When Virginia Uranium Inc.’s (VUI) favorite investment in the General Assembly, Virginia Sen. John Watkins, withdrew his own bill that would have lifted Virginia’s 3-decades old moratorium on uranium mining in the state, it was a victory in so many ways for so many Virginians.
On the one hand, it demonstrated what an active group of concerned citizens can achieve when pressed to act; David defeated Goliath in the first round. The victory on Virginia’s uranium mining moratorium was also a win for protecting human and environmental health in Virginia and conceivably in North Carolina as well.
But as recently as Wednesday, a Bob McDonnell spokesman said that the governor is “reviewing” a request made by VA Sen. John Watkins to use his executive authority to instruct Virginia’s agencies to draw up draft mining regulations. Thus, even though Virginians and their elected representatives spoke in favor of retaining the moratorium, Sen. John Watkins believes that “emotion and fear” have “overcome the science and engineering.” Which science and engineering is Sen. Watkins referring to, VUI’s? Otherwise, there are plenty of scientists who have voiced skepticism over mining uranium in Virginia.
Aside from the argument that a legislator from Powhatan shouldn’t have a final or significant say in what processes go on in Southside Virginia that could have a tremendously negative impact, the idea that legislators can simply request action on the part of the chief executive if they don’t get their way in the General Assembly is preposterous and disturbing at the very least.
Try as you might, however, Sen. Watkins, the people of Virginia won’t lay down their opposition to uranium mining in Virginia until it is unequivocally safe to do so. Real people stand to lose their entire ways of life, whether it be through an ‘unforeseen’ accident or the mere stigma of uranium mining in the surrounding area.
The level of opposition to uranium mining in Virginia should have dissuaded any fair-minded politician from supporting this potentially catastrophic process in our state. But Sen. Watkins has drunk the kool-aid and is more akin to a heroin addict looking for his next fix than a rational legislator weighing the costs and benefits of his actions.
If the will of the people still means anything to Gov. McDonnell then his royal excellency will not move to inform Virginia’s relevant agencies to draft up uranium mining regulations.
The majority of Virginians HAVE spoken and it’s time to finally listen.