In a not so unfortunate turn of events, Virginia Uranium Inc. (VUI) announced that it would be “suspending its campaign” to purge Virginia of its uranium ore deposits due to the opposition that Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe has publicly voiced for this risky enterprise.
VUI’s faithful ally in the Virginia General Assembly, Sen. John Watkins, had planned on reintroducing legislation in 2014 that would allow uranium mining in Virginia to occur. During the 2013 session of the General Assembly, Watkins’ legislation never made it out of the Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources committee.
The “low-key” announcement made by VUI marks a significant short-term victory for opponents of uranium mining in Virginia, marking the culmination of years of raising public awareness about the risks of uranium mining and milling, particularly in a wet climate like Virginia’s.
With billions of dollars on the line, however, there won’t be any shortage of attempts by groups to lift the moratorium on uranium mining, a moratorium that has been held in place since 1982. According to the VUI project manager, Patrick Wales, "We are in this for the long haul and are committed to developing the Coles Hill project. We will continue evaluating all options to move the project forward." And by “all options,” Wales must have also meant half-truths and spurious scientific correlations.
So while Virginians concerned about the vitality of their state can breathe a collective sigh of relief for now, my hope is that Virginians do not completely wipe this issue off of their ‘radars’. VUI has made it clear that the towel is not being thrown in indefinitely.
For all of the Virginians who worked tirelessly to achieve this victory for the commonwealth, enough thanks cannot be given! Many of their names will probably never be household names in the state, but they deserve just as much praise and gratitude as some of Virginia’s most memorial historical figures. Only time will tell, but the contribution of these individuals could one day prove to be absolutely priceless.