Saturday, September 7, 2013

McDonnell uranium adviser moves to William Mullen


BY REX SPRINGSTON Richmond Times-Dispatch
Posted: 08/24/2013 12:13 AM
Cathie J. France, who led the McDonnell administration’s study of proposed uranium mining, is joining the Williams Mullen legal and lobbying firm.

The firm has represented Southside Virginia residents and business people who oppose a proposed uranium mine in Pittsylvania County.

France said she and the firm agreed that she would not be involved in the company’s advocacy on that issue.

“I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to use what I have gleaned (as a state official) for either side,” France said in a phone interview.

France is deputy director for energy policy in the state Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

Her highest-profile task, however, was as leader of a McDonnell study panel called the Uranium Working Group. After holding numerous public meetings, the group described laws and regulations Virginia would need to adopt if mining were to proceed.

The group did not recommend whether mining should be allowed.

Virginia Uranium Inc. wants to mine what it says is a roughly $7 billion deposit in Pittsylvania. But that can’t happen unless the General Assembly lifts a uranium-mining ban created in 1982.

“Cathie earned the respect of a lot of different stakeholders with her leadership of the governor’s Uranium Working Group,” said Cale Jaffe, director of the Virginia office of the Southern Environmental Law Center. The center wants the mining ban to stay in place.

Patrick Wales, project manager for Virginia Uranium, declined to comment on France’s move.