Uranium Mining… Going, Going, Gone?

Text from our January 31, 2013 email alert:

Piedmont Environmental Council

Uranium Mining… Going, Going, Gone?



Senator Watkins gave up on his uranium legislation today in front of packed crowd who'd traveled to Richmond to oppose lifting the ban.
Photo credit Deborah Lovelace

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.

Of course, Senator Watkins vows that this is not the end of uranium mining in Virginia, but it certainly looks to be the end of it for this General Assembly session. That, in of itself, is a major victory.

There are a lot of reasons why lifting the ban would be dangerous for the Commonwealth. If you were never able to watch it, I would recommend taking a look at the video we produced with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which really lays out what is at stake.

A big thank you to everyone who took time to write their elected officials and to the elected officials who listened.


An Update On Other Important Bills

While Uranium mining has garnered a lot of attention, I also have an update on some other priority bills:

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    Photo by Joyce Harman

    Land Conservation — As the only significant private land conservation incentive in Virginia, the Land Preservation tax credit has been instrumental in protecting this State's historic sites, farmland and public access properties. I am happy to report that the bills which would have repealed the Land Preservation tax credit have all died for the year.

    PEC is still working to pass Delegate R. Lee Ware's HB 1398, which would allocate unused Land Preservation tax credits to the important grant programs that help purchase conservation easements and land when a donation by the landowner isn't possible. The bill recently passed out of committee with a 19-2 vote and will head to the full house within the next week. Please consider contacting your Delegate to let them know that the Land Preservation tax credit is a critical program for their district. We will let you know if and when it's time to write to the State Senate.

  • Local Land Use — In other news, HB 1430 (the "Boneta Bill"), which would have dramatically changed the definition of agricultural operations and made it almost impossible for a county to enforce its own zoning rules, has been substantially amended and a reenactment clause was also added. This means that nothing will happen unless it is approved by the General Assembly and Governor next year. Both the Virginia Farm Bureau and the Virginia Association of Counties had expressed grave concerns about the bill.

Another bill we've been working on is HB 1695, Del. Randy Minchew's agricultural net metering bill, which would allow farms to expand their use of renewable energy and limits that expansion to solar, wind and digester gas. The bill passed out of committee today. Looking toward the second half of the Session, we expect a good deal of attention to be given to transportation, as all eyes turn towards the Governor's transportation legislation.

There are too many bills to mention in one email, but I wanted to get this update out quickly to share the good news. If you have questions about these or any other bills in Richmond, don't hesitate to send me an email.


Dan Holmes
Director of State Policy
The Piedmont Environmental Council

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The Piedmont Environmental Council | P.O. Box 460, Warrenton, VA 20188 | (540) 347-2334