Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bolling announces opposition to uranium mining

Comments:  Lt. Gov. Bolling gave reasons as to his stance which may be viewed here.     It was a powerful presentation. His statements were supported by regional elected officials.
Posted: Friday, December 14, 2012 12:39 pm | Updated: 1:13 pm, Fri Dec 14, 2012. Bolling announces opposition to uranium miningAssociated Press |

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling announced his opposition Friday to uranium mining and milling in Virginia, citing the potential to slow business and job growth in Southside Virginia and concerns about its environmental impact.

 The announcement, delivered in Danville with business leaders, is significant because Bolling is Gov. Bob McDonnell's jobs creation chief and proponents of mining have cited its potential to create hundreds of jobs. He also casts the tie-breaking vote in the Virginia Senate. The General Assembly is expected to take up the state's 30-year ban on uranium mining in the 2013 session.

 Bolling, said he has followed the fierce debate over uranium mining and has "come to the conclusion that the Virginia General Assembly should maintain the ban on uranium mining and milling in Virginia."

"First, I am concerned that removing this ban could have a chilling impact on our efforts to recruit new business, industry and jobs to southern Virginia, and it could also have a harmful impact on numerous existing businesses in the region," Bolling said in prepared remarks provided to The Associated Press.

Mining, he said, could undermine efforts to revitalize a Southside economy that has suffered amid the decline of tobacco, furniture manufacturing and textiles.

The argument counters the job creation and revenues Virginia Uranium Inc. has cited as it has lobbied hard to end the 1982 mining moratorium.

Besides the economic impact, Bolling said he has "too many unanswered questions" about how the mining and processing of the ore would potentially affect the environment.

Finally, Bolling said the Southside Virginia delegation to the General Assembly supports the ban, as does the local Chamber of Commerce.

"If political and business leaders in the region that would benefit the most from uranium mining believe the ban should stay in place, politicians in Richmond should not lift the ban against their wishes," Bolling said.

Virginia Uranium wants to operate what would be the first full-fledged uranium mining operation east of the Mississippi.

Opponents, however, argue that Virginia's wet, storm-prone environment is ill-suited for a mining industry that has been centered primarily in the arid southwest. They fear a release of uranium-laced tailings, or waste, could foul public water supplies for residents as far away as Hampton Roads and farm fields.