Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, said this week that the government has "a legal responsibility to assist the domestic uranium industry."

Nielson has introduced legislation to help the industry, which has suffered from low-price imports and is likely to suffer more from a pending free-trade agreement with Canada.Nielson said during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing that "the central issue is not just about putting uranium workers back to work. Rather, the real question is whether this country wants to maintain an industry that fuels almost 20 percent of the electricity generation as well as provides for its national defense needs."

His bill would require that the U.S. purchase domestic uranium, finance mill tailings cleanup efforts, and a nuclear fuels enrichment corporation.