The Virginia Coalition is a diverse group of current Southside Virginia job creators who are concerned about the health of our employees and workforce, as well as our future ability to recruit new companies and employees into the region given the health implications of uranium mining. We are CEO's, business owners, entrepreneurs, economic developers and current and former legislators who have a simple request: READ The Reports before voting on a matter with such far reaching ramifications.
Virginia Uranium Inc. doesn’t plan to ask for money from the Tobacco Commission, the Governor’s Opportunity Fund or any other economic development incentive program to start its uranium mine and mill in Pittsylvania County.
That doesn’t mean that uranium mining in Virginia isn’t going to come without any cost to Virginia’s taxpayers — and the meter is now running.
Gov. Bob McDonnell recently announced that he would ask the General Assembly to delay action on lifting the state’s moratorium for another year. That position only makes sense, because most of the studies on uranium mining have only been released in the last few weeks of 2011. There simply hasn’t been time for Virginians — including the 140 members of the General Assembly — to read and fully understand the issues raised by those studies.
But McDonnell, who envisions Virginia becoming the "energy capital of the East Coast" did a lot more than send everyone to study hall with a big stack of homework.
He also gave uranium mining and milling in Pittsylvania County a big push forward.
McDonnell has started the process of developing "a draft regulatory framework" for uranium mining in Virginia in the name of getting "more detailed information."
If that sounds like a careful, gradual approach to a complex problem, that’s not how they see it at Virginia Uranium.
"Virginia Uranium welcomes Gov. McDonnell’s decision to have Virginia’s regulatory agencies begin the process of drafting a regulatory and permitting program for uranium mining in the commonwealth," VUI Project Manager Patrick Wales said in a news release. "The governor’s decision is an important step toward establishing a regulatory framework that will enable our company to build and operate the safest uranium mine in the world right here in Virginia."
That’s fine for VUI, but for the rest of us watching the state government struggle to pay for schools, police and roads, we have to wonder why Virginia will now spend money developing regulations that will be used by a single company at a single site for something that’s currently not allowed in the commonwealth.
Developing uranium mining regulations, by VUI’s own words, advances the cause of uranium mining and milling in Virginia even as most people are still trying to digest the thousands of words contained in the various studies that were released late last year.
Clearly, the governor wants to see Virginia Uranium’s project move forward, but the studies don’t give him or VUI’s friends in the General Assembly what they need to green light the project this year.
So, while most people will be asking more questions about this potentially lucrative — or potentially disastrous — project, the state government will be taking more than a few steps toward making it become a reality.
McDonnell hasn’t selected a middle-of-the-road position, he’s hit the gas pedal on Virginia Uranium’s project. If we find that uranium mining isn’t for us, will anyone in Richmond want to hit the brakes?
More to the point, will they be able to?
Authors: Read the Reports