In case you hadn’t heard, the dark-side of the force (i.e., proponents of uranium mining) temporarily lost their legislative fight to lift Virginia’s ban on uranium mining and set the regulatory foundations in place for a nightmarish disturbance of Virginia’s earth for uranium ore.
Sen. John Watkins’ (and Virginia Uranium Inc.’s) bill, SB1353, would have started laying the tracks for a regulatory framework to mine uranium in the commonwealth. Much to the pleasure of Virginians concerned more with human and environmental health, Watkins took his own bill off of the committee docket after “it became clear that uranium supporters lacked the votes to get it through committee, much less the full General Assembly.” Woe to you sir!
In a statement made following the defeat of SB1353, Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Carl Jaffe stated, “All these different constituencies have said loudly and clearly: “We do not want to put our drinking water, our environment and our economy at risk.”
If Sen. Watkins and SB1353 were a game of cards, Virginia Uranium Inc. (VUI) went all in and lost. Or did they?
With close to 120 million pounds of uranium ore buried underneath the surface of Pittsylvania County, it isn’t coming as a surprise that VUI and its legislative puppets have taken emergency procedures to evade the legislative process and consequently, the people of Virginia, by asking his highness Governor McDonnell to have state agencies draw up the rules to mine uranium. After all, who cares what the voters and residents of Virginia think?!
For VUI and its puppet politicians like Sen. Watkins, uranium mining in Virginia is without-a-doubt safe. But on what evidence have they based such an immense conclusion? And with so much to gain, shouldn’t VUI’s ‘opinion’ really be excluded from these discussions?
As one of the members of the National Academy of Sciences/National Resource Council (NAS/NRC) report on Uranium Mining in Virginia so poignantly stated, “Some arguments make it appear that all mining considerations are similar, but the NAS/NRC report carefully considered experiences of other countries and other states, finding that each had unique characteristics, and each facility was designed to function best under local conditions. For example, Canadian mines operate in a much colder and drier climate, far from the population centers found in Virginia.”
Wow, this almost sounds like it could be…fact. And indeed, it is. Virginia is not Canada, Utah, Montana, Australia, New Mexico, etc. Virginia’s ecology is uniquely Virginian and uranium mining has not been conducted anywhere in the world quite like Virginia. Thus, conclusions about the safety of mining for uranium in Virginia based off of the supposed safety of other sites in the country and throughout the world are wrong because like individuals, no two uranium mining sites are alike.
For Virginians who fought so hard to achieve this victory, the entire state owes you a great big “Thank you”! This issue is far from settled, but once again this victory demonstrated that with enough people and enough voices, the dark-side can always be stopped, even if it has a huge Death Star (i.e., bank account).