Just a few short months ago the Virginia General Assembly responded to the will of the people — legislators were forced to withdraw a bill that would have lifted the state-wide ban on Uranium mining. As we said then, this was an important victory, but not the final one. Now as we near the end of Governor McDonnell's term, mining backers are conducting a heavy handed PR campaign. They are hoping to persuade the Governor to act against the will of the General Assembly — pressuring him to draft rules that would lift the decades old ban on uranium mining and milling in Virginia. This text was taken from an email alert sent out on June 4th, 2013.
In 2007, Virginia Uranium, Inc. (VUI) made their intentions clear: they were going to persuade lawmakers to lift the Commonwealth’s standing moratorium on uranium mining and milling. The company had their eyes set on a large deposit of uranium in Southwest Virginia, and they adamantly ignored the numerous warnings and unknowns. Determined to break ground in Pittsylvania County, VUI poured millions into a massive lobbying effort and PR campaign to make it happen. They pulled all of the stops— including flying legislators to France.
After a big push, Uranium mining proponents have realized they simply don't have the votes. Seeing the writing on the wall, Senator John C. Watkins (R – Powhatan) officially withdrew his bill to lift the ban this afternoon.
My co-worker Rob and I were there, and quite frankly it was pretty exciting. We were a part of a packed crowd from around the state who had traveled to Richmond to show support for keeping the ban. It was great to have something go our way. Continue reading this January 31st email alert:
The bills to lift the ban on uranium mining and milling have officially hit Richmond. Despite widespread opposition from local governments and businesses, HB 2330 and SB 1353 were submitted and are now moving through their respective committees — putting the health of Virginia's air, water and ultimately its people at risk. Unfortunately, these bills are as bad as we expected them to be. Proponents claim that mining would be limited to Pittsylvania County, but the bills are drafted in a way that would allow mining throughout the Commonwealth with simple amendments. Continue reading this January 25th email alert:
Is it possible to restore a landscape damaged by uranium? Ask the Navajo in New Mexico.
In 2007, Virginia Uranium, LLC, (VUI) began lobbying hard for the General Assembly’s standing moratorium on uranium mining and milling to be lifted. The corporation has big plans to start a mining and milling operation in Pittsylvania County, and PEC and our allies have fought them every step of the way. There is simply too much at stake. Uranium mining and milling in Virginia would be an extremely dangerous experiment. In the United States, uranium has only been mined in arid regions— where low rainfall makes it more feasible to contain the radioactive and toxic mining waste. Virginia is anything but arid.
In Colorado and Virginia residents debate whether proposed uranium mills will help or hinder their economies.
What can a Superfund site in Colorado tell us about potential uranium mining and milling in Virginia?
The uranium in Virginia will remain safely underground for now, although pressure is still building to overturn Virginia’s ban on mining and milling this radioactive mineral.
Despite a massive lobbying effort by Virginia Uranium, LLC, it appears that efforts to end the ban this year lacked political support, particularly after a National Academy of Sciences study released in December confirmed that uranium mining and milling would expose Virginians to unprecedented risk. On January 20, Gov. Bob McDonnell requested that there be no effort to lift Virginia’s ban on uranium mining this year, but directed state agencies to start drafting regulations for potential uranium mining and milling.
Uranium mining in Virginia poses many risks to the health of residents and the viability of the rural economy. Learn more about the uranium mining moratorium issue and how PEC plans to move forward after the issue failed to come up in this General Assembly session.