Friday, September 6, 2013

Ms. Jones wants permanently Ban on Uranium Mining

Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2013 6:30 am
The Editorial
House candidate Elizabeth Jones wants uranium mining permanently banned in Virginia. Jones first said she would try to accomplish that with a bill in the General Assembly; when she learned that it might require a constitutional amendment, she shifted gears.
But it wasn’t all that much of a shift.

Jones simply wants the state government to end the uranium mining debate, once and for all.

As a candidate for the General Assembly running as a Democrat in the Republican-red 16th District of the House of Delegates, the conventional wisdom is that Jones doesn’t stand a chance on Election Day.

That conventional wisdom is probably right, but it doesn’t change the fact that Jones was the first candidate to support a permanent ban on uranium mining. For a community that has spent the past six years embroiled in this controversy, Jones’ proposal shook up the local political scene.

We’re not sure how Jones’ opponent, Les Adams — or for that matter, Del. Danny Marshall —feels about a constitutional amendment to ban uranium mining in Virginia.

We do know that fellow Democrat and Marshall’s challenger this year, Dr. Gary Miller, has come out in favor of Jones’ proposal. That’s about what we would expect Miller — or any Democrat in the mostly-Republican Dan River Region — to do.

But on this issue, they have outflanked Marshall and Adams.

If they were elected, would they be able to make good on this campaign promise? Since 2008, no uranium mining bills have passed the General Assembly. A growing number of cities, counties and towns — as well as business and environmental groups — have publicly opposed uranium mining.

At the same time, members of the General Assembly from both parties have collected campaign contributions from Virginia Uranium. Politicians don’t accept contributions from people they don’t support or causes they don’t believe in.

 Two things are holding them back — scientific studies that point out the complexities and pitfalls of mining and milling this radioactive rock in Virginia, and the vast and diverse coalition that has formed to fight the project.

That has turned the question of uranium mining and milling in Pittsylvania County into an endless political conflict.

Virginia Uranium isn’t giving up as long as the price of uranium is sufficient to make it worth their while, and the opposition isn’t giving up as long as any company wants to mine uranium in Pittsylvania County.

A permanent ban on uranium mining — and an end to this debate — probably won’t pass the General Assembly, even if that’s what most Virginians want.