents released by the U.S. Interior Department show the administration intends to open more public lands to leasing and allow waivers for drilling to encroach into the habitat of greater sage grouse. Critics warned the changes could wipe out grouse colonies as drilling disrupts breeding grounds. Federal officials under President Barack Obama in 2015 had adopted a sweeping set of land use restrictions intended to stop the birds’ decline.” [Associated Press, 12/6/18]