No Uranium Mining Study for Now

A House of Delegates committee has nixed a proposed study of uranium-mining safety. Even though I have supported such a study, I thought the committee offered some pretty good reasons for its decision. As argued in a Virginia League of Conservation Voters newsletter, a study at this point is premature.

Virginia Uranium Inc. has not provided the state with a mining plan illustrating how they hope to proceed nor have they shown any evidence of advances that would make uranium mining any safer now than it was 25 years ago when the ban on uranium mining was first put in place.

Despite clear opposition to moving forward with the bill as drafted, proponents of uranium mining rejected a substitute proposal offered by Del. Clarke Hogan that would have set up a commission to determine whether a study of uranium mining in Virginia is appropriate and, if so, what this study would need to encompass in order to verify the health and safety of mining.

Rather than conduct an open-ended safety study, which may or may not encompass the mining methods that Virginia Uranium would employ, it makes sense for Virginia Uranium to do its own research, prepare a mining plan that it believes can extract uranium safely, and present it for consideration. A General Assembly study then could narrow its focus to the specific set of issues raised by the choice of mining methods.

I suppose Virginia Uranium could argue that it would be expensive and risky to develop a detailed proposal with no guarantee that it would win approval. On the other hand, one could argue, the Commonwealth has no business footing the bill for Virginia Uranium’s due diligence. If Virginia Uranium wants to be taken seriously, it needs to put skin in the game by paying geologists and engineers to figure out which mining method would best suit the conditions of Pittsylvania County.

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  1. Groveton Avatar

    Never time to do it right, always time to do it again.

    That should be the General Assembly’s motto.

    From abuive driving to regional transportation authorities to uranium mining.

    Once the budget shortfalls hit in earnest there will be a rush to figure out how the urnium can be mined (and taxed).

  2. Former editor Avatar
    Former editor

    I honestly have to commend the House Rules Committee for putting the brakes on this one and offering an alternative to Wagner. There’s too much at stake for the entire Commonwealth. VUI should publicly reveal how its experts suggest mining this radioactive ore in a populated area prone to severe weather. What are they waiting for?

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    The study would be privately funded, so it would cost Virginia tax payers nothing.

    Clarke Hogan & Watkins Abbitt’s substitute bill removed all citizens from the comission and reduced the size to six (4 from the House, presumably including Hogan & Abbitt, and only 2 from the Senate) from a commission of 17 citizens and legislators. VUI would have been foolish to support a substitute bill that put the two most vocal opponents on a commission so small they could submarine it later.

    Finally, the substitute madated a 2 year study of whether or not to have a study, which is utterly and completely absurd.

    Shame on the Republican Leadership in the House of Delegates (i.e. Dollar Bill Howell) for allowing Clarke Hogan to kill this important legislation when our country so desperately needs to build domestic sources of energy supply.

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